The Colorado Mammoth (1-4) went into downtown Vancouver Saturday night riding high on their first victory against the Roughnecks in Week 6. However, they couldn’t recreate that success against Logan Schuss and the Vancouver Warriors (2-5), falling 11-10 in OT. Despite the Warriors’ record and the fact that they finally broke a five-game skid on Saturday, the Warriors are a tough squad. It was good to see them win their first game at home in front of their fans, as well as see Chris Gill go up against his old team for the first time as the bench boss in Vancouver. Although this is a step back for Colorado, this was a game that saw the Mammoth maintain control for most of the night, and it’s a sign of good things to come.
The game was back-and-forth from the start, but Colorado dictated the pace, as evidenced by the fact that they held a 7-4 lead at halftime. But, give credit to Vancouver for battling back, scoring the last three goals in crunch time including the OT game winner. It was all about momentum, and things were swinging in Colorado’s favor right up until the end, when a Joey Cupido goal – that would have put them up 11-10 – was called back. A Jacob Ruest shot in the dying seconds was fought off by Vancouver keeper Eric Penney.
In OT, there was no stopping Logan Schuss, as he put the Warriors on his back by scoring the game tying and game-winning goal. He finished the night with four markers – this coming after going scoreless in his past two games. The game-winner itself was a heartbreaker for the Mammoth, as it came off a broken play in front of the Colorado net, and Dillon Ward was just unable to find the ball in time.
The Mammoth might sit in last place in the West and be tied with Rochester with the least amount of goals scored (52), but they’re only two games behind second-place Saskatchewan and have given up the second least amount of goals league-wide (57). There’s no need to panic, and the season is still relatively young. The fact that there are 13 games left on their schedule may play in their favor, and right now they’re just outside of the fourth playoff spot. Also, besides Colorado’s opening night loss to San Diego (big props to them for being first in the West) where they gave up 17 goals against, no other opponent has scored more than 11 goals against them since.
As you might have guessed, I have to give it up for Dillon Ward (50 SOG, 39 SVS, 11 GA) and the defense, as they’ve managed to keep the Mammoth in games night-in-and-night-out this season. Ward isn’t putting up Goaltender of the Year numbers, but he’s been able to right the ship and keep the Mammoth afloat. If the offense continues to improve, they’ll make their goalie a happy man. And the guys in front of the net are busting their butts too, with the likes of Joey Cupido (13 CTO) and the walking vacuum Robert Hope (47 LB) doing everything in their power to bring home the win each night. It’s not always about big hits and goals, it’s about getting into the corners and grinding, and for a team that was lackluster attitude-wise at the start of the campaign, it’s good to see the culture change came sooner than later.
On the offensive side of the ball, things are looking up. Chris Wardle (3 goals) finally seems to be waking up, and Eli McLaughlin (2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, 6 LB) has been continuing to prove himself as the go-to No. 2 leftie behind the always-consistent Ryan Benesch (2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, 4 LB). Part of the reason that the O is starting to mesh is the infusion of young talent, with Kyle Killen (1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 1 LB) and Ryan Lee (1 G, 1 PT, 3 LB) definitely making that RIT connection work in their favor. They’re willing to get creative, and Killen is willing to lay his body on the line (he decked Vancouver captain Matt Beers in the 4th quarter to get the ball back). And if it weren’t for Warriors goaltender Eric Penney (11 saves in both the 3rd and 4th quarters), the Mammoth could have been flying home with the win.
The Mammoth’s next game is this Saturday, February 2n, in Buffalo.