The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 13-4 final during Game 3 of the NLL Finals as the Buffalo Bandits claimed their first title since 2009 after falling to the Mammoth last season during the three-game series.
We’ve officially got a rivalry, as Colorado will take in everything it experienced Saturday night and reload for another run at the cup during the NLL’s 2023-23 season.
After picking up four goals during last weekend’s Game 2, Bandits’ scorer Tehoka Nanticoke got the Bandits on the board first by accepting a pass and storming directly to the crease, establishing a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.
Clutch as always, Connor Robinson evened the score at 1-1 with a tip-toeing effort, finishing a sick move while beating Buffalo goaltender Matt Vinc as the early scoring continued.
In buzzer-beating fashion, the Bandits’ Josh Byrne scored his second of the night with less than a second remaining to give the home team a lead as the first quarter expired.
About four minutes into the second quarter, Buffalo extended its lead to two courtesy of a Chase Fraser strike as the team assumed a 3-1 edge.
Continuing the run later in the second, Fraser faked going around a pick and pulled up with a quick shot, beating mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward.
Eventually earning one back for the good guys, Eli McLaughlin converted a saucy step-down from the top of the key to bring his team back with two, via the power play.
Buffalo carried a 5-2 advantage into the half, big quickly made it a 6-2 ball game as Byrne completed his hat trick just 28 seconds into the second half.
McLaughlin got one back for the burgundy boys with just under five remaining in the third quarter to negate Buffalo’s lead to three. But just 29 seconds later, Byrne showed off his two weeks of rest by notching his fourth of the night.
Keeping the run going, forward Dhane Smith picked one up en route to earning a five-goal advantage as Banditland fed off the game’s energy.
After the scrappiness led to a couple tussles, the Bandits found themselves on a man-up situation, which they quickly cashed in as the scoreboard read 9-3.
But just as fast, Colorado battled back with a diving dunk effort to climb back within five, as 11:09 remained on the clock after veteran Chris Wardle found the scoresheet, just the Mammoth’s fourth goal of the night.
As the ping pong match continued, Buffalo sparked a quick retaliation effort. Making it two in a row, a back door bid from Brad McCulley ran up the score for the home team, but less than 10 seconds later, a conversion fresh off the faceoff sealed the deal as the crowd exploded, just one year after seeing their orange squad drop the same game. Smith picked up another one as the eventual 2023 champs poured it on, cementing a 13-4 final.
Eli McLaughlin (2g, 1a) and Connor Robinson (1g, 2a) paced Mammoth scorers with three points each, while Chris Wardle (1g, 0a), Ryan Lee (0g, 1a), Zed Williams (0g, 1a) and Dylan Kinnear (0g, 1a) were the only Colorado producers throughout the 60-minute session.
Colorado personnel will now enjoy the summer and early fall with family, friends and their respective WLA/PLL teams before coming together for another run in November for training camp.
Mammoth fans can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels throughout the offseason for updates on the 2023-23 season and beyond.