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Colorado, Calgary Set to Clash Inside LOUD HOUSE Saturday

COLORADO MAMMOTH (1-4) VS. CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (2-2)
SAT. JAN. 20 | 7 P.M. MT | BALL ARENA
ALTITUDE TV | ESPN+

DENVER – After dropping a 12-8 final to the San Diego Seals last Saturday inside Ball Arena, the Colorado Mammoth enter its Week 8 showdown with the Calgary Roughnecks sporting a 1-4 record for the first time in, well … a while.

Surrendering three different three-goal runs to the Seals last weekend, the boys were able to notch three-straight midway through the fourth quarter, but the comeback came up short, as Wes Berg (1g, 6a) and Austin Staats (3g, 2a) continued San Diego’s storied regular season dominance over the Mammoth.

Dropping both of its past two matchups with matching 12-8 results, Colorado has been on the unfortunate side of the score in four of five this season after producing 9-9 and 10-8 records the past two seasons.

Thankfully teams aren’t racing to the 18-win mark to secure a postseason berth, with 10 wins typically being enough to punch a playoff ticket in recent years. With eight spots up for grabs between the league’s 15 teams and the Albany FireWolves out to a blazing hot 6-0 start, it’s likely one of the eight have already been claimed. Looking past Albany, it’s the (4-0) Toronto Rock and (4-2) Georgia Swarm which represent the organizations who have come out hottest.

A majority of teams from the league’s previous Western Conference continue to rank in the bottom half of the standings, with the (3-2) San Diego Seals representing the one of seven squads to meet the three-win mark thus far.

Set to embark upon their fifth and sixth matchups of the year, respectively, the Calgary Roughnecks (2-2) and Colorado Mammoth (1-4) qualify as two of six said teams, albeit getting their seasons started in two different fashions. Initially dropping early-season contests against the Rochester Knighthawks and San Diego Seals, the Roughnecks have endured several bye weeks to begin the campaign, having logged just four games through seven weeks of competition. Turning things around since dropping their opening two matches of the season, the Roughnecks most recently secured a pair of wins in their last two games, picking up a 17-11 win over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs and notching a 14-7 victory over the Vancouver Warriors last weekend.

Entering this weekend’s MIX 100 Night showdown inside the LOUD HOUSE, Calgary currently occupies the No. 7 overall rank as the only NLL squad toting an even .50 record. Balanced by elite goaltending efforts, courtesy of one Christian Del Bianco, and several scoring options up front, new head coach Josh Sanderson seems to have his team in a good spot heading into Week 8, now 2-0 in their last two opportunities.

RELATED: Mammoth Acquire Forward Thomas Vela from Calgary Roughnecks

Just one week after sending forward Brett McIntyre to the Roughnecks in exchange for forward Thomas Vela (who made his debut with Colorado last weekend inside Ball Arena), the squads will now meet for the first and only time during the 2023-24 regular season schedule. A bit of an oddity for the two established rivals, used to playing each other a good two or three times per campaign.

With forward Dylan Kinnear getting healthy, after being placed on the team’s Injured Reserve List last weekend, just two other players remain on the squad’s Injured Reserve List at this point of the season in defenseman Noah Lebar and veteran Josh Sullivan.

Saturday’s matchup inside the LOUD HOUSE represents the first and only matchup against the Roughnecks this season and the only to be hosted inside Ball Arena, with the teams having a chance to settle some well-established playoff beef during a potential postseason date, should the tournament bracket allow. After seeing Calgary exit more than a decade’s worth of postseason meetings in the win column, Colorado has eliminated the Roughnecks in each of the past two seasons, initially during the Quarterfinal when the team won it all in 2021-22 and most recently last year, defeating the organization in a best-of-three West Conference Finals en route to securing a spot in the NLL Finals for a second-straight season.

Representing the fifth and final Week 8 showdown, with four of the five games being played on Saturday evening, two of the league’s most storied franchises are set to duke it out during pivotal points in each of their respective seasons. Calgary has much to benefit from a victory, and would become just the seventh team to secure its third win through the opening eight weeks of action. However, for the Mammoth, this is very much a “Must Win” game, as the contest already marks the fourth of nine regular season games to be hosted inside the LOUD HOUSE and last for more than a month, as the team is set to be on the road until returning to the comforts of Ball Arena on Friday, Feb. 23 for a dance with the 1-4 New York Riptide.

Saturday night’s showdown against the Roughnecks is set to begin at 7 p.m. MT inside Ball Arena! Fans can catch the team’s sixth showdown of the year on Altitude TV and ESPN+ and can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for game highlights, postgame recap, press conference takeaways and beyond!

Last Time They Met

As mentioned, Calgary has very much enjoyed matching up with Colorado in the postseason for more than 15 years. But after seeing the Mammoth eliminate them in both of their last two playoff runs, there’s definitely an element of a revenge game here for some of the guys on last year’s squad. While a majority of front office and coaching personnel changes have occurred, there are still many players remaining on the gray and white squad who very much remember how last season ended.

Meeting for the third time in three weeks, the Mammoth and Roughnecks last faced off inside Scotiabank Saddledome to settle the best-of-three West Conference Finals on May 20, some eight months ago. The low-scoring, high-effort affair saw just one player record four or more points, with Colorado scoring expert Zed Williams pacing the game with four points (2g, 2a).

It was Zed and Eli McLaughlin who got on the board early for the Mammoth, but with Calgary turning in an epic early effort, the home team took a 4-2 advantage into the second. Eventually outscoring the Roughnecks 4-1 in said quarter, with goals coming from Ryan Lee, Chris Wardle, Tyson Gibson and defenseman Tim Edwards, Colorado brought a 6-5 lead into the half. Visibly exhausted as the season and game grew long, Calgary notched a pair of third-quarter goals to recapture a 7-6 advantage with 15 to play. But in typical resilient, second-half fashion, the burgundy boys battled back, as Williams, Warren Jeffrey and Connor Robinson putting the topper on the cake and solidifying a 9-7 final as Colorado moved on to the NLL Finals once again.

