November 30, 2012

Colorado Mammoth Look to Colossal Combo Up Front

by Neil Stevens |

John Grant Jr. (above) will now have 6-foot-8, 260-pound Rich Morgan as his running buddy.
© Larry Palumbo

Imagine 6-foot-8, 260-pound Rich Morgan setting picks to spring 6-foot-2, 225-pound John Grant Jr. for scoring chances. That’s Colorado Mammoth general manager Steve Govett’s vision.

“He’s always killed us,” said Govett, who signed Morgan with that combination in mind even though he has played defense his entire NLL career. “We’re going to use him on the offensive end so Junior doesn’t have to drag two or three guys to the net.”

Grant enjoyed a magical 2012 season, setting the NLL record with 116 points despite missing two games with a broken sternum—courtesy of Morgan.

“He’s always had his way with me,” Grant said. “But he’s capable at both ends of the floor and he’s got a scoring touch, so it’s great to have him with us now. Instead of him throwing me through the boards he’ll be throwing somebody else through the boards. It will be like having a big fullback up front or like playing behind a great offensive line. I’m not as fast as I used to be, so I’m going to need a little help getting open.”

Morgan was not the only offseason addition. Colorado also signed transition player Chet Koneczny, formerly of the Washington Stealth, and goalie Matt Roik, who was cut by the Toronto Rock midseason and will push incumbent starter Chris Levis. The Mammoth drafted

After suffering through 4-12 and 5-11 seasons in 2010 and 2011, respectively, Colorado regained its swagger with an 11-5 mark in 2012. But the Minnesota Swarm upset the Mammoth 14-10 in the first round of the playoffs.

“We peaked a little early and [eventual NLL champion] Rochester peaked late,” Govett said. “How close were we? I think we were very close.”

Injuries to Gavin Prout (calf) and Levis (groin) exposed Colorado’s lack of depth. Govett thinks the Mammoth got grittier with the acquisitions of Morgan and Koneczny and the selection of Colton Clark — a big, strong righty — with the ninth overall pick in the entry draft.

Another boost for the Mammoth is the likelihood that defenseman Mac Allen, who missed the first half of the 2012 season rehabbing from knee surgery, and forward Brad Dalgarno, who sat out to focus on his new career as a firefighter in British Columbia, should be available for the 2013 season opener in January.

“We’ve got a bitter taste in our mouths and want to show the great fans in Colorado that we’re building a championship team that can go all the way,” Grant said.

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli — a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor — are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.

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