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Colorado Concludes Back-to-Back with 12-11 Final in Las Vegas

DENVER – The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 12-11 final to the Las Vegas Desert Dogs Saturday night inside Michelob ULTRA Arena, falling to 5-12 on the season. With Dillon Ward, Connor Robinson and Josh Sullivan being moved to the team’s Injured Reserve List Saturday afternoon, the contest saw several of the team’s young prospects give it a go.

At the beginning of Training Camp last fall, Brett Craig was still recovering from his knee injury but just didn’t look like the same man he was when drafted back in 2019. Fast forward to the middle of this season and he’s arguably been the team’s most important transition threat on the year.

Stepping up once again in tranny play, Craig carried the rock the entire way before eventually slamming home a shot past Las Vegas goaltender Landon Kells to get Colorado on the board.

Evening the game at one per side, Desert Dog standout Jack Hannah ripped a fierce bouncing bid from long range, beating Mammoth goaltender Nate Faccin (who made his NLL debut Saturday night). Doubling down just over a minute later, he had his home crowd supporters cheering early and often.

Storming the crease and tucking a far side bid around Faccin, Desert Dog finisher Charlie Bertrand made it three in a row for the black and white squad as the first quarter raged on.

CK40 stepped high over a pick and seal before launching a heavy bid into the back of the net, now 3-2, as the opening quarter approached its end.

The Jawline, Tyson Gibson, worked his way from the outside in and sent an awkward, yet successful, shot on net, finding twine for the first time Saturday night.

Just 49 seconds later, Kelly found some top ched by pulling up and around a pick and chose his spot, quickly converting it and giving Colorado a lead early in the second period.

Completing his hat trick a mere 70 seconds later via the two-man game, slipping into the backside of the set, he finished the quick stick play by accepting Gibson’s pass and slamming it home, now 5-3 in Colorado’s favor.

In retaliation fashion, Las Vegas runner Tor Reinholdt finished off an odd-man play in transition to bring the home team back within one just 21 seconds later, his first in a Desert Dog uniform.

As the score-forward contest continued, Dylan Watson tied the game up at fives with a long-range bid. But the back-and-forth affair continues, as Gibson collected a weird rebound and placed the white rubber particle into the black netting surface en route to putting his team back on top, 6-5. If you like goals, this second quarter provided!

Casey Jackson went on to even the game at 6-6 midway through the eventful session as the former Western Conference rivals put on a show inside Michelob ULTRA Arena.

Recording his first with a Las Vegas jersey on, Thomas Vaesen beat Faccin with 7:08 to play in the first half on his way to giving his team an 7-6 advantage as the intense battle continued.

With just over two minutes to play in the opening half, Mammoth defenseman Tyler Garrison took advantage of some allotted space in transition by firing a sick half-twister, all-effort bid, beating Kells and tying the game once again, this time at seven.

Which would remain the score when the final 30 minutes of play ended, as the teams returned to the locker room following the electric first half.

Taking advantage of a five-minute major called as McLaughlin took a rough shot up high, Gibson finished off some two-man action with the help of Kelly, picking up his second hat trick on the season.

Racking up his fourth conversion of the night, Kelly beat Kells far side and high, now the fourth time he’s managed four goals for Colorado in just 14 appearances. Following the effort up less than a minute later, lefty Jon Phillips scored against his former team, marking the first time he’s scored with Colorado this season. 10-7 now as the Mammoth enjoyed a four-goal run through the third quarter.

Halting the run and getting the home team back in the game, wearing their Marvel Super Hero ™ Night Spiderman Jersey, American talent Charlie Bertrand finished off an impressive effort to bring Las Vegas back within two midway through period three.

Two in a row for the Desert Dogs, Hannah completed a hat trick of his own from distance, galloping inside the restraining line and launching one past Tyler Carlson, who played the second half for Colorado, en route to making it a 10-9 game.

Desert Dog captain Rob Hellyer recorded the first tally of the final frame, provided some space and stepping into a nasty long-range effort, his 21st this season. The game was tied at 10 and the drama was REAL.

Hannah finished a sick behind-the-back attempt, beating Carlson, to give his team a lead with 10 minutes remaining. This was #SCTop10 worthy, and Las Vegas’ fourth-consecutive goal. Making it five in a row, Jackson made it a 12-10 game midway through the fourth as the home team was back up by two.

Getting the good guys back within one late in the game, Kelly notched a season-high fifth goal of the night at the end of a series of shots on goal from various Mammoth players. The scoreboard showed 12-11 with 44.5 seconds remaining.

Coming up one goal short, Colorado dropped the late-season contest, 12-11.

Winning 17-of-26 faceoffs on the night, Tim Edwards officially became the franchise’s all-time leader in franchise wins, passing longtime leader Jamie Hanford, who previously held the record at 1,301. Now up to 1,305, he’ll look to chase down his single-season record next weekend in Halifax.

Tyson Gibson paced Mammoth scorers with a season-high seven points (3g, 4a), while Connor Kelly (5g, 1a), Thomas Vela (0g, 3a), Eli McLaughlin (0g, 3a) rounded out secondary scoring efforts. Jon Phillips (1g, 1a), Tyler Garrison (1g, 0a) and Brett Craig each chipped in tallies.

In a team effort, Nate Faccin stopped 26-of-33 in the first half during his NLL debut before veteran Tyler Carlson took over in net, allowing just five goals on 24 attempts.

Defenseman Noah Lebar also made his 2023-24 debut after being activated to the Active Roster Saturday afternoon, with veteran Josh Sullivan likely missing the remainder of the season after suffering an injury Friday night during the team’s showdown with the Philadelphia Wings.

Colorado will now prepare to wrap up the 2023-24 campaign far east as the team travels to the Atlantic time zone in visiting the Halifax Thunderbirds Saturday, April 20 during the team’s finale. Bringing a 5-12 record into the season-culminating showdown, the team will look to end the season on a high note against Jake Withers, Warren Hill and company.

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