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Colorado Looks to Complete Weekend Sweep Saturday in Las Vegas

COLORADO MAMMOTH (4-2) VS. LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (1-5)
SAT FEB 4 | MICHELOB ULTRA ARENA
8:30 P.M. MT FACEOFF
ALT 2 | ESPN+

After closing out its four-game homestand Friday night with a 13-10 victory over the Georgia Swarm and securing a 3-1 home record through its first four contests inside Ball Arena, Colorado is set to complete its only back-to-back of the season with an 8:30 p.m. MT showdown with the NLL’s 15th and most recent expansion squad, the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. Saturday’s matchup represents the first of two meetings between the organizations, and only to be hosted inside the Desert Dogs’ new home, Michelob ULTRA Arena inside the ever-prestigious Mandalay Bay. Colorado will be a bit sore and tired from Friday night’s matchup combined with a quick turnaround, as the team is set to spend less than 24 hours total in Sin City.

Despite starting the year with an uninspiring 1-5 record, the Desert Dogs have begun to find their stride lately, picking up their first win in organizational history Jan. 20 over the Vancouver Warriors and seeing drastic improvement from young guns in Jack Hannah, Charlie Bertrand and beyond, while veterans Rob Hellyer, Zack Greer and company continue to prove they’ve got what it takes to set the bar for the youngsters.

Through the Mammoth’s first six contests, forward Eli McLaughlin continues to pace Mammoth scorers with 29 points (12g, 17a) in his first six games, while veteran Rhys Duch (6g, 18a) and Connor Robinson (16g, 8a) have each racked up 24 points each. Robinson’s 16 goals, including four notched Friday during the team’s fourth victory of the year, represent a team-best, with forward Zed Williams’ 10, among his 17 points (10g, 7a) serve as second-most so far. Chris Wardle has recorded 13 points (2g, 9a) in four games, rounding out the team’s top 5 through the first third of the season. With the squad’s seventh battle of the season looming just 26 hours after beating Georgia, faceoff specialist Tim Edwards has secured 76-of-142 draw opportunities (53.5%) and leads the team with 51 loose balls, while fellow defenseman and team captain Robert Hope surpassed the 900 career loose ball mark Friday night in Denver.

Stepping into his third career NLL appearance, defenseman Evan Downey recorded his first professional goal, adding to his four points (1g, 3a) in three games after drawing into the lineup Friday night. After missing last weekend’s contest against San Diego, in which the team dropped a 13-9 final to the Seals, Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward returned to the lineup for Colorado, eventually recording his fourth win in five opportunities. While the team continues to trend toward full health with Ryan Lee and John Lintz remaining on the Injured Reserve List, the Desert Dogs are also dealing with a few injuries and suspension matters, but will look to steal a win from the defending champs Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Mammoth fans can stay tuned to the team’s social media channels and NLL.com’s transaction page for the team’s latest transactions, news and beyond heading into Saturday’s matchup against the Las Vegas Desert Dogs!

Saturday’s contest at Michelob ULTRA Arena is slated to begin at 8:30 p.m. MT and can be viewed locally on ALT 2 and nationally via ESPN+.

Goin’ Back-to-Back

While the doubleheader scenario certainly requires some physical conditioning and mental will to successfully endure, starting the weekend on a good note certainly helps the short trip west for the Mammoth. It’s 60 minutes of hard work either way, but to take care of business while closing out a homestand against a wiles team is exactly how the team wanted to execute Friday, and they did to a “T” as the Colorado offense found its stride.

RELATED: Mammoth Closes Homestand, Opens Back-to-Back with Win over Swarm

The Mammoth were able to capitalize early and often, earning a 3-1 lead through the first 15 before taking a 7-5 advantage into the second half. Eventually outscoring the Swarm 5-2 in the final quarter, Colorado captured a 13-10 victory over Georgia to improve to 4-2 overall and 3-1 within the Loud House.

Connor Robinson (4g, 2a), Rhys Duch (2g, 5a) and Chris Wardle (1g, 6a) each posted seven-point performances for the Mammoth Friday on a night where eight different players scored for Colorado. Eli McLaughlin contributed six points of his own (2g, 4a), while Zed Williams (1g, 2a), Brett McIntyre (1g, 0a), Evan Downey (1g, 0a) and Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) each recorded goal in the cross-conference showdown. After missing last weekend’s contest against San Diego, Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward recorded 39 saves on 49 shots on goal as Colorado registered more shots than its opponent for the first time of the year Friday (50.)

