After dropping a devastating 13-12 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bandits last weekend, Colorado will look to get back in the win column as the Mammoth travel to Las Vegas to faceoff with the San Diego Seals as Sin City bears witness to its first professional lacrosse game Feb. 1.
The West Division duel represents the first of two regular season meetings between Colorado and San Diego this year and holds great implications in the league’s most competitive division through nine weeks. Fans can stream Saturday’s NLL Game of the Week for free on Facebook, Twitter or Bleacher Report Live.
Last Time They Met
Colorado dropped a 12-7 decision to San Diego April 19 despite limiting its opponent to 40 shots on goal as the Seals completed the series sweep between the West Division opponents during the team’s inaugural season.
Dan Dawson (3g, 4a) and Kyle Buchanan (3g, 4a) led San Diego in scoring, while Casey Jackson added six points (4g, 2a) on the evening. Frank Scigliano stopped 45-of-52 to secure the win for the Seals.
Kyle Killen paced Colorado in the matchup with four points (2g, 2a) while Brad Self (2g, 0a) netted two goals. Chris Wardle, Ryan Lee and Jeff Wittig each chipped in a goal during a scrappy contest that saw a combined 39 penalty minutes.
Viva Las Vegas
Two weeks after the NLL announced its first U.S. gaming partnership with BetMGM, the Mammoth and Seals will travel to Orleans Arena in Las Vegas to take place in the city’s first professional lacrosse game. The monumental evening is set to draw fans and NLL personnel from across the country to the gaming capital of the world, Feb. 1. In the league’s continued effort to grow the game of lacrosse in various markets around the country, the weekend is set to celebrate the game, league success and partners around the world.
The NLL will also host its first business summit in Las Vegas this week, where team and league executives will share successes and strategies. Participants will hear and learn from executives from the UFC and Las Vegas Golden Knights, as well as league partners Turner Sports, Two Circles, Greenfly and more on best practices, evolving business strategies and revenue-generating activities.
Early and Often
Following last weekend’s double-header on the road, the Mammoth have played five of its first eight games away from 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. Following a road-and-road series against Vancouver and Saskatchewan, Colorado returned to Pepsi Center last weekend against Buffalo and will hit the road again this weekend.
The Mammoth are set to visit Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for a Feb. 1 date with the San Diego Seals as the first professional lacrosse game to take place in Sin City before heading north to face Saskatchewan again Feb. 8. Through the team’s first 10 matches, seven of ten will have taken place on the road.
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 eight games through the league’s first nine weeks of action. San Diego has logged seven games so far and brings a 2-5 record into Las Vegas this weekend.
Hit Me with Your WEST Shot
Heading into Saturday’s contest against San Diego, the Mammoth have competed against West Division opponents in five of its first eight matchups and will face the Seals this weekend as its sixth divisional duel in the team’s first nine games. Colorado currently leads the division in goals-for (80) through eight matches, while San Diego has surrendered the most goals in the West with 83 goals-against through seven games.
As the league’s lone division with five teams, Colorado has been afforded several early looks at its divisional opponents and has captured three of the five matches so far this season.
Comparatively, San Diego has faced West Division opponents in only three-of-seven matchups this season, having logged cross-divisional meetings with the Toronto Rock, Buffalo Bandits, Halifax Thunderbirds and most recently, New York Riptide.
The West continues to be the league’s most competitive division, as the Saskatchewan Rush hold a half game advantage over Colorado while the Calgary Roughnecks and Vancouver Warriors remain a mere game-and-a-half back of first place. Despite its 2-5 record and slow start to the season, San Diego remains two games back from Saskatchewan with a looming divisional matchup against the Mammoth this weekend. Fans and teams alike can expect the division to feature an intense race to the finish line as the season begins to approach the halfway mark.
Shoot Your Shot
San Diego started its season with three-consecutive losses to the Buffalo Bandits, Toronto Rock and Calgary Roughnecks before picking up its first victory of the campaign with an overtime win over the Vancouver Warriors Dec. 29 at Rogers Arena. Despite limiting the 6-0 Thunderbirds to eight goals Jan. 18, the Seals dropped decisions against Saskatchewan (12-9) and Halifax (8-5) before picking up a 15-11 win against the 1-7 New York Riptide last weekend for the team’s second win in seven games. Despite its slow start to the season, San Diego remains merely two games back of first place in the West Division.
The Seals currently roster five forwards who have accumulated double-digit point totals through seven contests, including: Wesley Berg (12g, 20a), Connor Fields (12g, 13a), Kyle Buchanan (5g, 13a) and former Colorado Mammoth players Zack Greer (12g, 18a) and Jeremy Noble (7g, 14a).
Berg leads San Diego in points, assists, power-play goals (7), shots (103) and shots on goal (75). The forward ranks among league-leaders in points (T7th), assists (T8th), power-play goals (1st), shots (T2nd) and shots on goal (2nd).
Berg, Greer and Fields are tied as the team’s leading goal scorers with 12 tallies and rank tied for 14th in the league alongside Mammoth forward Chris Wardle and New York’s Tyler Digby, while Greer ranks tied for 10th in scoring with 30 points and Fields leads NLL forwards with 49 loose balls.
The Seals’ top-heavy offense features some of the league’s most frequent shooters, including several league-leading forwards in shots and shots on goal:
Wesley Berg: 103 (T2nd)
Zack Greer: 96 (T5th)
Kyle Buchanan: 91 (8th)
Connor Fields: 85 (T10th)
Shots on Goal
Wesley Berg: 75 (2nd)
Kyle Buchanan: 68 (4th)
Zack Greer: 97 (5th)
Connor Fields: 62 (T10th)
San Diego also rosters a pair of offensive-minded defensemen in Brodie Merrill (1g, 9a) and former Mammoth defenseman Cam Holding (3g, 3a). Merrill remains tied for first among the league’s defenseman in scoring while the duo leads the Seals in loose balls (58, 51) and caused turnovers (6, 7), respectively, while ranking sixth and eighth on the team in scoring.
