The Colorado Mammoth faced the Vancouver Stealth on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2014 at The Pepsi Center in Denver in front of 15,023 faithful fans. They were excited to see their Mammoth back at home heading into tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak. Last Saturday, February 8, the Mammoth had just beaten the Stealth in Vancouver by the score of 10-9, leading the series 2-1. Colorado had just come off an amazing game versus the Stealth—forward Casey Powell #22, being in the line-up sparked the offense, and he made a huge impact on the team. Vancouver had lost their last five games, were without their Team Captain defensemen Kyle Sorensen #11, and forward Rhys Duch #10 who were both serving one-game suspensions. However, tonight they were back in the line-up, their presence on the field was the boost that the Stealth needed, and they came away with the win 19-9.
The Mammoth were outscored in the first quarter 9-1. Vancouver was on fire. Defensemen Tyler Garrison #91, scored at 2:22 with assists by forwards Brett Bucktooth #26, and Chris Wardle #17. Bucktooth would score for the Stealth at 4:12, with assists by forwards Cliff Smith #5, and Duch. It took only 15 seconds for the Stealth to score again. Transition Nick Weiss #44 had an unassisted goal at 4:27.
However, after only three goals, Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley, pulled goaltender Dillon Ward #45 in favor of the veteran Tye Belanger #31. Belanger had not played the last three games, had zero wins on the season, 135 SOG, 50 GA, a 6.71 GAA with 85 saves, and a save percentage of .630; while Ward had four wins, 357 SOG, 86 GA, a 12.14 GAA with 271 saves, and a save percentage of .759. The fans were shocked to see Hamley make such a drastic move so early in the game. Unfortunately, for the Mammoth, a change in goaltenders didn’t make a difference. Less than one minute later at 5:30, Sorensen scored the fourth goal for the Stealth assisted by defensemen Mike Grimes #5, and goalie Tyler Richards #00. Hamley again made a goalie change, pulling Belanger and re-inserting Ward into the game. The fans were perplexed by the quick switch in netminders, which continued during the game. Belanger played 48:50, and Ward 11:10.
The Mammoth didn’t get their first goal until 6:25 when forward Drew Westervelt #26 scored, assisted by forwards John Grant Jr. #24, and Dean Hill #73. At 8:10 on the clock, Mammoth defensemen Dan Ball #39 would be called for an illegal cross check and a two-minute minor. Vancouver was able to take advantage of the man-down situation and at 9:34, Stealth forward Smith would score a power play goal, with assists given to Bucktooth, and Duch. The Stealth would score three consecutive goals following the PPG. Smith scored again at 11:43, assisted yet again by Bucktooth, and Duch. It only took Vancouver 30 seconds to score their next goal at 12:13. Forward Lewis Ratcliff #42 put the ball in net, with assists by Bucktooth, and Duch. Bucktooth would be the next to score at 12:57, assists going to Duch, and forward Tyler Digby #7. With only 46 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter, Mammoth transition player Mat MacLeod #15 would be called for checking from behind and given a two-minute minor. This set the Stealth up for a PPG by Duch at 14:24, assists by Smith and Bucktooth. The first quarter was dominated by Stealth forwards Bucktooth (2 G, 4 A); Duch (1 G, 5 A); and Smith (2 G, 2 A), with the score 9-1 in favor of the Stealth.
The second quarter didn’t start out much better for the Mammoth. At 1:05, forwards Powell, and Grant Jr. would be called for unsportsmanlike conduct putting them both in the penalty box for two minutes. This allowed Stealth forward Digby to score a PPG at 1:24 with assists by Duch, and Smith. The Mammoth finally scored again when only 16 seconds later at 1:40, Westervelt would get his second goal of the game, the assists going to Grant Jr., and forward Sean Pollock #17. Stealth player Garrison would be called for checking from behind at 3:29, putting him in the box for two minutes allowing Grant Jr. to score a PPG at 4:41, assisted by Powell, and Pollock. But the Stealth would quickly strike back. Bucktooth scored his third goal of the game (hat-trick) at 5:11 assisted by Digby; and at 7:41, Stealth forward Wardle would score, assisted by Bucktooth. Stealth defensemen Matt Beers #2 would be called for checking from behind, receiving a two-minute minor. Unfortunately the Mammoth couldn’t stop the Stealth from scoring on the man-up opportunity, and Stealth forward Duch scored his second goal of the game, a short-handed goal at 11:13, assist to defensemen Craig Hodgson #6. The Mammoth did answer back however, when Beers was still in the box, and at 12:27, Westervelt would score his third goal of the game, a hat-trick PPG, assisted by Grant Jr., and Powell. The score going into the half was 13-4 in favor of the Stealth.
