March 15, 2011

Stevens on NLL: Why Langtry Will Lead Mammoth from Wilderness

by Neil Stevens |

Despite being 1-8, Colorado is just one game out of the playoffs. "I would bleed for a win," Mammoth veteran Brian Langtry said.

All is not lost for the Colorado Mammoth.

Sure, they are in last place in the National Lacrosse League's West Division with a lamentable 1-8 record.

Sure, they are on an epic 13-game home losing streak.

So, what, one might ask, is there to be optimistic about?

"We are one game out of the playoffs," said Mammoth forward Brian Langtry.

It's true.

Edmonton isn't doing much better than Colorado, and the two teams square off three times before their 16-game schedules expire April 23. The team that comes out on top in those three will probably make the playoffs.

As for the home losing streak, the Mammoth get their next chance to end it when the Boston Blazers show up at Denver's Pepsi Center on March 26.

"I would bleed for a win no matter what our record or present losing streak," Langtry said. "Right now, it is a bit more important because you want to keep your fans happy and coming back.

"Plus, with each loss the weight seems to get a bit heavier. We have to be approaching the nadir at this point."

Yes, a home win is long overdue.

Many of the losses have been agonizingly close, including eight by one goal and three by two.

Langtry, 34, who is originally from Massapaqua, N.Y., and played college lacrosse at Hofstra, can attest to a time when a home date was practically a guaranteed win.

Langtry has been Mr. Lacrosse in Denver since joining the Mammoth at their inception. He scored the winning goal in their first game, a 13-12, double-overtime victory over the Toronto Rock in 2003, and he went on to earn NLL honors as rookie of the year.

There was the night in March 2008 when he scored nine goals in one game. His 2009 stats included career bests in goals, 38, and points, 79.

Langtry enters Colorado's next game, that March 26 battle with Boston, just eight points shy of the 500 mark for his NLL career. With playoffs factored in, he has 531 total points.

Langtry also plays for the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse during his summers. He coaches and teaches at Cherry Creek (Colo.) High School. He's involved in clinics and camps all across Colorado.

Langtry, a 5-foot-11 forward, is eminently qualified to step up and be one of the players to lead the Mammoth out of the NLL wilderness in which they've been lost this year. He would bleed for a win.

Times were not always so lean at the Pepsi Center. Colorado won 10 straight home games wrapped around its 2006 Champion's Cup victory. "I remember being very happy very often," Langtry said.

Mammoth fans deserve one, because they've stuck with the team through thick and thin. They all remember the good times. So does Langtry. There was a memorable stretch, in particular, that was wrapped around the 2006 Champion's Cup triumph in Buffalo, when the Mammoth won 10 consecutive home games.

"I remember being very happy very often," he said. "I remember expecting to win each night out."

An athlete can have no better feeling.

"Winning a championship is the crowning achievement in my lacrosse career," Langtry said. ''Playing that game in Colorado would have been ideal, but Buffalo is the best place to be a villain, since they have a great, passionate fan base.

"We were a tight group. We had a good mix of vets and youth, Americans and Canadians."

Gary Gait was the head coach then. After the championship game, when the players returned to their HSBC Arena dressing room, Gait gathered them together and congratulated them. Langtry and then-teammate Gavin Prout led all NLL postseason scorers with 10 goals each in the three games it took to win the title that sensational spring.

It was only Colorado's fourth year in the league.

"We had fan support in Denver from Day 1," Langtry said. "Then we won the championship, and anytime you win a championship, you grow the fan base. You have to win to keep them coming back."

It's a city craving for a winner again.

The home losing streak will end. It can't go on forever. But the breakthrough has to come from the offense. Mammoth goalie Chris Levis has a goals against average, 10.35, that is fourth-best in the league.

The April 1-2 weekend looms large. Colorado is at Edmonton that Friday, and the teams clash again 24 hours later in Denver. A playoff berth will probably hang in the balance.

All is not lost. All those prepared to bleed for a win, step forward.

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