Coming off its season-high 15-goal outing against the Riptide last weekend, San Diego will look to continue to record league-high shot totals against Colorado. With Berg (2g, 3a), Fields (1g, 4a), Jackson (2g, 2a), Noble (1g, 5a) and Greer (1g, 3a) coming off productive performances from the Seals’ matchup with New York, San Diego should keep its focus on the offensive end of the floor but will need to remain consistent on the back end while facing a much tougher test in Colorado’s elite defense Saturday.
Colorado continues to spread the offensive load among several forwards this season while relying on its sound defensive effort and efficient power-play unit. Following a five-goal performance last weekend against Buffalo, Ryan Lee (15g, 21a) continues to pace the Mammoth in scoring, while Chris Wardle (12g, 20a) logged eight assists in Colorado’s most recent matchup against the Bandits Jan. 25. Eli McLaughlin (7g, 23a), Jacob Ruest (13g, 10a) and Kyle Killen (6g, 11a) continue to produce for the Mammoth as Joey Cupido’s twelve points (5g, 7a) rank second in the league among transition players. Veteran Defenseman Robert Hope remains atop the team’s loose ball charts with 63 scoops and joins the noted Mammoth players among the NLL’s leaders:
Goals: Ryan Lee, 15 (T5th)
Assists: Eli McLaughlin, 23 (T3rd)
Points: Ryan Lee, 36 (T3rd)
Power-Play Goals: Jacob Ruest, 5 (T3rd)
Power-Play Assists: Ryan Lee/Eli McLaughlin, 8 (T4th)
Short-Handed Goals: Joey Cupido, 2 (1st)
Loose Balls: Robert Hope, 63 (5th)
Caused Turnovers: Robert Hope, 8 (T14th)
Saves: Dillon Ward, 345 (1st)
Save Percentage: Dillon Ward, .825% (4th—1st among G w/ 8 GP)
Goals Against Average: Dillon Ward, 8.96 (4th—1st among G w/ 8 GP)
Goaltender Minutes: Dillon Ward, 489:00 (1st)
Dylan Kinnear, Colorado’s third-round pick (39th overall) in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, recorded a pair of goals last weekend during the team’s 13-12 overtime loss to give the rookie six points (3g, 3a) in five games with the Mammoth. Fellow first-year forward Dylan Molloy logged three points in his third professional appearance Saturday, including his first NLL goal to open the scoring for the Mammoth and his first professional assist 11 minutes later. Warren Jeffrey, Colorado’s first-round pick (6th overall) in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, scooped two loose balls and forced one caused turnover to give the Toronto, Ontario native 27 loose balls and four caused turnovers on the season.
Despite missing Colorado’s last two games as a member of the practice roster, Will Malcom joins Jeffrey in ranking among rookie league-leaders in several categories:
Goals: Will Malcom, 4 (T7th)
Assists: Will Malcom, 6 (8th)
Points: Will Malcom, 10 (8th)
Power-Play Goals: Will Malcom, 1 (T4th)
Loose Balls: Warren Jeffrey, 27 (T7th)
Caused Turnovers: Warren Jeffrey, 4 (T3rd)
Shots: Will Malcom, 33 (T7th)
Shots on Goal: Will Malcom, 21 (T7th)
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 eight contests. Consistent performances from forwards and defenders alike continue to fuel Colorado’s competitive contests while disciplined play continues to support the Mammoth’s special teams’ success.
While the Mammoth have enjoyed spreading the offensive workload, at least one Colorado player has produced a hat trick in six-of-eight 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, Chris Wardle (5g) and Eli McLaughlin (3g, 4a) Jan. 18, and most recently Ryan Lee (5g, 0a) against Buffalo Jan. 25
Several Mammoth players continue to contribute points each game, as seven forwards currently hold active point streaks to start the season:
Ryan Lee: (3-3-8-3-5-2-7-5)
Jacob Ruest: (5-2-7-1-2-1-1-4)
Chris Wardle: (2-3-6-2-4-2-5-8)
Kyle Killen: (2-3-3-1-3-3-3)
Eli McLaughlin: (5-4-4-3-7-7)
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: (11-12-5-6-6-6-10-5)
Tim Edwards: (8-6-5-4-5-5-1-2)
Jordan Gilles: (4-4-7-8-2-8-9-10)
Joey Cupido: (4-6-4-1-6-3-9-3)
John Lintz: (4-4-3-7-2-1-4-3)
No “I” in Team
After logging 12 goals on 53 shots last weekend against Buffalo, Colorado continues to balance a comfortable amount of shots on goal with a steady, physical defensive presence. Following a two-for-two power-play conversion rate against the Bandits, the Mammoth are tied with San Diego for first in the league with 17 power-play goals and remain ranked fifth in power-play percentage (54.80%) through eight games.
Facing a Seals unit that’s surrendered 93 penalty minutes in seven games, which is tied for fourth-most in the league, the Colorado power-play unit will look to stay hot against San Diego’s penalty-kill unit, which has allowed 14 and stopped only 53.30% of extra-man opportunities this season. As a point of reference, the Mammoth have stayed disciplined, committing 84 penalty minutes over the course of eight games.
Expect Colorado to lean on its veteran defenseman and elite goaltending, while continuing to exert its offensive capabilities against a Seals’ defense that has allowed an average of 11.6 goals-per-contest.
Tickets to Colorado’s Feb. 15 matchup against the San Diego Seals, 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. Fans can stream Saturday’s NLL Game of the Week for free on Facebook, Twitter or Bleacher Report Live.