Today marks the 14th anniversary of the Mammoth’s storybook-like run to become NLL champions in 2006.
With Gary Gait retiring to become Colorado’s coach, there weren’t many expectations for the Mammoth heading into the 2006 season. The team was projected by many to reach the postseason, but it defied all odds by taking out the Calgary Roughnecks and Arizona Sting to reach the Champions Cup Final. The Mammoth would wrap up an incredible season by stunning a heavily-favored Buffalo Bandits team, led by NLL Hall of Famer John Tavares, in a commanding 16-9 win.
READ MORE: 2006 NLL Championship Team to Celebrate 14th Anniversary with Digital Chat May 13
While the entirety of the franchise’s first championship comprised of unforgettable moments, three moments stood out as the Mammoth secured its greatest victory in team history.
Sims Breaks Deadlock
Bandits goalie Steve Dietrich was insurmountable in the opening six minutes of the contest. Colorado’s Josh Sims made sure that hot streak wouldn’t extend to a seventh. The transition player took advantage of a poor mistake from Tavares and countered to score the Mammoth’s first goal of the 2006 Final. It was a monumental moment for the Mammoth, who was facing a penalty against a boisterous Buffalo crowd at HSBC Arena with nearly 16,000 fans in attendance. Sims’ vision and speed played a significant factor, as the Mammoth would never trail in the Final as a result and led by as many as six before Buffalo attempted its comeback.
Nash Denies Crosbie
Buffalo’s Jason Crosbie was overheard on cameras trying to rally his teammates seconds after Sims’ goal. On the ensuing play after, Crosbie would have a clear chance to tie for the Bandits. Fortunately for Colorado, Gee Nash was in goal.
Nash would come through with a vital save to deny Crosbie. It was a deflating sequence of events for Buffalo, whose crowd was trying to find anything to get into the contest. Nash would finish the game with 41 saves on 50 shots.
Prout Scores First of Four
The Mammoth offense started firing in the second quarter, recording five goals against Buffalo. Gavin Prout was the catalyst and it was his play in that quarter that would ultimately secure him the 2006 Finals MVP award.
At the 5:07 mark, Prout took advantage of a mistake by Buffalo’s offense as he received a long pass to finish past Dietrich. The play pushed Colorado’s lead to five and Prout would add to his tally by scoring another goal moments later. Prout, Sims, Dan Carey and Brian Langtry all tallied in what would ultimately be considered the deciding quarter of the game for the Mammoth.
Colorado’s 2006 win would leave a lasting legacy for both the organization and players involved in securing the franchise’s first championship. The Mammoth attracted impressive crowds during its third year as a franchise and the win validated that professional lacrosse could be a top draw in Colorado. For the players, being part one of the greatest upsets in league history certainly had its rewards.
Numerous members of the 2006 championship squad continued to play and coach in a various professional and collegiate lacrosse leagues. Pat Coyle currently serves as the head coach and general manager of the Colorado Mammoth while Gavin Prout is the head coach for the Arena Lacrosse League’s Whitby Steelhawks. Chris Gill serves as the head coach of the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors while Gary Gait serves as head coach of the Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse program. John Gallant also serves as the defensive coordinator at the University of Denver while Dan Carey is the general manager of the Rochester Knighthawks.
It all showcases just how impactful the win was.