On Saturday, Colorado Mammoth returned home, looking to crawl their way back into the win column against the San Diego Seals, but were unable to.
The Mammoth celebrated their home state wearing Colorado-themed jerseys in front of 15,951 fans and in their only prior meeting this season, San Diego spoiled Colorado’s season-opener 17-12. Once again, San Diego spoiled the special jersey night as despite a hard-fought final quarter and a half, Colorado’s comeback fell short and they lost 13-10.
After a slow start, the Mammoth fought their way back into the game coming back to within a goal from a five-goal deficit, twice; coming back from 7-2 to 8-5 and again from 10-5 to 10-8.
Eli McLaughlin led the team with a 6-point night, finishing with three goals and three assists. Jeff Wittig in his first appearance in a Mammoth uniform scored his first ever goal and would add another goal and an assist.
Dillon Ward had 21 saves and allowed 10 goals, eventually getting pulled for backup netminder Steve Fryer. Fryer saved 7-of-9 shots he faced.
The loss moves Colorado to 3-9 on the season with seven games remaining on the schedule.
What did we learn from Saturday night’s game?
1. Colorado’s trade made an immediate impact offensively. Cory Vitarelli scored the opening goal for the Mammoth and got the team back knotted at 1-1. Vitarelli’s size played a large role into his goal, bulldozing over the Seal’s defender to get open for a pass from McLaughlin. Vitarelli added an assist before the final horn for a two-point night.
2. The penalty kill struggled for the Mammoth allowing goals on both of their man down chances in the game. This is not new news for the Mammoth as they are 52 percent on the season, which is below the league average of 54 percent on the kill. Colorado is eighth in the league on the penalty kill, which has been a point of emphasis all season.
3. Eli McLaughlin continued to shine. With the trade of Ryan Benesch, who was the Mammoth’s leading point getter, McLaughlin was now who Colorado looks to on the offensive side of the ball. McLaughlin proved that he can take the reigns, and can lead this team on the attacking side of the field.
4. Dillon Ward struggled and Steve Fryer shined, leading the comeback charge. Ward didn’t play well early, just as he did the first time these two teams met. He struggled saving low or bouncing shots, giving up 10 goals before head coach Pat Coyle made the decision to put Fryer into the game. Fryer made big saves and gave Colorado the momentum on the defensive side needed to crawl their way back into the contest.
The Colorado Mammoth return to action Saturday, March 16 on the road against the Calgary Roughnecks (6-6). Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.