Tomorrow, the Colorado Mammoth will take the floor at the Loud House in their home opener a full twenty-two days later than originally planned. Finally, it’s time to put the lengthy CBA negotiation process behind us and focus on the action on the floor.
For Colorado, the postponement and subsequent rescheduling of the first two weeks of the season actually may have worked out in their favor. The adjusted NLL schedule has the Mammoth starting off the year with four consecutive home games, beginning with Saturday’s opener against San Diego.
This past Mammoth offseason can best be characterized by a physics principle we all vaguely remember from high school: Inertia. Inertia is the tendency to resist change. While the Mammoth may not have actively resisted change this offseason, change certainly found a way to avoid them. Colorado will return over 80% of last year’s roster.
First, let’s talk about who the Mammoth lost this offseason. In the first NLL Expansion Draft in 10 years, Colorado walked away having lost two key defensemen. The San Diego Seals stole both Cam Holding and Bryce Sweeting away from Colorado (Sweeting was then traded to Buffalo). The only Mammoth player that decided to sign elsewhere this offseason was veteran defender Greg Downing. He’ll play this season in New England. Additionally, Colorado’s Zack Greer (forward) announced his retirement back in June.
Obviously, the Mammoth were happy to lose only four players overall as many recent offseasons have taken bigger tolls on the roster. The losses took the biggest hit on the Mammoth defense that will be without three key players from last season. With the three defensive departures, the Mammoth lose 11 points and 94 loose-ball pickups from 2017-18.
However, Colorado’s front office did a good job of quickly recognizing the hole and working to fix it. John Lintz joined the Mammoth this offseason and brought 9 years of defensive experience with him. Acquired by Calgary in 2007, Lintz spent three seasons with the Roughnecks before heading to Edmonton/Saskatchewan, where he remained through 2016. Last season, he picked up 44 loose-balls and caused 14 turnovers for Vancouver.
Fans will be excited to see tons of familiar faces on the floor this Saturday. Ryan Benesch, Stephen Keogh, and Eli McLaughlin all return to the Mammoth for another season. Last year, these three players accounted for 60% of all points recorded for Colorado. Between the pipes, both Dillon Ward and Steven Fryer are back for another year. Team Captain Dan Coates and Assistant Captains Joey Cupido and Robert Hope will also be back on the floor for Colorado in 2018-19.
The Front Office
While the key personnel on the field remained fairly constant this offseason, the Mammoth experienced a lot of turnover off the field. Andrew McBride was brought in as the new Offensive Coordinator, while Shawn Williams will take over the Defense. Additionally, General Manager Dan Carey announced that he will be leaving the team following Saturday’s home opener. Head Coach Pat Coyle will be the interim GM from this point forward.
Colorado will host their first four games of the 2018-19 season. First up, the Mammoth take on the expansion-based San Diego Seals this Saturday before taking a two week hiatus. They’ll be back in action on Sunday, January 6th when they host Calgary in a game moved due to the CBA negotiations. In Weeks 4 and 5, the Mammoth will host Toronto and Calgary (again) respectively, before heading to Vancouver for their first away game of the season on January 26th. From there, they’ll head to Buffalo and expansion-based Philadelphia before returning to the Pepsi Center to take on Georgia in the only home game in the month of February. The Mammoth won’t get their shot at the defending-champion Saskatchewan Rush until April 6th when the champs come to Denver. The Mammoth will host their final home game the following week against Rochester before ending the year in San Diego and, finally, Saskatchewan.
It seems as though chemistry is a big deal in the NLL. Afterall, it’s not like these guys get the opportunity to practice with each other every day during the season. In this league, you simply don’t have time to get to know each other’s tendencies. The fact that a majority of last year’s roster returns for another season will be huge for the Mammoth. Hopefully, this chemistry will lead to a hot start, especially since Colorado will have four straight games in the Loud House to start things off. If Colorado is able to take advantage of their early potential, expect to see them remain near the top of the West throughout the rest of the year. Last year’s team made it to the semifinals and there’s no doubt that they expect to at least make it back there this season.
We will be teaming up with Lacrosse Talk Radio this season to expand our Mammoth coverage. Our reporters will post live updates throughout the game on our site, as well as various video interviews and other content on our social media platforms. LTR’s site will host all game recaps and analysis throughout the season, and our social media platforms will direct fans to this content.