The Colorado Mammoth squeaked into the 2013 playoff picture on the last day of the regular season before being dispatched in the first round by the Calgary Roughnecks. Their slow start to last year’s campaign and finish near the bottom of the standings may have some teams going into the 2014 season without worrying about the Mammoth.
But that would be a mistake.
The Mammoth won five of their last seven games last season after making wholesale changes at the goaltending position and bringing in Casey Powell from the Rochester Knighthawks to bolster the offense.
Once Tye Belanger was designated the No. 1 guy between the pipes, replacing the underperforming tandem of Chris Levis and Matt Roik, the goals against being given up by Colorado dropped by almost three per game, putting the team back in a position to win games.
After a slow start to the season with Rochester, Powell began contributing as soon as he arrived in Colorado—he had a six-point night in his first game with the Mammoth and averaged 5.3 points per game in the new digs.
Going into this season, the Mammoth have two former MVPs on the roster—the aforementioned Powell as well as the always-dangerous John Grant Jr.—as well as a former Rookie of the Year in Adam Jones. Those three players, along with team captain Gavin Prout, make for a balanced, talented and experienced offensive unit.
On the other end, Belanger will be pushed hard in the goalie position by the most highly touted goaltending prospect in years as rookie Dillon Ward fights for a roster spot. To make that competition more interesting, Colorado has added Hall of Fame goalie Dallas Eliuk to their coaching staff, which should pay immediate dividends for their netminders.
Add it all up and this could be one of the most competitive teams in the NLL this year. Any teams that take them lightly will be in for a big surprise.