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Tackling The Mammoth with Kyle Killen: Playing ‘Even Keel’

The mammoth-sized synergy within the core group of the Colorado Mammoth has endured for over half a decade. 

Warriors’ forward Kyle Killen spent the first two years of his NLL career with the Mammoth and says Vancouver will need to beat Colorado at their own game this Friday when the two teams meet for the second time this season. 

The Warriors will need to be calm, cool and collected. Making sure they’re sticking to their game plan and chip away one goal at a time. 

“Lacrosse is a game of runs, they’re going to score, we’re going to score so it’s just about staying even keel,” Killen said. “If they do get on a couple goal runs, we just need to sit back and breathe and stick to what we know and try to close out the game.” 

In their first meeting this season, the Warriors lost to the Mammoth in overtime and the 27-year-old Killen noted Colorado plays the same no matter the deficit, so Vancouver will need to keep the pressure on throughout the game. 

“They’re never really out of the fight, so as soon as you seem to let up a little bit, that’s when they seem to take advantage of it. The NLL is a game of runs, so whatever team has the momentum usually wins so we just have to keep our foot on the gas when we get up and try to finish the game out,” he shared. 

Winning the special teams battle will be important against a tough Colorado penalty kill. The Mammoth are second in the league, allowing seven goals in six games on the PK. The Warriors are fourth in the NLL on the PK allowing eight goals in six. Vancouver holds the advantage on the power play at 38% over Colorado’s 24%. 

Killen, known for his scoring prowess, had 59 points in his first season with the Warriors. This season, he’s secured nine points, three goals and six assists, through six games, and although it’s not where Killen thought he’d be this many games in, there’s only one way to go…up. 

“It’s no secret that I haven’t had the start of the season that I’ve wanted but once you’re in a little rut with shooting there’s only one way to get out of it and that’s to keep shooting,” Killen said. “I just need to keep working on that and try to find the best shot possible and at the end of the day they’re going to start to fall.” 

Warriors’ Head Coach and General Manager Curt Malawsky said Killen’s off-ball play has been great and he’s playing well within the system.  

“He’s a good teammate, he gets good chances, and he had a really good pass to Keegan Bal on the power play last game,” Malawsky said. “He’s a smart player and he cares, it’ll come for him, and he just needs to know that we’ve got trust and faith in him. Every goal scorer, the more they want it the tougher it is so we’re just empowering him to shoot so you get hot.”  

As Killen prepares for the Mammoth matchup, he’s keeping in mind that by continuing to practice with good habits and having the support of the coaching staff and his teammates the ball will find the back of the net more often. 

“It means a lot to have their confidence in me. I haven’t really been in this position before in the NLL, so it’s been a little bit of a struggle but at the end of the day, especially in practice, they’re never getting mad at me for taking a shot. They’re trying to instill that confidence back in me and once they start falling, I have a feeling they’re going to keep falling,” Killen said. 

Killen is looking forward to Thursday, being back with his teammates, and getting in a good practice and readying themselves to play a steady 60 on Friday. 

Maybe we’ll see a patented Killen dunk? 

He laughed, “Yes, I haven’t had any this year, so hopefully there’s more to come here.” 

Vancouver Warriors