With the start of the second half, Colorado struck quickly with Grant Jr. scoring at :47, assisted by Westervelt, and Pollock. At 4:00, Mammoth defensemen John Gallant #11 was called for intentional contact (two-minute minor), and Stealth forward Duch would receive a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It wouldn’t be until 4:53 in the third quarter that the Stealth would strike again when Bucktooth scored, assist by Digby. Stealth defensemen Beers was called for goal tender interference at 6:19 (two-minute minor), but the Mammoth couldn’t stop Duch from scoring a short-handed goal at 7:07, with assists by Digby, and Smith. Westervelt would put his fourth goal of the night in net at 12:54, assisted by forwards Hill, and Joel Dalgarno #96. It would be the first time in the game when the goals were equaled by each team with two apiece.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the score 15-6 in favor of the Stealth, Smith would score a hat-trick goal at 3:25, assists going to Duch, and Ratcliff. Mammoth defensemen Colton Clark #10 would be called for holding the stick at 3:57 (two-minute minor) allowing Bucktooth to score his fifth goal of the game at 4:41, assists by Digby and Beers. The Mammoth would score three consecutive goals, the first only 17 seconds later when transition player Cameron Holding #19 would score at 4:58, assists to Grant Jr., and Powell; Delgarno at 6:03, assist by Grant Jr.; and Grant Jr. at 6:46 (hat-trick goal), assist by Holding. But the final two goals of the game were scored by the Stealth. Bucktooth would get his sixth goal (sock-trick) at 8:38, assists by Digby and Smith; and at 9:09 by Duch, his fourth of the game, assist to Weiss.
Frustration was evident not only on the Mammoth bench, but on the field as well. The scoring had ceased, but the penalties were stacking up. At 10:21 four penalties were assessed. Mammoth defensemen Dan Ball #39 would be called for a face-mask (two-minute minor), and for fighting (five-minute major); Stealth transition player Ilija Gajic #15 received a 10-minute penalty for misconduct; and Stealth defensemen Justin Pychel #20 would receive a five-minute major for fighting. It was shortly thereafter, that Stealth forward Ratcliff would receive a two-minute minor for holding at 12:23; and the final penalty of the game went to Mammoth forward Hill for goal tender interference (two-minute minor) at 13:58.
The Mammoth were outplayed the entire game, their offense was flat, and the defense could not keep the Stealth out of net. The Stealth on the other hand, came out strong, not wanting to leave Denver on a seven-game losing streak. Having Sorensen and Duch back in the line-up definitely made a difference. Bucktooth was amazing with a career-high 12 points (6 G, 6 A), and scored six goals on eight shots. Duch had 11 points (4 G, 7 A); and Smith had 8 points (3 G, 5 A) It was obvious that the Stealth didn’t want to lose the series against their Western Division rivals.
Players of the game for the Mammoth: Forwards Westervelt (4 G, 1 A), and Grant Jr. (3 G, 5 A).
Players of the game for the Stealth: Forwards Bucktooth (6 G, 6 A), Duch (4 G, 7 A), and Smith (3 G, 5 A)
Mammoth- 16 A, 9 G, 25 points, 2 PPG, 64 total shot attempts, 48 SOG, 16 SOT, .75 SOG%, 58 LB, 21 TO, 10 forced turnovers, 19 FOW, .56 FO%, 4 power play attempts, 6 penalty kills, 26 saves, and a .578 save percentage.
Stealth- 31 A, 19 G, 50 points, 4 PPG, 2 SHG, 62 total shot attempts, 45 SOG, 17 SOT, .73 SOG%, 48 LB, 22 TO, 13 forced turnovers, 15 FOW, 44 FO%, 6 power play attempts, 4 penalty kills, 39 saves, and a .812 save percentage.
The Mammoth have two weeks off to figure out what they need to do to get back on track when they go up against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday March 1 at home.