Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome
It was opening night for the home team Colorado Mammoth (0-1) and the visiting San Diego Seals (1-0). The Seals, one of two new teams in the National Lacrosse League would come to Denver in the hopes of opening their inaugural season with a “W”. Hopeful Mammoth fans were anxious to see their team start out the 2018-19 season. But for the 13,407 Colorado fans, last night would not be theirs and the Mammoth would fall to the Seals by the score of 17-12.
The Mammoth have only one newcomer on the floor, John Lintz. The remainder of the team has returned this season with only Brent Adams and Julian Garritano not suiting up for the contest. Scratches for the Seals were Connor Kelly and Johnny Pearson.
Brandon Clelland would take the first ever face-off for San Diego and would end up 15-31 on the night.
In the first, each team would notch two. Ryan Benesch (3G, 2A) would open up the night hitting upper corner glove side at 3:30 on Frankie Scigliano, former Roughnecks net-minder. The angle was crazy and it took skills to hit that corner from the right side. San Diego would see their first goal as a franchise from Garrett McIntosh (1G) off the feed faking left going upper right on Ward at 6:56. But Josh Sullivan (1G) would get the fast break off an errant pass heading down the field and at the doorstep faked Scigliano left then right finding a piece of the net glove side top right at 10:54. But San Diego wasn’t done yet. From behind the net Kyle Buchanan would field the ball to Tyler Evans who send a cross field pass to Austin Staats (5G, 4A) and he’d hit net with a bounce shot between the five-hole on Ward at 11:10. San Diego had good ball control for most of the last seven minutes in the frame. Penalty free in the first; Colorado leading in shots on goal 15-11; and the first fifteen would go into the books with a 2-2 tie.
Jeremy Noble (2G, 3A) would start out the second for Colorado at 3:07 and the Teddy Bears started flying. Noble came across from the right side between Mikie Schlosser in his NLL debut and hit stick side on Scigliano. That’s when the Seals kicked in the burners and would go on a three-goal run. Casey Jackson (2G, 1A) had a beautiful wrap around goal coming around on Ward stick side at 6:10; Turner Evans (2G, 4A) got the cross field pass from Connor Kearnan sending it pass Ward glove side only 15 seconds later; followed by Buchanan with a beauty of a shot as he jumped for the pass and in midair sent it past Ward at 7:54. Benesch would break up the run scoring the second for Colorado with a shovel shot stick side at 8:14. But San Diego would have another three unanswered run, with Kearnan (2G, 2A) getting the feed from a cross crease pass by Dan Dawson faking left then right at 9:01. To add salt to the wound, Robert Hope would get hit with the only penalty in the first half, a holding call sending him to the box for two and again, the Seals would strike. Staats with a pretty behind-the-back pass to Casey Jackson on the power-play would capitalize at 9:43 to put the Seals up 7-4 with 5:27 left in the half. Next up, Brodie Merrill (1G, 2A) wanted in on the fun and burned Ward with another San Diego stick side goal at 11:51. They had doubled their lead in less than six minutes and Colorado fans were silenced. But the Mammoth found a way to put one more on the board with 47.2 seconds on the clock as Ward send a down field pass to a speedy Joey Cupido and with his famous breakaway speed, bounced it in past a stunned Scigliano. Colorado was still ahead with shots on goal 25-23 but San Diego was making their shots count. Fans continued to see the Mammoth with sloppy passing and missed opportunities on loose balls and the Seals took advantage. Score at the end of two: San Diego 8—Colorado 5.
The Seals dominated the second quarter outscoring the Mammoth 6-3 and they would carry that momentum into the second half. After the ensuing face-off San Diego wasted no time answering the Cupido goal only 45 seconds in as Buchanan (2G, 6A) got the rebound and sent a shot over the right shoulder of Benesch who screened Ward from the shot; and Staats in between two defenders got Ward to go low as he shot high at 1:24. The Mammoth, as they always do found a way to go on a run of their own. This time they would be the aggressors notching four. Benesch would get the hat-trick at 2:59; Noble sent the next shot right down the pipeline and past the upright arms of former teammate Cam Holding blowing it past Scigliano on the power-play at 4:19 off an illegal body check by Drew Belgrave; Cupido would get another breakaway feeding it to Taylor Stewart at 5:20; and Jacob Ruest would pass to Eli McLaughlin (3G, 1) and with one of his signature crease dives would hit net stick side on Scigliano at 5:46. The Seals broke the streak and would answer with back with four of their own when Evans stutter stepped around the defender scoring at 6:13. Colorado’s Ryan Lee went to the box on an illegal substitution bench minor penalty giving the Seals their second power-play opportunity on the night and Staats (hat-trick) would take advantage off the feed from Buchanan and through the five-hole on Ward at 9:05; Tor Reinholdt (1G, 1A) would score unassisted beating out two Mammoth defenders hitting Ward glove side and causing a goalie change at 9:08 with backup net-minder Steve Fryer getting the nod. Fryer was successful stopping the Seals for about three and half minutes giving up his first of the season at 12:40 to Staats for the Seals final goal in the frame. Colorado would close out the frame with another crease dive from McLaughlin with 29.5 on the ticker. Shots on goal were almost identical, with Colorado still in the lead 36-35 but again, it was San Diego on top outscoring the Mammoth 6-5 matching their tally from the second. Score at the end of three: Seals 14—Mammoth 10.
Time was running out for Colorado, but as everyone knows a lot can happen in 15 minutes of box lacrosse. The scoring slowed considerably with almost five minutes of scoreless lacrosse and both net-minders holding strong. The Seals would break the silence with another Staats goal at 4:50 fighting his way past two defenders sending it past Fryer putting them up 15-10. Kearnan was next up as he pushed through his defenders and amazingly as he was falling to the turf sent a shot past Fryer only 20 seconds later at 5:10. The Mammoth couldn’t catch a break against the Seals and Scigliano’s quick skills and the wall he put in front of the net was too much for the strong shooters of Colorado. McLaughlin would finally find the net as he faked Scigliano going right then left over the shoulder top corner stick side at 8:18. The Mammoth would pull Fryer at 13:5o in favor of the EA in the hopes that it would pay off and give them some momentum, but instead Holding picked up the rebound headed down the field past Tim Edwards and bounced the shot into the empty net at 14:00 all but putting the nail in the coffin for Colorado. Ryan Lee in a last ditch effort would put one last point on the board for Colorado off a cross crease pass with 13 seconds remaining. Final Score: Seals 17—Mammoth 12.
What went right for the Seals? Scigliano was stellar in net with 44 saves; and 56 SOG. He dominated in between the pipes giving his team the opportunities they needed to come out victorious; they took advantage making quality shots; and they scored on both power-play opportunities.
Star of the game goes to Austin Staats with 5G; 4A; 1PPG; 13SOG; and 5LB.
The Seals would have seven different players with three or more points on the night: Dan Dawson (5A); Turner Evans (2G, 4A); Brodie Merrill (1G, 2A); Connor Kearnan (2G, 2A); Austin Staats (5G, 4A); and Kyle Buchanan (2G; 6A).
San Diego (1-0) heads to Calgary on Friday December 28 to face the Roughnecks (1-1) in the Scotiabank Saddledome, game time 9:00 EST.
Colorado (0-1) has two weeks off and will regroup at home on January 6, 2019 for their rescheduled game against the Roughnecks, a game that was to have been played on Saturday December 1. Game time 3:00 p.m. EST
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome