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Colorado Controls Its Destiny as Playoff Push Officially Begins Friday

COLORADO MAMMOTH (6-7) VS. LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (5-8)
FRI MARCH 31 | BALL ARENA
7 P.M. MT FACEOFF
ALT TV | ESPN+

Despite an electric comeback effort after being down as many as six goals early in the fourth quarter, the Mammoth dropped a 14-12 final during its last contest. After picking up a convincing win the previous weekend over the Buffalo Bandits, dropping the decision to a 3-10 Warriors squad, which wasn’t exactly part of the team’s plan for a postseason push, the team has now lost four of its last six games, but if anything, it’s motivated the organization from top to bottom with five games remaining.

Forwards Zed Williams (4g, 3a) and Connor Robinson (4g, 3a) each recorded four goals, while Ryan Lee stepped back into his floor-operating role with seven helpers (0g, 7a) Saturday night. Eli McLaughlin (2g, 1a) picked up three points in the loss, with Tyson Gibson and captain Robert Hope providing a goal each.

RELATED: Colorado Falls to Vancouver 14-12 Despite Valiant Comeback Effort

Colorado remains in fourth place of the competitive West Conference despite dropping the matchup, as the Saskatchewan Rush (5-8) and Panther City Lacrosse Club (8-6) both lost last weekend as well. However, this weekend’s opponent, the Las Vegas Desert Dogs, picked up a 12-7 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks (9-5), and are now positioned in fifth place, just one spot behind the Mammoth. Las Vegas would likely need to win four or five out of its last five games of the 2022-23 season to qualify for playoffs, but it’s far from impossible, so fans can expect the first-year franchise to show up with a quality effort. Likewise for the home team, especially after the new kids on the block posted a 13-8 win over the defending NLL Champions the first time the squads met, Feb. 4 in Sin City.

Colorado was forced to move defenseman John Lintz to the Injured Reserve List ahead of last weekend’s contest against the Warriors. In a corresponding move, the organization activated recently signed defenseman Tyler Garrison to the Active Roster, but he served as a healthy scratch in his first game on the team. After acquiring defenseman Garrett McIntosh from the Desert Dogs prior to the NLL’s March 15 Trade Deadline, the big-bodied back-ender made his debut with his new squad, logging one point (0g, 1a), two loose balls and 1 caused turnover.

Mammoth fans can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com, the team’s social media channels and NLL.com’s transaction page for the team’s latest transactions, news and beyond heading into this weekend’s contest against the Warriors.

Friday’s matchup at the Loud House represents the second of two regular season matchups against the Desert Dogs and the only to be hosted inside Ball Arena. The spicy West Conference showdown is slated to begin at 7 p.m. MT and can be viewed locally on Altitude TV and nationally via ESPN+.

Last Time They Played

In the first of many matchups between the two mountainous rivals, the Las Vegas Desert Dogs secured the win, posting a 13-8 final over the defending NLL Champs inside Michelob ULTRA Arena. With Colorado coming off a victory over the Georgia Swarm the previous night at the Loud House, Las Vegas had the upper hand and fresh legs heading into the contest, flashing them early with a pair of goals in the opening two and half minutes of play. Eventually taking a 6-3 advantage into halftime, the Desert Dogs outscored the Mammoth 4-2 in the third quarter and eventually held off Colorado throughout the fourth, solidifying the franchise’s first win at home.

Connor Robinson paced Mammoth scorers with five points (1g, 4a), while Rhys Duch (1g, 3a) and Chris Wardle (2g, 2a) each recorded four in the loss. Eli McLaughlin (2g, 1a) and Zed Williams (2g, 1a) each notched a pair of tallies as netminder Dillon Ward stopped 40-of-53 on the night.

Jack Hannah’s eight points (6g, 2a), fueled by his first-ever sock trick, paced all scorers in the game, while Zack Greer (2g, 4a), Rob Hellyer (2g, 3a) and Jon Phillips (1g, 4a) all enjoying productive nights for the Desert Dogs. Goaltender Landon Kells stopped 41-of-49 in the win.

