The Colorado Mammoth secured its third victory of the season by completing the comeback effort to post a 13-9 win over the Vancouver Warriors Jan. 4 at Pepsi Center. After allowing four goals in the first five minutes of the contest, Dillon Ward regained his composure to make several spectacular saves while only allowing five during the duration of the contest to play hero for the Mammoth. Joey Cupido logged a hat trick and led Colorado in scoring with five points (3g, 2a) while Eli McLaughlin netted four points (2g, 2a) in his first game back from injury. Forward Will Malcom added to his impressive rookie season by netting two goals.
“It’s a great character win by us to be able to get back to the game plan and I think we dominated once we were able to do that,” Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward said. “It would’ve been easy for us to quit, but we kept our heads up and our message at halftime was to keep going.”
Vancouver came out firing in the opening frame as Keegan Bal opened the scoring three minutes into the contest before Jordan McBride added another 40 seconds later. Logan Schuss established the Warriors’ three-goal lead four minutes into the first quarter with his first of the night.
Jordan McBride finished a give-and-go by diving across the crease to make it 4-0 at the 5:36 mark, forcing Tyler Carlson to enter the game and spell Dillon Ward after the goaltender surrendered four early goals. Ward re-entered the game with five minutes to play in the first quarter.
“We didn’t panic – we have a lot of veterans in that locker room, especially on the defensive side, and we knew that four goals weren’t enough to win a lacrosse game, so we got back to what we do best and gave ourselves a chance by playing our game,” said Joey Cupido, following Saturday’s 13-9 victory.
Rookie Will Malcom got Colorado on the board with 90 seconds remaining in the opening quarter for his third of the year. Returning to action after missing two games due to injury, Eli McLaughlin followed up Malcom’s marker with a goal of his own 14 seconds later to make it a 4-2 contest.
Vancouver captain Matt Beers re-established the Warriors’ three-goal lead with a laser over Ward’s left shoulder with 30 seconds remaining in the first.
Despite both squads logging 12 shots on goal in the first quarter, the Mammoth only converted two as the Warriors took a 5-2 lead into the second frame.
Vancouver picked up where they left off early in the second as Logan Schuss netted a goal 30 seconds into the second quarter to make it a 6-2 game.
Colorado captain Dan Coates answered back two minutes later while operating the transition game and then navigating around a pick for the conversion.
A holding-the-stick penalty on Chris Wardle at the 4:00 mark set up a Vancouver power play opportunity. Following a missed Warriors shot, Dillon Ward sent a high stretch pass to Joey Cupido, who showed off his speedy elusiveness and converted with a short-handed breakaway to make it a 6-4 game.
After a slow start in the first quarter, Ward made several amazing saves throughout the second and allowed only one goal to keep the Mammoth in the contest.
Jordan Gilles continued his trend of providing important, timely goals as he received a pass from Joey Cupido off a screen and converted past Vancouver goaltender Eric Penney’s right side to make it a one-goal game at 6-5.
Bal logged his second of the contest one minute into the third, as the Warriors continued to exert their ability to shoot and score early and often in any given period.
Wardle responded a minute later with a heavy wind up and step-in snipe past Penney to bring it back to a one-goal game at 7-6.
Will Malcom brushed off his defender and stepped around him seven minutes into the third before converting his fourth of the year and second on the night to tie the game at 7-7.
Following a penalty call on Coates, Gilles connected with Cupido on another stretch lob pass to create a breakaway attempt for Cupido, who converted his second short-handed goal of the evening and established Colorado’s first lead of the night.
Vancouver converted on its next extra-man opportunity by completing several passes around the crease before eventually finding the open man in Schuss, who netted his third of the evening to complete the hat trick and tie the game at 8-8 heading into the final frame.
Ryan Lee re-captured the lead for Colorado with a quick shot from the right side that snuck past Penney’s right shoulder three minutes into the fourth quarter before McLaughlin added his second of the night 54 seconds later to establish a two-goal lead for the Mammoth.
Coates was called for a holding penalty a minute later to set up Vancouver’s 2nd extra-man opportunity of the night as Mitch Jones converted a power-play goal to bring it back to a one-goal game with nine minutes remaining.
Jeff Wittig contributed a clutch goal with three minutes left in the fourth to make it 11-9 in favor of Colorado. Vancouver pulled its goaltender with 1:50 to play down two goals before Joey Cupido completed his hat trick with an empty net goal at the 13:54 mark to seal the game. Jacob Ruest provided another insurance goal 45 seconds later to cement a final score of 13-9.
“The Pepsi Center was electric tonight – we have the best fans in the league and when you put in a performance like that to get the crowd back behind you and everyone gets loud, I’m glad we were able to come through for them,” Cupido said.
Ward stopped 38-of-47 and added two assists in his third consecutive victory in net as the netminder and Colorado’s defensive unit limited Vancouver to the Warriors’ season-low 47 shots on goal.
Schuss (2g, 3a) and Bal finished the evening with five points (2g, 3a) while Penney stopped 33-of-45.
“We can’t come out the way we did tonight again,” Ward said. “You can’t expect to get down like that early and win in this league. We have to come out quick and physical early next week rather than have to chase the score.”
Colorado will look to extend its three-game win streak as the Mammoth travel to Halifax Saturday to take on the 3-0 Thunderbirds Jan. 11.
Through four contests, forward Jacob Ruest leads the Mammoth in goals (11) while Ryan Lee continues to pace Colorado in points (17) and assists (12) after picking up three points (1g, 2a) Saturday against Vancouver.