Sorry Mammoth fans, I've now seen your team twice this weekend, while you won't get to see them until the 28th. The Mammoth played their second pre-season game in as many nights at the TRAC, a 13-12 loss to the Toronto Rock. Similar to Friday night's game against the Swarm, the Mammoth dressed a whole bunch of players, some of whom only played one half. The Rock did the same, though despite the Rock tweeting before the game that goalies Nick Rose and Zak Boychuk would play a half each, Boychuk played the whole game. After falling behind 4-1 in the first, the Rock stormed back with a bunch of transition goals to pull ahead, and then it was a tight game after that. In the end, the Rock prevailed 13-12.
If you were looking for hot rookie-on-rookie action, this was the weekend for it as most of the Rock veterans and a couple of Colorado's were on the sidelines (or not in the building at all). For the Mammoth, Gavin Prout and Casey Powell were both MIA, as they were Friday night. John Grant played the first half only. For the Rock, all kinds of regulars were out, including Colin Doyle, Josh Sanderson, Kasey Beirnes, Sandy Chapman, Chris White, Scott Evans, Bill Greer, and Stephen Hoar. The Rock were looking at the kids and borderline players, checking out who might be included on the newly-reduced-in-size roster, who would end up on the practice roster, and who would be looking for a new team. For example, there was this Billings guy, could he finally get over the hump and realize the potential he's shown for the past few years? You heard it here first: I think he'll make it.
Credit where credit is due. I've ripped on Scott Johnston in this blog (and on twitter) a few times over the last couple of years for boneheaded plays he's made. But I thought he played a hell of a game on Saturday. Not only did he score two goals, but he played strong defensively as well. Last year, I thought he looked too much like one of those fighters who happens to own a lacrosse stick, but if he can change his game the way Billy Dee Smith and Rory Smith both have (not that I'd put Johnston in the same category as those guys quite yet), I'd be happy to have him on my team.
Even though I said before that you can't really do much team analysis in these pre-season games, you could certainly say that the Rock played a great transition game. At least 5 of their goals were directly on transition, and three of those occurred within about a minute and a half in the second quarter. As I mentioned, Zak Boychuk played the entire game, and did a great job. He made the majority of the saves he was expected to make, forcing the Mammoth to work hard for their goals, and made a few spectacular saves as well. He even managed to prevent a goal from behind the net, something Nick Rose hasn't quite figured out how to do. That said, Drew Westervelt scored Colorado's first goal of the game on a behind-the-net Air Gait-style shot. But when you have arms that are eight feet long, you can score goals from places most players cannot.
Once again, I have to apologize to the Mammoth fans. I was paying more attention to the Rock in this game and less to the Mammoth, so I can't really tell you how the Mammoth players did. I couldn't even pick who the best Mammoth player was. John Grant is usually a good choice, and he did have a goal and a few assists, but he only played half the game. I don't remember a particular name jumping out at me like "Man, that guy's everywhere tonight!" like Johnston did for the Rock. I'm going to semi-randomly pick someone as my Colorado player of the game: Cameron Mann, only because Mann is the perfect name for a Canadian box lacrosse player.
- As I said in my game report, Friday night's game had no music, no PA, no national anthems, no cheerleaders, and no replay. Saturday night's game had all of these except the replay – the only one of that list that I really wanted (though the PA announcing of goals and penalties was a welcome addition). Maybe when MLSE decides to buy a new Jumbotron for the ACC (to rival the amazing new scoreboard in Denver), Jamie Dawick can grab the old one and put it up in the TRAC.
- In the 4th quarter, Tye Belanger made an outstanding save while falling. The rebound went right to Stephen Leblanc, who deposited it over Belanger into the wide open net. I almost felt bad that Belanger got scored on immediately after (and as a result of) making such a great save. Almost.
- It looked to me like Jesse Gamble might somehow have gotten faster during the off-season. I'm pretty sure that due to relativity, he actually aged less during the game than the other players. That's science. Look it up.
- Not trying to get anyone in trouble here, but Mammoth defender Ben McCullogh was wearing Nike shoes and Reebok pads.
- At one point, someone got a penalty which was announced as "unnecessary roughness". They moved the ball 15 yards, but nobody could figure out what do to about the first down.
- You know what that game needed? Less cowbell. Much, much less.
- First person in the handshake lineup for the Rock? Nick Rose, who didn't play.