Leading the Way

As the Mammoth have now completed its first 13 games of the 2022-23 NLL campaign, forward Eli McLaughlin continues to set the scoring pace for the veteran-led squad. With 53 points (26g, 27a) in 12 games played, McLaughlin has showcased his ability to do it all. Most recently ending the team’s fruitful first quarter in Vancouver with an epic diving conversion with less than a second to play, he’s not afraid of mixing it up in the transition game by any means, but has logged most of his production working alongside fellow B.C. boy Connor Robinson as the leaders of the lefties. Robinson’s team-high 27 goals amidst his 49 points (27g, 22a) have been key for Colorado’s up-and-down offense as of late, while Zed Williams’ 48 points (26g, 22a) are good for third-most on the team. Chris Wardle continues to be one of the best body-bangers in the game, always creating space for his talented teammates while chipping in 26 points (6g, 20a) in 11 games. Immediately returning to his All-Pro status after missing the first half of the season recovering from injury, forward Ryan Lee has recorded 23 points (2g, 21a) in three games this season, rounding out the top five scorers for Colorado so far.

Tim Edwards has been one of the brightest spots of Colorado’s season so far as he continues to get the job done in the circle. After winning 17-of-29 opportunities last weekend against Vancouver, he’s now secured 190-of-323 draws on the season (58.8%), the fifth-most among all NLL players. Captain Robert Hope’s 110 lose balls continue to set the pace for Colorado, while fellow defenseman Warren Jeffrey leads the way with 14 caused turnovers.

Consistency is Key

Connor Robinson has shown up in all 12 of the games he’s participated in, but when the talented lefty is hot, he stands out on the scoresheet, including last weekend’s seven-point (4g, 3a) performance against the Warriors. While the overall result wasn’t what the team was looking for, seeing Robinson and Zed Williams both able to be firing on all cylinders on the same night may have provided an encouraging and welcomed spark as the team heads into its postseason push via the NLL’s March to May. The elite offensive effort represented Robinson’s fourth four-plus goal game and fifth hat trick of the season. Having scored in 10 of the 12 games in which he’s played, odds are he’ll keep his point streak going Friday, and joins the following Mammoth players to record at least one point in each contest played this season, including:

Eli McLaughlin (0g, 5a), (4g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (1g, 3a) (3g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (2g, 1a), (4g, 2a), (3g, 1a), (0g, 3a), (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a) = 53 points (26g, 27a)

Connor Robinson (1g, 0a), (0g, 1a), (5g, 1a), (4g, 1a), (2g, 2a), (4g, 3a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 3a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a) = 49 points (27g, 22a)

Zed Williams (2g, 0a), (3g, 5a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (4g, 3a) = 48 points (26g, 2a)

Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a) = 15 points (7g, 8a)

Ryan Lee (2g, 8a), (0g, 6a), (0g, 7a) = 23 points (2g, 21a)

Tyson Gibson (0g, 2a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 0a) = 10 points (3g, 7a)

Garrett McIntosh (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

Mirage or Miracle?

After starting the season with some growing pains at 1-5, the organization picked up its second win in franchise history against the Mammoth, and have gone onto establish a 3-3 record since, now entering the weekend 5-8 overall. Regardless of where the team ends up, it’s been an impressive run from the squad, as the team attempts to stand out with one of the more productive first-year finishes among recent NLL clubs.

The Desert Dogs have been going as emerging star forward and former DU lacrosse product Jack Hannah goes, with the talented youngster recording six points (4g, 2a) during the team’s win last weekend over Rochester. After acquiring forward Rob Hellyer in a trade before the season began, the team captain has logged a team-best 73 points (19g, 54a), including nine points (2g, 7a) against the Knighthawks. Veteran forward Zack Greer has tallied 42 points (25g, 17a) in 12 games, while Charlie Bertrand (15g, 21a) and Jon Phillips (16g, 19a) round out the top five offensive leaders for Las Vegas heading into Friday’s matchup.

Looking to stay involved in the NLL’s developing playoff picture, the Shawn Williams-led contingency isn’t settling for anything less than a sincere effort as the franchise’s first season quickly concludes.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Friday’s game against Las Vegas can be viewed locally on Altitude TV and nationally on ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on coloradomammoth.com and the team’s social media channels for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2022-23 NLL season.

RELATED: Altitude Announces 2022-23 Colorado Mammoth Broadcast Schedule

Limited tickets for Colorado’s March 31 Grow The Game matchup against the Las Vegas Desert Dogs are available for purchase.

 

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