Leading the Way

After scoring a team-high six points (3g, 3a) during last week’s game against San Diego, forward Eli McLaughlin surpassed NLL Hall of Fame legend John Grant Jr. for the most goals in franchise history (236), now sitting at 237 total goals in his own storied career. Earning his third hat trick in five games, Liger is now pacing the team in all three offensive scoring categories, including points (23), goals (11) and assists (12) as the veteran continues to showcase his abilities to dish and score at the same time. From diving goals and outside lasers to quality picks and a whole lot of body banging, he’s worked well with teammate Connor Robinson on the right side of the floor since the organization acquired the Magic Man from the Saskatchewan Rush three years ago. Representing the team with a squad-best 40 loose balls, seven caused turnovers and nine blocked shots, team captain and longtime defenseman Robert Hope maintains his lead in each category, joining the following players in leading the charge, including:

Points: 23 (Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 11 (Eli McLaughlin)

Assists: 12 (Eli McLaughlin)

Loose Balls: 40 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 7 (Robert Hope)

Penalty Minutes: 25 (Jordan Gilles)

Blocked Shots: 9 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 74 (Tim Edwards)

Consistency is Key

It’s no surprise to see captain Robert Hope included among the team’s leaders in loose balls, caused turnovers and blocked shots, but when the veteran defenseman is one of just seven Mammoth players this season to score in each game they’ve played (and just one of five to score in all five games this season), that means he’s either been on the lucky end of a few long transition passes or is getting his long legs moving up the floor as a transition threat himself! Typically occupied by the likes of Joey Cupido, Jalen Chaster, Jordan Gilles and beyond, Hope hasn’t been the first or second guy off the floor this season, instead sticking around to make sure the crease is cleared alongside the ball. Unafraid to sling a turf-long pass to a Connor Robinson, Tyson Gibson or whoever is sprinting off the bench in “hopes” of getting an odd-man opportunity, the talented back-ender is using both his wheels and elite lacrosse IQ in keeping his point streak alive. Now notching at least one point in each contest he’s participated in, he joins the following Mammoth players in contributing on both sides of the floor, including:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (3g, 3a) = 23 points (11g, 12a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 1a), (2g, 3a) = 18 points (9g, 9a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a) = 15 points (4g, 11a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 2a) = 15 points (9g, 6a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 2a) = 12 points (4g, 8a)

Robert Hope: (0g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 1a) = 6 points (0g, 6a)

Evan Downey: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

Long Time Rivals

It’s easy to live in the past, but if the 2-2 Calgary Roughnecks hope to peak above the .500 mark for the first time this season, they’ll need to focus on the now if they hope to solve Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward and company Saturday night inside Ball Arena. With longtime bench boss Curt Malawsky ending his time in Calgary and joining forces with the Vancouver Warriors this past offseason, a new guard prepares to lead the Roughnecks into the LOUD HOUSE as the teams renew their rivalry in 2024. With former Roughnecks’ standout Josh Sanderson assuming the role, bringing Troy Cordingley and Phil Sanderson along for the ride to oversee offensive and defensive sets, this is quite the different vibe for Calgary, despite retaining a majority of its existing talent.

Through the team’s first four games, forward Jesse King leads the way with a team-best 29 points (8g, 21a). Fresh off a six-point (3g, 3a) effort last weekend during the team’s 14-7 win over the Vancouver Warriors, he’s been a threat for many years now, and will look to continue his productive start to the season Saturday by keeping his teammates involved while keeping an eye on the corners himself. Looking down the team’s scoring sheet on the year, next up is Tyler Pace, who’s amassed 22 points (8g, 14a) in four appearances this season. Pacer, as the boys call him, has been known to enjoy his fair share of games against Colorado the past few years, and will look to advance said successful streak Saturday when he goes to war alongside Tanner Cook and Haiden Dickson.

After racking up seven points (5g, 2a) en route to coming up one goal short of the sock trick feat last weekend in Vancouver, Cook rounds out the team’s 20-point producers this far into the season (7g, 13a). Leading the team in goal-scoring overall, it’s Dickson (10g, 4a) who’s had the hottest stick on the season. Turning in a four-point (1g, 3a) effort during the squad’s last out, it’ll be up to these four forwards to do the heavy lifting, with Dan Taylor (2g, 9a) and Josh Currier 6g, 5a) the next-best options for Calgary. Transition specialist Zach Currier (0g, 4a) continues to pave the way with team-best totals in loose balls (29) and caused turnovers (eight) while remaining a threat to both score on the best goaltenders in the world while defending some of the best forwards to lace em’ up. Needless to say, Saturday’s showdown is going to be a quality match of lacrosse!

All of that matters little, though, without the elite netminding efforts of one Christian Del Bianco, who’s been recognized as one of the game’s greatest talents for the past few seasons. Bringing a 2-2 record, 11.00 goals-against average and .795 save percentage into what should be his fifth start of the season, stopping shots for the Roughnecks is all he’s ever known, which will be his exact plan of attack come Saturday night. Known to feed his teammates with some of the most beautiful, lofted passes in the game, he’s also logged two assists through the first four games of the year, a category he will look to raise the count on this weekend in Ball Arena.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s Jan. 20 matchup against the Calgary Roughnecks can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live on ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on the team’s social media channels and coloradomammoth.com for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2023-24 NLL season.

Limited tickets for Colorado’s MIX 100 Night at the LOUD HOUSE matchup against the Calgary Roughnecks Jan. 20 at Ball Arena remain available!

 

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team