Paving the Way

While tonight’s matchup against the league’s latest expansion team may represent the first meeting between the two organizations, this won’t be the first time the Mammoth have played in Las Vegas. Helping to grow the game while laying foundational roots inside Sin City itself, Colorado battled one of its West Conference rivals, the San Diego Seals, in Las Vegas during the shortened 2019-20 NLL campaign.

Consistency is Key

Recording 29 points (12g, 17a) in his first six appearances of the season, Eli McLaughlin has been the definition of consistency for Colorado. Averaging 4.8 points per-game, along with 2 goals per-game, McLaughlin’s 29 points pace overall scoring for the Mammoth, while his 12 goals rank second to Robinson’s 16 markers. Showing up on the scoresheet in each of the six matchups thus far, the veteran continues to perform each game, having logged three points or more in each contest so far, complementing his two hat tricks in five games. Most recently delivering six points (2g, 4a) last night against Georgia, Colorado will be in good shape if McLaughlin, Wardle and Kinnear can continue to create space for Robinson while staying ready to convert themselves. After seeing a variety of players score Friday night, with increasing success in the two-man game, the following players have contributed at least one point in each of the contests they’ve participated in, including:

Eli McLaughlin (0g, 5a), (4g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (1g, 3a) (3g, 1a), (2g, 4a) = 29 points (12g, 17a)

Connor Robinson (1g, 0a), (0g, 1a), (5g, 1a), (4g, 1a), (2g, 2a), (4g, 3a) = 24 points (16g, 8a)

Rhys Duch (2g, 1a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 6a), (0g, 2a), (2g, 5a) = 24 points (6g, 18a)

Zed Williams (2g, 0a), (3g, 5a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 2a) = 17 points (10g, 6a)

Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 0a) = 13 points (5g, 8a)

Evan Downey (0g, 2a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 0a) = 4 points (1g, 3a)

Ty Thompson (2g, 0a) = 2 points (2g, 0a)

New Kids on the Block

It hasn’t been the flashiest start for the Desert Dogs, but after picking up its first-ever win a few weeks ago against Vancouver, the stars are starting to shine in the desert as the first-year club continues to get its ducks in a row. With former Mammoth offensive coordinator Shawn Williams now serving as head coach and general manager for the Desert Dogs, former Mammoth forward Jacob Ruest contributing for the squad and 2022 NLL Champions Erik Turner and Sam Firth still familiar with Colorado’s approach after being traded to Las Vegas following the NLL’s most recent Expansion Draft six months ago, the new kids on the block will be aiming to upset the defending champions, who bring a 4-2 record into the entertainment capital of the world.

Captain Rob Hellyer and DU product Jack Hannah have been providing plenty of entertainment for the Dogs so far, as the former Toronto Rock star’s 35 points (7g, 28a) easily represent the team’s top mark, while Hannah’s 20 points (10g, 10a) are good for second-most, while the youngster’s 10 goals rank third-best on the squad. Veteran Zack Greer (11g, 4a) has amassed one more goal than Hannah, but Ruest (7g, 12a), Charlie Bertrand (9g, 10a) and Jon Phillips (7g, 9a) have outscored Greer so far as the team’s core continues to build chemistry.

Las Vegas has used a variety of defensive personnel through the organization’s first six matchups, while continuing to juggle playing time between netminders Landon Kells and Joel Watson. Both enter the contest with little experience, but have continued to learn in the moment while the team continues to produce regularly on the offensive end. After seeing eight scorers get on the board last night against Georgia, the Desert Dogs will need to get a good game out of whoever is in net, as 2022 NLL Finals MVP Dillon Ward is expected to be in net for Colorado again Saturday.

Get in the Game

Mammoth road games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s game against Las Vegas can be viewed locally on ALT 2 and nationally 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 2022-23 NLL season.

RELATED: Altitude Announces 2022-23 Colorado Mammoth Broadcast Schedule

Limited tickets for Colorado’s Feb. 24 Military Appreciation Night matchup against Panther City Lacrosse Club are available for purchase.

 

 

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