After splitting a back-to-back road series with Vancouver (L, 7-5) and Saskatchewan (W, 12-6), the Mammoth are set to host the Buffalo Bandits for Colorado’s Beach Party at the Loud House at 7:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Jan. 25. Attendees will be able to enjoy frozen strawberry daquiri specials throughout the evening while donning their best beach shirts and board shorts.
After securing an impressive victory over the Division-leading Rush last weekend, the Mammoth are tied for first in the West with the Rush, having played two more games than Saskatchewan this season. The contest represents the solo regular season meeting between Colorado and Buffalo this year. Fans can stream Saturday’s matchup against Buffalo, as well as all Mammoth games, via Bleacher Report Live.
Last Time They Met
Buffalo posted a 15-12 victory over the Mammoth last season during the Bandits’ season-long six-game win streak en route to the team’s championship appearance as the result of the lone regular season matchup between the two franchises.
Dhane Smith led Buffalo in scoring with eight points (3g, 5a) Chase Fraser notched three goals. Veteran netminder Matt Vinc stopped 45-of-57 to secure the win.
Eli McLaughlin paced Colorado during the matchup with seven points (2g, 5a) while Kyle Killen logged a hat trick among five points (3g, 2a) as Ryan Lee registered five points himself (2g, 3a).
Colorado converted on three-of-three power-play opportunities in the contest, an area they’ve found success in this season, and will look to take advantage on special teams opportunities this weekend.
Early and Often
Following last weekend’s double-header on the road, the Mammoth have played five of its first seven games away from the Pepsi Center. After hosting the Saskatchewan Rush Nov. 29 as the league’s season-opening game, Colorado spent five weeks away from Pepsi Center, logging its next game Dec. 21 in Calgary and traveling to Georgia Dec. 28 before returning home for a Jan. 4 victory over Vancouver at the Loud House.
After securing a win in its most recent matchup in Saskatchewan, the Mammoth will host the Buffalo Bandits Jan. 25 for its Beach Party at the Loud House. Following this weekend’s sandy soiree, the Mammoth will visit Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for a Feb. 1 date with the San Diego Seals during the first professional lacrosse game to take place in Sin City before heading north to face Saskatchewan again Feb. 8.
Colorado will close out the season hosting six-of-eight remaining games, providing several opportunities for Mammoth fans to get the Loud House rocking during the stretch run as the team makes a push for playoffs.
Colorado heads into Saturday’s contest as one of three NLL teams to have completed seven games. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Buffalo enters Saturday’s matchup as one of three teams to have logged only four games this season through the league’s first eight weeks.
Down on the Farm
Colorado’s second-round selection (31st overall) in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, Jake McNabb, continues to turn heads in the Arena Lacrosse League after posting 27 points in his first three contests with the Oshawa Outlaws. The 5-11, 160-pound 23-year-old has exerted his dominance on the competition thus far and has rapidly climbed the league’s ranks despite only logging three games.
The forward’s 27 points (13g, 14a) rank tied for second overall, while his 13 goals rank first. McNabb’s 14 assists are also good for fourth place while his eight power-play goals rank first in the league. The Owen Sound, Ontario native posted an 11-point (6g, 5a) outing Dec. 28 against the Peterborough Timbermen and continues to provide elite scoring, ranking second in points and assists and first in goals for the Outlaws. The ALL rookie will travel with the Mammoth for the next two weekends as Colorado hosts Buffalo and then travels to Las Vegas Feb. 1 for the city’s first professional lacrosse game.
If Colorado’s prospect can continue to average nine points per game while producing well-rounded performances, look for McNabb to earn a promotion from the practice roster and log some NLL experience before the season comes to an end.
The Bandits picked up a 13-10 victory over the San Diego Seals to start its campaign before dropping a 15-10 decision to the Halifax Thunderbirds in its second contest. Buffalo bounced back with a pair of wins in its most recent contests, logging a 16-10 win over the Georgia Swarm and a scrappy 10-8 victory over the Toronto Rock last weekend. The Bandits currently sit in second place of the NLL’s North Division, one-and-a-half games back of the 5-0 Halifax Thunderbirds, who have defeated both Colorado and Buffalo during its perfect start to the season.
Buffalo has five forwards who have logged double-digit points through four contests, including: Dhane Smith (6g, 14a), Josh Byrne (10g, 7a), Chris Cloutier (9g, 7a), Corey Small (5g, 8a) and Chase Fraser (6g, 4a), who’s logged 10 points in just two games this season. Smith leads the Bandits in points, assists, shots (66) and shots on goal (45) while Byrne paces Buffalo with 10 goals.
The Bandits also feature a pair of transition players who continue to contribute on both ends of the floor in Ian MacKay (4g, 2a) and Matt Gilray (1g, 3a). MacKay has logged 20 loose balls and forced three caused turnovers, while Gilray has logged six caused turnovers and a team-high 26 loose balls.
Mitch de Snoo (0g, 1a) and Steve Priolo (0g, 3a) have provided solid defensive efforts this season, as de Snoo’s collected 26 loose balls and logged eight caused turnovers. The defenseman’s eight CTOs are good for sixth in the league overall and first among players with four games played.
Seven-time NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc has performed well in Buffalo’s first four games, posting a 3-1 record, 11.36 goals-allowed average and .808% save percentage. The veteran made 54-of-62 saves last week against Toronto to pick up his third win of the campaign.
While the Bandits don’t currently roster any players ranked in the top 15 of any scoring categories, largely in part due to the team only logging four games this season, Brent Noseworthy (T3rd) and Mitch de Snoo (7th) both rank top 10 in the league with 17 and 15 penalty minutes, respectively.
