Di Miller, Correspondent Colorado Mammoth
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Colorado Mammoth
On Saturday February 1, 2020 the NLL made history by hosting the first ever game in Las Vegas, NV at Orleans Arena. Two teams from the West Division, the Colorado Mammoth (4-5) and the San Diego Seals (3-5) would go head to head on this historic night in front of 4,821 fans with no home team advantage but fans from all around. The Seals have the Mammoth’s number having defeated their rivals 3-0 heading into last night’s contest and they would continue with this momentum giving the Mammoth their worst defeat of the season so far. Austin Staats would be back in the line-up for the Seals as was just announce earlier yesterday afternoon after having missed almost an entire year. Staats the 2019 Rookie of the Year has made a huge difference for the team as San Diego who were 3-13 without him, are now 10-4 with him on the floor. The Mammoth offense showed up strong in the first frame and were virtually non-existent in the final three with their offensive powerhouses being kept at bay by the Seals defensive unit and Nick Damude in net. Final Score: Seals 17—Mammoth 10.
The Mammoth would win the opening draw and take possession, but would turn the ball over and Zack Greer (3g, 2a) would send the outside bounce shot in and bang it past Dillon Ward at the 2:21 mark to get the Seals on the board. Colorado would have their best offensive run in the contest scoring three consecutive goals. Dylan Kinnear (2g) would hit top side corner when he snuck underneath Brandon Clelland and tucked it in past Damude only 25 seconds later tying it at ones. Eli McLaughlin (3g, 2a) would stick fake Damude getting him to leave the post just enough to open it up and he was able to hit far side short side for the go ahead goal at 4:54. There was an early track meet between the two teams and it would take almost six minutes before either team would score. Ward who was stellar in his outlet passes, would time one perfectly to Joey Cupido (1g, 2a) on the fast break, he blew past Austin Staats pump faked high and shot low five-hole on Damude for the short-handed goal at 10:46 and the last goal of the quarter. The first quarter Ward was absolutely mindboggling in between the pipes, standing on his head, and spot on at this point in the game. He was seeing the ball extremely well and stopping some hard close in shots having already stopped eight shots on goal. At the end of the first, the Mammoth held a slight lead in shots on goal 11-10; but the Seals held a commanding lead in loose balls 19-11; face-offs were 3-5 in favor of San Diego. Score at the end of one: Mammoth 3—Seals 1.
It was in the second when the Seals began to gain momentum and kept it going for the remainder of the contest. The teams would combine for a total of 10 goals with San Diego outscoring Colorado 7-3. The Seals started it off with a three goal run which surpassed the Mammoth lead that they would not surrender. Connor Kearnan (1g, 2a) got it going with an outside shot off the pick short side at 1:44; next up Casey Jackson (5g, 3a) would get the juicy rebound on the door step tip-toeing the crease off the Fields shot dunking glove side Ward for the equalizer at the 3:08 mark. Greer would notch the go-ahead goal only 13 seconds later coming around beating his defender from the middle of the floor he’d fake high and shoot low five hole 4-3 Seals. McLaughlin would halt the run with an off speed shot with some nice side-to-side movement from Colorado and the one time finish four minutes later at 7:58 for the equalizer. But the excitement was short lived as it took the Seals less than a minute to go on yet another three goal run. Jackson would notch back-to-back tallies within 30 seconds of one another. The first off the two bouncer diagonal feed from Kyle Buchanan which drew Ward to the other side of the cage allowing Jackson to put it top corner behind Ward at 8:29; and the second off the set play with Jeremy Noble faking the shot in front of the cage to Jackson at the back of the cage and he’d jump from behind the cage and bury the naked dunk at 8:59. Greer would get his hat-trick for San Diego from the inside feed from Staats. He’d make the touch pass dropping it into Greer on the door step and he’d put it in under the glove on Ward at 9:57 giving the Seals a 7-4 lead. Once again, Colorado would halt the run with one from Chris Wardle (1g, 2a). He’d roll off the pick and score low to high getting Damude to drop just enough to find a piece of the twine at 11:18. A minute and a half later the Mammoth would score back-to-back the first time since the first. McLaughlin would notch his hat-trick at the 12:36 mark with the back door cut and some nice ball movement and a shot over the top hitting far pipe getting them to within one and the last time Colorado would be this close on the score card for the remainder of the contest. As what happened in the previous weekend, the Mammoth would use good clock management right before the end of the frame calling a time out with 27.4 seconds left in the hopes for the equalizer going into the half. Jacob Ruest would take the ball on the restart but the Seals defensive unit would not allow them a shot. Brodie Merrill (1g) was able to disrupt the Mammoth offense enough to cause the turnover and with a few seconds on the clock, took a shot from the far boards 200 feet away and scored a coast-to-coast two bounce shot with .02 seconds on the ticker. Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle called a time-out for the challenge. The challenge was denied causing Colorado to go into the third a man-down. In the second, San Diego had taken over in shots on goal 17-9; loose balls 22-13; but face-offs were tied 5-10. Score at the end of two: Seals 8—Colorado 6.
