It may sound hyperbolic, but last night’s 11-10 overtime Warriors win against the Colorado Mammoth could be the driving force that invigorates the team to turn their season around after a dismal 1-5 record to begin the year.
“Absolutely,” Warriors forward Logan Schuss said of this win potentially being a turning point for the team’s season. “We’re a third of the way through the season and we needed a win against Colorado because we were tied with them for the last playoff spot. It was huge for us to get that win and we need to keep moving forward.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with a 3-3 tie, followed by a lacklustre second quarter, it felt as though the Warriors were having another “here we go again” moment en route to one more loss.
Down 7-4 with 30 minutes left in their final game of their three-game home stand, the Warriors looked as though they wouldn’t be giving their fans a taste of a first home win.
The Warriors were in desperate need of a pep talk at the half, and, in what could be a season-defining moment, head coach Chris Gill came into the locker room and didn’t mince his words.
“In the second half we came out with some fire,” said Gill. “[The coaching staff] challenged the boys. We said, ‘Are you happy losing? Is this that what we’re going to do the rest of the year: be content with losing?’. We challenged them and they stepped up.”
The ball seemed to literally be bouncing in the wrong direction for the Warriors since last week’s game and most of last night’s contest. But, all that changed in the beautifully chaotic final moments in overtime.
In the span of 40 seconds, the Warriors hit the post twice, scooped up a loose ball amid a mad scramble in front of the Mammoth’s crease and finished the game via a Schuss shot that just squeaked by Dillon Ward.
In a relief appearance covering for Warriors goaltender Aaron Bold who was put on the IR late this week, Eric Penney stepped up and came through with a one of his most clutch performances of his NLL career. Penney made many crucial stops to keep the Warriors in the contest including one in the waning moments of 4th quarter to send the game to an extra frame.
It was an effort worthy of the victory it earned and the praise the he would receive from his coach who said that the team would not have won this game had it not been for Penney’s heroics.
“We couldn’t have [won] without Eric Penney,” said Gill. “He was unbelievable. He made so many point-blank saves in the corners. It’s nice to see when he steps up.”
The Warriors now head on their second road trip of the season for games against the Calgary Roughnecks and San Diego Seals. It will be the third and final time that the Warriors will be facing the Roughneck in the regular season this year.
The season-series between the Roughnecks and Warriors is currently deadlocked, so much is on that line in that fixture. And, as was seen last weekend, the Warriors and Seals appear to have a budding rivalry brewing. Expect tensions and physicality to be in the forefront of that West Division match.
You can catch the Warriors next road game against the Roughnecks on February 2nd at 9:00 PM EST on B/R Live.