Buffalo will look to keep Fraser involved on the offensive end, who’s posted a hat trick in both contests and averaged five points-per-game since returning from injury, including a four-point performance (3g, 1a) Jan. 18 and a six-point showing (3g, 3a) Jan. 11 against Georgia.
After limiting some of the league’s most explosive offensive threats through its first seven games, expect Colorado to key in on Smith and Fraser while forcing the Bandits to spread the floor and find the open man Saturday evening.
Colorado continues to rely on its sound defensive effort, speedy transition game and efficient power-play to generate its steady offensive output. Ryan Lee (10g, 21a), Chris Wardle (12g, 12a), Eli McLaughlin (6g, 17a) and company have continued to find the net and connect with teammates to lead the Mammoth in scoring, while Jacob Ruest (12g, 7a) and Kyle Killen have provided secondary scoring for Colorado. Veteran Defenseman Robert Hope leads the loose ball charge with 58 scoops and joins the noted Mammoth players among the NLL’s leaders:
Goals: Jacob Ruest/Ryan Lee, 12 (T7th)
Assists: Ryan Lee, 21 (T3rd)
Points: Ryan Lee, 31 (2nd)
Power-Play Goals: Jacob Ruest, 5 (T2nd)
Power-Play Assists: Ryan Lee, 8 (4th)
Short-Handed Goals: Joey Cupido, 2 (1st)
Loose Balls: Robert Hope, 58 (3rd)
Caused Turnovers: Robert Hope, 7 (T10th)
Saves: Dillon Ward, 308 (1st)
Save Percentage: Dillon Ward, .837% (2nd—1st among G w/ 7 GP)
Goals Against Average: Dillon Ward, 8.50 (2nd—1st among G w/ 7 GP)
Goaltender Minutes: Dillon Ward, 427:01 (1st)
Warren Jeffrey, Colorado’s first-round pick (6th overall) in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, logged two points (1g, 1a) Jan. 18, including his first career NLL goal, during the team’s 12-6 victory over Saskatchewan. The Toronto, Ontario native has logged four points (1g, 3a), 25 loose balls and three caused turnovers in seven contests as the rookie defenseman joins fellow first-year players Brett Craig and Will Malcom in ranking among rookie league-leaders in several categories:
Goals: Will Malcom, 4 (T7th)
Assists: Will Malcom, 6 (T6th)
Points: Will Malcom, 10 (8th)
Power-Play Goals: Will Malcom, 1 (T3rd)
Loose Balls: Warren Jeffrey/Brett Craig, 25 (T8th)
Caused Turnovers: Warren Jeffrey/Brett Craig, 3 (T9th)
Shots: Will Malcom, 33 (T5th)
Shots on Goal: Will Malcom, 21 (6th)
Consistency is Key
The Mammoth continue to produce on both ends of the floor, executing a pass-first mentality and demonstrating unselfish play through the team’s first seven contests. Consistent performances from forwards and defenders alike continue to fuel Colorado’s transition game and special teams’ success. While the Mammoth have enjoyed spreading the offensive workload, at least one Colorado player has produced a hat trick in five-of-seven contests this season, including three-plus goal performances by Jacob Ruest (3g, 2a) Nov. 29, Jacob Ruest (5g, 2a) Dec. 28, Joey Cupido (3g, 2a) Jan. 4, Ryan Lee (3g, 2a) Jan. 11 and most recently Chris Wardle (5g) and Eli McLaughlin (3g, 4a), as each forward accomplished the feat Jan. 18 against Saskatchewan.
Several Mammoth players continue to contribute points each game, as seven forwards currently hold active point streaks to start the season:
Ryan Lee: (3-3-8-3-5-2-7)
Jacob Ruest: (5-2-7-1-2-1-1)
Chris Wardle: (2-3-6-2-4-2-5)
Kyle Killen: (2-3-3-1-3-3)
Eli McLaughlin: (5-4-4-3-7)
Jeff Wittig: (1-1-3-2-1)
Will Malcom: (3-3-2-1-1)
On the flip side, defenders and transition players continue to rack up stellar loose ball counts, with the following consistently leading the scooping charge thus far:
Robert Hope: (11-12-5-6-6-6-10)
Tim Edwards: (8-6-5-4-5-5-1)
Jordan Gilles: (4-4-7-8-2-8-9)
Joey Cupido: (4-6-4-1-6-3-9)
John Lintz: (4-4-3-7-2-1-4)
(Special) Team Effort:
After logging 12 goals on 47 shots last weekend against Saskatchewan, Colorado continues to balance a comfortable amount of shots on goal with a steady, physical defensive presence. Following a two-for-four power-play conversion rate against the Rush, the Mammoth rank first in the league with 15 power-play goals and fifth in power-play percentage (51.70%) through seven games.
Facing a Buffalo unit that’s surrendered 80 penalty minutes in four games, which is third most in the league, the Colorado power-play unit will look to stay hot against the Bandits’ penalty-kill unit, which has stopped only 52.40% of extra-man opportunities this season, ranking tenth overall. Comparatively, the Mammoth have stayed rather disciplined, committing 80 penalty minutes over the course of seven games.
Expect Colorado to establish its offensive presence early while continuing to lean on its veteran defensemen and elite goaltending combo against Buffalo. The Mammoth will look to take advantage of power-play opportunities while limiting penalties of its own and feeding the transition game whenever possible as Colorado hosts the Buffalo Bandits for its fan-favorite Beach Party at the Loud House Saturday.
Tickets to Colorado’s Jan. 25 matchup against the Buffalo Bandits and all Mammoth home games can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth home games will be aired on Altitude and Altitude 2 network stations, while all road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.