The Seals barrage would continue into the third frame with a four goal run. But first, Seals Captain Brodie Merrill would grab his 2,500th career loose ball in the first minute. In what was a very sportsmanlike gesture, teammate Staats allowed Merrill the chance for the scoop giving him the career milestone. Then the four goal run started quickly with Wes Berg scoring a power-play marker on Ward five-hole at 1:30. But then Ward found some new life not allowing San Diego to score until Jeremy Noble (1g, 6a) found a way to break through the armor. Berg would set the pick and Noble would fake and then fire a burner past Ward far side seven minutes later at the 8:30 mark putting them up 10-6. Another five minutes came off the ticker before Berg notched his second power-play tally skipping it far side off the back side flip toss from Noble he caught Ward napping at 13:01. With 44 seconds on the clock, the Seals pulled Damude in favor of the extra-attacker. They’d set up with Noble making the pass to Kyle Buchanan behind the net and he’d sneak around for the finish and they’d double up the Mammoth 12-6. Colorado would win the ensuing draw and Brett Craig (1g) would snatch the loosie and head down the floor tip-toe the crease and flip the shot five-hole on Damude at 14:27 for his second NLL goal and his first this season. The Seals still held the lead in shots on goal 9-7; they were still holding a commanding lead in loose balls 21-11; but the Mammoth had taken the lead in face-offs 4-6. Score at the end of three: Seals 12—Mammoth 7.
Once again, as in the previous two frames the Seals would outscore the Mammoth this time 5-3. The Mammoth offense would start off the fourth scoring at the 4:02 mark. Cupido in transition would feed to Kinnear who would notch his second coming across the crease with a backhander short side. The Seals would answer back with a three-goal tally. Austin Staats (1g, 3a) would get his first goal since coming back 36 seconds later cutting through the crease jumping up and dunking it glove side on Ward at 4:38; and Fields would feed to Jackson on the give and go on the door step and he’d bury it over the right shoulder at 6:31. At that point, the Mammoth bench made the change in net and Tyler Carlson got the nod. It took less than a minute before he faced his first shot and Fields made him pay with a nice move he used the screen and fired it short side giving them a seven goal lead 15-8. The Mammoth would stop another run on a shorthanded marker off the feed from McLaughlin to Jacob Ruest (1g) cutting to the net taking the low shot scoring short side at 9:44. Shortly thereafter, tempers flared and at the 10:19 mark, Kinnear (Colorado) and Merrill (Seals) dropped gloves and wanted to go but the men in the stripes halted the fight sending both to the sin bin. At the 10:28 mark things went crazy. In what looked to be stick save by Mammoth net-minder Carlson on a Casey Jackson quick stick inside the post goal, the ref threw up their hands as a “good goal”. Pat Coyle immediately threw the challenge flag, however due to inconclusive video evidence the refs could not overturn the call. Right then, in an unknown series of events, Kyle Killen (Colorado) had squirted some water onto some fans behind the glass and was tossed from the game; the fans were ejected as well. The Mammoth had imploded and with a 15-9 deficit to overcome it wasn’t looking good. With 11:38 on the clock, Colorado would get into double digits with an outside shot from the right wing hitting far side 10-16 Mammoth. With 2:20 left on the clock, Colorado would pull Carlson in favor of the extra-attacker and it turned out fatal for the Mammoth as Drew Belgrave would grab the ball and before Carlson could get back to the net he’d score his first goal of the season on the empty net at 12:56 for the final point of the game. Final Score: Seals 17—Mammoth 10.
The Mammoth certainly have some issues on the offensive side of the floor and need to figure out a way to get the ball to their leading scorers. Right now they don’t have that one veteran who can lead the squad with many young guns; some of which have stalled out not finding the net. The defensive end is doing what they can and the goalies are standing on their heads but if the offense can’t find the net, all the stellar goal keeping isn’t going to pay off. They need to get out of the gate quick and stay focused. They lost sight of the end game last night and need to figure it out before heading to Saskatchewan next weekend. They have the Seals in two weeks at home and must find a way to defeat their nemesis.
Stars of the Game:
- Casey Jackson—5g, 3a
- Wes Berg—2g, 4a
- Jeremy Noble—1g, 6a
Colorado: 42 SOG; 22 SOF; 53 LB; 15-31 FO
San Diego: 53 SOG; 22 SOFF; 76 LB; 16-31 FO
Colorado Dillon Ward: 44 SOG; 31 Saves; 13 GA; .705 Sv%
Colorado Tyler Carlson: 7 SOG; 5 Saves; 2 GA; .714 Sv%
San Diego Nick Damude: 42 SOG; 32 Saves; 10 GA; .762 Sv%
The Colorado Mammoth (4-5) will head back to Sasckatchewan to face their West Division rivals the Rush (3-2) on Saturday February 8, game time 8:30 p.m. EST. The teams have split the series so far this season. The victor will win the series so this battle is key given the records of the teams in the West Division so far.
The San Diego Seals (3-5) have two weeks off and will head to Colorado to face the Mammoth (4-5) on Saturday February 15, game time 9:30 p.m. EST. Look to see Colorado seeking revenge for the embarassing loss they suffered in Vegas.
Di Miller, Correspondent Colorado Mammoth
Lacrosse is Awesome©