With two blowout losses in their first three games, the Colorado Mammoth have made changes in the crease. ILIndoor has learned that the club released veteran Chris Levis Monday, giving the starter’s job to Matt Roik. They will sign Dan Lewis to be their backup with hopes that their ‘goalie of the future’ Tye Belanger will be returning from an injury soon and ready to fight for a job. Fresh off a 19-12 drubbing to the Roughnecks Friday night at home, head coach Bob Hamley said it was time for the club brass to act. “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out we’re not getting goaltending that’s up to par,” said Hamley. “Unfortunately for Chris, we made that decision. We feel Matt is better at this point.”
Levis was sporting a super-inflated goals-against average of 18.92 and a save percentage of only .591 in just 57:05 of action. Roik, on the other hand, has a GAA of 13.96 and a save percentage of .725 in 128:57 of work.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Hamley. “We felt we had to make a change.”
Coming into this season, goaltending was pointed to as the Mammoth’s biggest weakness on paper. Hamley’s heard that criticism before. So many times, in fact, he has a quick answer when asked that question.
“Everybody has questioned our goaltending,” said Hamley. “I always reply that we came out of the Orlando dispersal with Matt Vinc. He couldn’t play here, didn’t want to play in the West. So, we got Junior out of it. We had the Boston dispersal and we traded the pick before we went. It was Cosmo who was going to be going there but we talked to him and he couldn’t play in the West.
“So we’ve had some upper-echelon goaltenders available to us in our drafts but, at the end of the day, they wouldn’t come here so we’ve just had to try and manage the best we can and for the most part we’ve done that.”
The injury to Belanger — who hurt his arm playing volleyball at school in November — didn’t help things. He originally had an eight-week recovery diagnosis, but has had some setbacks. Hamley said they hope to have him in net this weekend to face some shots and perhaps be ready for some game action in two or three weeks. That said, he’s quick to add they don’t plan on rushing him.
“We think Belanger is the future,” said Hamley. “We’re not sure if the future means next week or 2015. We don’t know. But he’s a good young goaltender we think will be a good young one. That’s how you have to do it now. If guys won’t show up here, you have to do it through the draft. Right now we’ll just ride Matt and Dan Lewis and hopefully this will be a wake-up call for everyone on our roster to smarten up and be better.”
Because, let’s face it, teams aren’t exactly lining up to trade a bona fide No.-1 ’tender to Denver.
“You know how that works,” laughed Hamley. “Every team is looking at us and saying ‘Ya right, like we’re going to help you out.”
Hamley adds the whole team bears some of the blame for its 1-2 start and two big losses (they also allowed 17 goals to the Washington Stealth). The offence has to be more consistent and the defence has struggled, looking disorganized and allowing way too many shooters naked on the crease.
Perhaps this shake-up will be both a shot in the arm for the club, as well as a kick in the butt.
“We certainly hope so,” said Hamley. “You nailed it there. You have to be able to ride the waves, good and bad, and come through. We just have to be better.”
What a difference a week makes for the Roughnecks offence. After going ice cold in the fourth quarter of an OT loss to Colorado two weeks ago, the Riggers scored 35 goals this weekend in wins over Colorado and Philly (16-8) to climb back to .500 at 2-2.
Shawn Evans continued to be the best forward for Calgary, putting up eight goals and 19 points in the pair of wins. The diminutive Peterborough product now leads the league in scoring and is having an MVP-calibre season.
However, the real story was the play of the club’s other big-name forwards, many of whom had struggled over the first two games. Scott Ranger scored three goals and six points against the Mammoth and finished with 10 points on the weekend, while Jeff Shattler had three goals and 11 points.
The two biggest performances outside of Evans were Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie. Dickson had back-to-back hat-tricks while Dobbie — in his second and third games of the season and coming back off an injury — looked like his old self, scoring four goals in each of the wins and adding five helpers.
Not getting as much press or praise was the club’s defence and transition game, which played much better, as well, and looked more cohesive. The group played like — well — a group, avoiding costly breakdowns which plagued them during their 0-2 start.
Remember a couple weeks back when I pointed out what a great outside shooter Josh Sanderson was? See the two beauties he put by Matt Vinc Saturday night for proof … Note to NLL defences: Don’t give Kiel Matisz time and room to shoot from the outside … Nice to see the Calgary/Colorado game not degenerate into a penalty-fest late given the lop-sided score. That despite Rory Smith’s best efforts to find a dance partner … Kudos to the Mammoth fans who cheered their team to the end and to the players who played hard to the final whistle … Minny’s offence looked excellent Friday night till the fourth quarter when everyone started trying to be a one-man show. Move. The. Ball. Made it easy for the Rock defence to ’swarm’ and strip the ball or force bad shots … Defending rookie of the year Adam Jones is off to a slow start with only five goals in three games. He’s one of many Mammoth players who needs to step up his game … Those two roughing minors (called at the same time against Minny in the fourth quarter against Toronto) sure played a big part in the game’s outcome. Hate seeing a team get a 5-on-3 powerplay in a close game … Best part of Nick Rose’s game is his ability to bounce back from adversity. Bad goals are like water off a duck’s back … After his great pre-season, Scott Evans has been pretty quiet for the Toronto … Speaking of the Rock, interesting to note as the changing of the guard continues on that team’s offence, Colin Doyle (4g) and Blaine Manning (1g) have just five goals between them in five games … One bright spot in the Wings loss to Calgary was the play — and production — of Paul Rabil. He finished with a hat-trick and looked much more comfortable in the offensive zone … When Geoff Snider can chip in on the scoresheet for the Riggers like he did this weekend, the team’s usually going to win.
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