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Mammoth Face First Road Test as NLL’s Game of the Week

The Colorado Mammoth return to action in Week 4 after rare back-to-back bye weeks after dropping its first game of the season in Week 1 to the Saskatchewan Rush. Colorado’s first road test will take place against the defending NLL Champions, the Calgary Roughnecks, at 7:30 p.m. MT on Saturday, Dec. 21. The matchup will be featured as the NLL Game of the Week, free for fans to watch on B/R Live and on the NLL’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Colorado is hungry to get their first win of the season after having to wait two weeks to get back on the turf for game action. Calgary also had back-to-back bye weeks after their Week 1 win versus the Vancouver Warriors in Vancouver. This will be Calgary’s home opener and banner-raising night in celebration of the team’s 2018-19 NLL Cup victory, much to the chagrin of Mammoth players and fans after the team dropped an 8-4 decision to Calgary during the NLL West Division Finals last season. Expect both teams to come out quick with a physical presence and potential scrums between the divisional foes.

2018-19 Season Recap

Colorado was able to capture the regular season series versus the Roughnecks, taking two out of three matchups. The biggest of the wins for Colorado came on March 16, 2019 in Calgary, when the team posted an 11-9 win. This win started the team’s season-long three-game win streak to essentially secure themselves a bid for the 2018-19 playoffs. Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward had an above average start, saving 35 of 44 shots. The offense was led by Eli McLaughlin (2g, 3a), Kyle Killen (3g, 2a) and Ryan Lee (3g, 1a). Jacob Ruest had a sneaky good night, producing four assists and scooping up four loose balls. Dane Dobbie (2g, 4a) and Riley Loewen (1g, 4a) were the thorns in Colorado’s side from the Roughneck’s offense in that matchup.

Last Time They Met

In the West Division Final, it was a defensive showdown headlined by the star goalies Dillon Ward and Christian Del Bianco. Following a 2-0 game at halftime in favor of Calgary, the scoring broke out in the third quarter before the Mammoth eventually dropped the contest, 8-4. A key to the game was that Colorado was only 1-5 on the power play, whereas Calgary was perfect, taking advantage of all 5 man-up opportunities. Colorado, usually a sound defensive team which totes an above average penalty kill presence, was unable to stop the efficient Calgary power play.

Keys to the Game

The right side of the offense – Everyone knows that the goalies will be on their game, the righty forwards could be a key to decide a victor. Based off last season’s regular season matchups versus the Roughnecks, the three key Mammoth righties (Killen, Lee, and Ruest) combined for 12 goals and 14 assists, including a game when Killen wasn’t playing. Killen did play his first ever game in the NLL in a win versus Calgary last season on January 20, tallying two goals and an assist in his debut with the Mammoth.

For the Roughnecks, Curtis Dickson is the driver of the Calgary offense. In his career, he has tallied 397 career goals and 330 assists. Sharing the right side are forwards Marshal King, a second-round draft pick for the Roughnecks in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, who made his debut three weeks ago, as well as he Tyler Pace, a University of Denver athlete who posted career highs in almost every category last season.

Transition

Mammoth fans are well acquainted with Joey Cupido receiving deep passes from Dillon Ward for quick transition opportunities. Unfortunately for the Mammoth, Christian Del Bianco and Zach Currier share a similar connection and can convert just as smoothly. Cupido is a two-time NLL Transition Player of the Year award-winner (2015 and 2018), while many thought Currier was snubbed from the award last season. Both players are sneaky quick, can bury the ball in the back of the net and are dominant in scooping up loose balls. Expect to see several opportunities for both players to bury a goal in transition during this matchup.

This, and all games throughout the Mammoth season can be seen via Bleacher Report Live. This game is the NLL Game of the Week, which will be broadcasted live for free across Bleacher Report Live as well as the NLL’s Facebook and Twitter platforms.

The Mammoth’s next home will take place Saturday, Jan. 4 during the “Rumble at the Loud House” as Colorado takes on another divisional foe in the Vancouver Warriors. Tickets can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com, ColoradoMammoth.com or by calling 303.405.1101