The Washington Stealth can make a huge statement in the early stages of the 2013 season with a road win over John Grant Jr. and the Colorado Mammoth tonight.
The Stealth are off to a 1-0 start after being the defending NLL Champions Rochester Knighthawks to a score of 13-12.
The Stealth trio of Rhys Duch, Lewis Ratcliff and Athan Iannucci may have some big help this season as Surrey,BC native Cliff Smith had an impressive opening night posting 8 points in the Washington win. The product of the University of Denver found the back of the cage three times while adding five assists. Mammoth draft pick Smith will be looking to prove Colorado wrong for trading him at the 2011 deadline.
Also looking to chip in up front this year is rookie Kyle Buchanan. The Robert Morris University grad posted four helpers in his NLL debut and the Stealth will hope his play making ability continues this year and many seasons to come. With great athletic ability and great lacrosse IQ, at a sixth round pick in the 2012 draft could become a huge steal for the Stealth.
Unlike the Stealth, the Colorado Mammoth will open their 2013 campaign and look to bounce back from a very disappointing finish to a very promising season. The Mammoth departed the 2012 playoffs much earlier than expected as the Minnesota Swarm knocked off Colorado 14-10 in the first round. The Mammoth finished second in the Western Conference with a solid 11-5 record but were unable to translate their regular season success to the playoffs.
Leading the way for the Mammoth once again will be the 2012 MVP John Grant Jr. who set the record for most points in a single season with 116. Grant also lead the NLL in goals with an impressive 50.
The 2012 season was no one man show for the Mammoth as JGJ had three players with over 50 points to help him out.
Gavin Prout returned for his first full season with the Mammoth since 2009 and came back with a bang. In 14 games, the product of Whitby, ON posted 22 goals, 61 assists for 83 points.
The Mammoth hope the sophomore does not come to Denver,CO as Rookie of the Year Adam Jones will look to finish where he left off in 2012. The former Canisius Golden Griffin finished 10th in scoring with 76 points in his impressive rookie campaign. If the Owen Sound,ON native can continue the success he started from last season, Jones could become a force in the league for many years to come.
Alongside Jones, is fellow sophomore Jordan McBride. McBride returns for his second NLL season after a 20 point rookie campaign. The Stony Brook University grad had an impressive pre-season, finding twine 7 times in two games. McBride will look to play a much bigger role with the Mammoth this season.
With the amount of offensive talent upfront, this game could become a nightmare quickly for the goaltenders.
In between the pipes for the Stealth is Vancouver,BC native Tyler Richards who had a solid start to the 2013 season. Richards turned away 35 of 46 shots he faced opening night against Rochester en route to his teams first win in the 2013 season.
On the other end of the floor, Chris Levis will tend the twine once again with the Mammoth after an outstanding 2012 year. Levis led all NLL net minders in wins(10 and saves (603, which was good enough for an All-Star team bid.
There will be plenty of action tonight in Denver,CO as NLL action returns to the floor of the Pepsi Center. Look for plenty of scoring as these two Western Conference offensive powers go head to head early in the 2013 season.