Vancouver 2019/01/27- The Warriors finally got their first home win, in a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory over the Colorado Mammoth at Rogers Arena in which was the first of their three meetings this season. The two teams taking care of the bottom of the west division are already battling for the fourth and final playoff spot, in a race which looks like it will go down to the wire. Both teams have had problems starting slow, something which has not gone unnoticed by Warriors head coach who touched on that problem post game vs San Diego last weekend. With both teams relying on late surges, Saturday nights battle meant that at least one of the teams was due to break their trend. To combat this issue, the Warriors sent Eric Penney in between the pipes for his first start of the season. Hoping that part of the slow start problem was the early play of new netminder Aaron Bold. Saturday also signified the end of the Warriors first long homestand. Playing the last of three games at home, in their first three home games, Vancouver failed to find a win for their fans; however the lowly Colorado Mammoth gave them every opportunity to do so.
The Mammoth on the other hand had yet to play a game on the road, with all four of their previous games being played on home turf. Unfortunately for them, their homestand was not very successful either, as they came into tonight’s game boasting a single win from those four outings. Both teams have not started the season well, but it was the Warriors who will go into the next week with their moods riding high.
The Warriors haven’t been short of scoring though this season, forward Mitch Jones came into Saturdays game after putting up four goals the game prior vs the Seals, tying himself with teammate Logan Schuss for tenth in the NLL scoring race. Another storyline on the night for the Warriors was the loose ball watch on Vancouver’s Ian Hawksbee. He entered the game two retrievals back of entering the top ten in all time “scoop ups” in NLL history and would be put on that list by the end of the game. The New Westminster native now puts himself in the conversation of greatest all time when it comes to retrieving the ball.
The game began with back and forth action, and some of the most entertaining lacrosse either side has played early in a game this season. However despite getting the unexpected start, considering both teams notorious slow starts, Vancouver goaltender Eric Penney fell unlucky four minutes in as the Warriors surrendered the nights opening goal, from a shot which came off the post; ricocheted off Penneys backside and into the goal. While the first goal was purely unlucky, Colorado’s second was a thing of beauty; coming off of a well-worked powerplay cycle with Warriors Tyler Codron in the penalty box. In response, Logan Schuss got the Warriors on the board mere seconds after going down by two with a diving shot into the crease to bring the home side back within one. The offensive exchange was unlike anything Rogers Arena fans have ever seen, and was refreshing to everyone in attendance. The Warriors would get a powerplay goal with 4:40 remaining in the frame. Both teams would exchange one more goal in the quarter, with Schuss finding his second of the game from a well placed shot with a minute to go. The first half was filled with end to end action, as both teams were able to avoid their notoriously slow starts. It was the exact start both teams wanted, and for Logan Schuss it snapped a two game scoreless streak. Not only was the score tied after one, but the shots as well; with both sides being knotted at 12.
While the first quarter offered entertaining end to end action, the second was much the opposite. Neither team was able to get any opportunities in the first five minutes, that is until the Mammoth scored two goals in fast fashion to regain the two goal lead six minutes into the frame. The pace of the game was noticeably slower in the second, as both teams seemingly moved their slow starts from the first to the second; especially the Warriors, who failed to convene any sort of offense until the final seconds. You would have hoped that the fast paced game would have continued, if only to leave a lasting impression on the local fans before the Warriors hit the road. As they’ve become accustomed to, the Warriors trailed at half time; this time by a three goal margin.
In the third, the Warriors came out looking like a team on a mission. Right off the faceoff they controlled play and found their first goal of the quarter coming from a diving wrapround by James Rahe. The goal was the second diving effort by the Warriors on the night, and brought the home side within two; and reinvigorating the home crowd in the process. Following that goal, tempers began to flair; landing Warriors Colton Porter in the penalty box and giving the Mammoth a powerplay where they would restore their three goal lead. Vancouver’s Eric Penney’s play in net through three quarters was quite good and he didn’t have any lapses of concentration which had become an issue for Aaron Bold. With six minutes remaining in the quarter, the home side stepped up their game and started to score in bunches. Scoring three goals within a stretch of just under three minutes. The scoring outburst brought Vancouver back within one goal, and their first home win remaining in sight. Colorado would add a late goal to close the third leading by two, however with shots tied at 35; the game was still in reach for either team to take the win.
After the game Warriors head Coach Chris Gill told us what he addressed to the team between the third and fourth quarters.
“Are we happy losing?” he said, continuing on to say “Is this that what we’re going to do the rest of the year: be content with losing?’.
It was certainly a challenge for the Vancouver team, one that they would step up to in exhilarating fashion.
Much like the quarter previous, Vancouver started on the front foot. On a power play five minutes in, Vancouver orchestrated a cycle in the offensive zone, leading to a sniped shot from non other than Mitch Jones. The power play goal brought Vancouver within one, presenting the possibility of an exhilarating finish; much like the one seen last week versus San Diego. With 5:29 reaming in the final period, Vancouver was given the golden opportunity to tie the game, as Colorado found themselves shorthanded and leading by a lone goal. The Warriors powerplay, which had already scored two on the night managed to hit the woodwork twice, however were unable to find the elusive tying goal. After witnessing the chaotic finish vs San Diego, few fans were leaving early; a trend which seems to have now been bucked thanks to the entertaining lacrosse the Warriors have been providing. With the netminder pulled and less than a minute to go, the Warriors did indeed tie the game, dragging the night into overtime, where they would collect their first home win and first victory in six games.
When asked about Eric Penney’s play post game, Captain Matt Beers and Coach Gill both mentioned how amazing he was. With Gill saying the team would have had no shot if it weren’t for the play of his backup netminder. However, when asked about the status and decision of Bold, Gill would only reveal that the goalie has been placed on the IR. Gill was very brief in his post game comments, although he most likely was only eager to get back into the locker room to celebrate with his players.
The Warriors celebrated first responders on Saturday night, a profession which has become synonymous as a secondary job for lacrosse players. Gill even is a current member of the Vancouver fire department, while many other players on the roster are a part of the first responders.
After a three week home stand, the Warriors now head out on the road for their second road trip of the season. Next week will see the Vancouver take on the Calgary Roughnecks in what will be the two teams final regular season meeting. While the week after they will challenge the San Diego Seals in California to close out their road swing, before returning to Rogers Arena on February 16th for a battle with the Saskatchewan Rush