Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Colorado Mammoth (0-3) hosted the Toronto Rock (3-1) on 80’s Rock Night in the Mile High City. The 11,678 Mammoth fans were ready to see their team get their first “W” of the season. But as has been in the previous two contests, Colorado couldn’t overcome their woes and would lose their third on the season giving them the worst start in franchise history. The Rock would come into the game having four players with 11 or more points, including Tom Schreiber (10G, 10A); Rob Hellyer (7G, 12A); Adam Jones (7G, 6A) and Kieran McArdle (4G, 7A). The Mammoth points leaders haven’t surpassed 10 and included Ryan Benesch (5G, 3A); and Eli McLaughlin (4G, 1A) Toronto would outshoot the Mammoth 68-42 on SOG and Colorado is fortunate that Dillon Ward only allowed 11 goals. Final Score: Toronto 11-Colorado 10.
The Mammoth would start out the contest scoring first at 2:07 with Jacob Ruest (3G, 2A) hitting left side off the stick of Nick Rose getting them on the board first. In less than a minute and a half Toronto would tie the game off a give and go to Rob Hellyer (3G, 2A) with the feed from Tom Schreiber at 3:31 hitting Ward over the shoulder on the door step. It took only 23 seconds for Toronto to score again as Kieran McArdle (1G, 1A) would get one through the five-hole on Ward at 3:54. Scott Carnegie would head to the box at the 10:05 mark giving Toronto a man-up opportunity. Fortunately for Colorado, they killed the penalty and the fans would witness almost 10 minutes of scoreless lacrosse and fabulous net minding on both ends. The Rock would strike last in the frame with former Mammoth defenseman Creighton Reid (1G) with another shot over the shoulder of Ward and again on the door step at 13:57. Toronto would lead the Mammoth in SOG 20-12 and would end the frame 3-1 over Colorado.
Toronto would take their run into the second when Mammoth defenseman Robert Hope allowed an over and back which gave Brock Sorensen (1G) the opportunity on the break and he headed up the field, faked left-right-left went airborne hitting Ward glove side at 2:17. Colorado would hit back off the give and go with a picture perfect play and nice set up off the feed from Jordan Gilles (1G) to Tim Edwards to Gilles on the door step hitting Rose at 4:08. Colorado would go on their first man-up opportunity off the Brandon Slade slashing call at 4:44 and the Mammoth would notch their first of two power-play goals. Stephen Keogh (1G, 1A) would get his second goal of the season on the door step off the double pump fake at 5:06 bringing them back to within one. The Rock would go on their first power-play opportunity off the Eli McLaughlin “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty at 5:26 and could not capitalize as the Mammoth defense kept them out of net. But just as quickly as the Mammoth would score back-to-back and only 36 seconds after they were full strength, Toronto would score a highlight reel goal as Schreiber would spin and pass to Johnny Powless (1G) and he’d send a behind-the-back shot past Ward at 7:58. Eli McLaughlin (2G, 2A) would answer back for Colorado at 10:06 as Colorado started to pick things up a bit after a sloppy start. With 21 seconds in the frame, Dan Lintner would head to the box for Toronto with his own “unsportsmanlike conduct” and Ryan Benesch (2G, 2A) would tie the game at five apiece on another power-play goal with the assist from Jeremy Noble hitting Rose stick side with three seconds in the quarter. Toronto was still leading in the SOG category and double what Colorado had 38-19. Score at the end of two: Colorado 5—Toronto 5.
The third quarter saw no penalties and only four goals but it took a while to get going as there would be 6:53 of scoreless lacrosse as both Ward and Rose stood tall in cage. Colorado would break the drought as Ryan Lee (1G, 2A) would score off the feed from Ruest on the front door as he dove across the crease with a beautiful toe drag as he tip toed the crease making sure his left foot stayed off the line. Toronto would challenge the goal, but after review, the goal stood putting the Mammoth up 6-5 and the last lead they would have in the game. The Rock would go on a two-goal run as Adam Jones would hit back to back, the first over the right shoulder on Ward at 7:14 tying the game at six apiece; and the second from outside the right wing as he stepped and blew a laser past Ward at 9:48. With 14.2 seconds in the third, Toronto would pull Rose in favor of the extra-attacker and it wouldn’t pay off as Ruest got the turnover and on the break headed down the field and as Rose was heading back to the net, he tried to block Ruest who bolted past him for the empty netter to tie the game again. Toronto would still lead in SOG 51-31 over Colorado. Score at the end of three: Toronto 7—Colorado 7.
Heading into the fourth, and tied at the start for the second time in the contest, the Mammoth would take their final lead in the game as Benesch would score the go ahead goal in the same fashion as Jones had in the third, catching Rose off guard and like a deer in the headlights didn’t move as Benesch found the back of the net at 2:30. Toronto would go on a three goal run a little over a minute later with Hellyer going airborne, faked left to right blowing it past Ward stick side at 3:43; then Schreiber used to the screen again hitting Ward stick side at 4:03; and on their third man-up opportunity would finally capitalize as Dan Craig, after three behind-the-back passes would fake the pass to Jones and sent it past Ward glove side at 5:33 putting them up 10-8. At this point, the game was still within reach for Colorado, but it would also mean they would have to get back the momentum they had in the second when the outscored Toronto 4-2. The Mammoth would see McLaughlin get his second of the night as he sent one through the five-hole on Rose giving him his 100th career goal at the 8:53 mark. But just as quickly as the celebration started, it was over when Hellyer would increase the lead again as he pump faked left-right-left at the front door, jumped and scored on Ward at 9:21. Colorado would score one final time off the cross field pass from Benesch to Ruest as he lept over the crease to score on Rose at 12:53 and that would be it for Colorado as they would drop another one at home. Final Score: Toronto 11—Colorado 10.
This was another poor performance by the Mammoth and if Dillon Ward had not had the wherewithal and the talent to somehow keep Toronto out of the net, the goals against could have been catastrophic for Colorado. With only one addition to the 2018-2019 roster there is absolutely no reason there should be such a sloppy level of play on the Mammoth bench. Colorado did however control some of the top scorers in the league holding Tom Schreiber to only one goal and five assists;
Rob Hellyer to three goals and two assists; and Kieran McArdle to one goal and one assist.
Toronto: 68 SOG; 17 SOFF; 67 LB; 15-25 FO; 1-3 PPG
Colorado: 42 SOG; 30 SOFF; 71 LB; 10-25 FO; 2-2 PPG
Stars of the Game:
- Rob Hellyer—3G, 2A
- Jacob Ruest—3G, 2A
- Dillon Ward—57 Saves; 68 SOG; .838 SV%
Colorado (0-3) will host the Calgary Roughnecks (3-2) on Sunday January 20, game time 3:00 p.m. EST. Toronto (3-1) heads home to host the red hot Georgia Swarm (4-0) on Friday January 18, game time 7:30 p.m. EST.
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©