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March 7, 2013

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NLL Week 10: Now or Never for Mammoth

The Colorado Mammoth, who have the NLL's worst record halfway through their schedule, play two of the four games on tap in Week 10 and if they want to avoid being the only team among the nine to miss the playoffs they have to prove they are worthy this weekend.

Friday

COLORADO (2-6) AT TORONTO (6-3), 7:30 p.m. ET (TSN2 in Canada, ESPN3 in United States, YouTube.com/TLN outside North America)

This is the only 2013 meeting. These teams last met on April 14, 2012, when Colorado won 19-12 at home.

''They're good from top to bottom,'' Colorado coach Bob Hamley said of the Rock. ''Their offense has a lot of weapons . . . and Nick Rose is having a great year. We know we'll have to be at our best. It'll be a challenge but that's what we signed up for.''

''I know everybody is hungry to get a win,'' said Mammoth transition runner Cam Holding, who is eager to get to play in his home city.

Colorado has lost four in a row including a 12-11 heartbreaker at home against Rochester last Saturday.

''We were disappointed and frustrated at the loss but at the same time there were a lot of positives,'' said Hamley. ''Everybody left it on the floor and that's the most you can ask.''

Toronto is coming off a 15-13 home loss to Buffalo that GM Terry Sanderson called one of the team's poorest performances in two years.

''We weren't very good,'' said Sanderson. ''Too many guys had an off night.''

A more spirited effort is a must.

''We're going to have to bring a whole new compete level and that's what we plan on doing Friday,'' said the GM.

''Some of our shots were way off and we've just got to be more focused,'' said Rock forward Josh Sanderson.

MINNESOTA (3-6) at CALGARY (5-5), 9 p.m. ET (YouTube.com/TLN)

Calgary won 17-16 in St. Paul on Feb. 16. This is the last of two scheduled meetings.

Minnesota's fast-break threat is the chief concern, assistant Calgary coach Bob McMahon said during the league's weekly conference call Wednesday.

Minnesota is coming off an 11-8 loss at Washington.

''We had pretty good game plan in place but we didn't follow it from the get-go,'' said Sullivan, pinpointing poor shot selection by his forwards as a significant problem. As a result, lineup changes are likely.

Calgary is coming off an 18-13 home loss to Edmonton. The 'Necks have lost three of their last four, allowing 16 or more goals in all four.

''It's not one thing, it's just a bunch of little things we've got to get back to,'' said 'Necks defenseman Greg Harnett.

Saturday

COLORADO AT BUFFALO (5-4), 7:30 p.m. ET (YouTube.com/TLN)

This is the first of two meetings this season. They'll clash again March 16 in Denver. In the lone 2012 confrontation, Colorado won 16-13 in Buffalo.

''We did a good job last year and I think our team is going to go in there focused for this one,'' said Holding.

Buffalo is coming off an 11-10 OT loss at home to Philadelphia.

''We're leaving no tears in the beer,'' said assistant coach Rich Kilgour. ''We're moving on.''

Veteran forward Tracey Kelusky sat out last weekend after suffering a rib injury and aggravating it during a practice.

''We're giving him a week or two off to get that healed up and hopefully he'll be able to play again soon,'' said Kilgour.

The availability of captain John Tavares will be a game-time decision because he strained during the loss to Philadelphia the calf muscle that has been an ongoing problem.

It's the first and only two-game weekend for the Mammoth this year.

''You always preach to focus on the first game,'' said Hamley. ''We'll turn our attention after the Toronto game to the Buffalo game.''

WASHINGTON (6-4) AT PHILADELPHIA (5-3)

This is the first of two meetings. They'll square off again April 20 in Everett. Philadelphia won the only meeting last year 10-9 on a Kevin Crowley overtime goal.

''Philly might be the hottest team in the league right now,'' said assistant Stealth coach Dan Perrault. ''They're a big, strong, athletic team so we'll have to be prepared to run with them.''

Philadelphia's 11-10 OT win in Buffalo last weekend was its third win in a row.

''Our players have shown a lot of character and resiliency and (goaltender Brandon) Miller has been fantastic,'' said Wings coach Johnny Mouradian.

Washington is coming off an 11-8 home win over Minnesota. The Stealth have won three of their last four.

''We're trying to be a little more consistent from game to game and quarter to quarter,'' said Perreault.

''We're finding our groove,'' said Stealth forward Brett Bucktooth.

Said Mouradian: ''We'll match up real well with them. We're not going to change a whole lot from what we do.''

Added Crowley: ''Hopefully we can get the jump on them early and build on that.''

BYES: ROCHESTER (4-5) and EDMONTON (5-5)


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