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Colorado Opens 2023-24 Campaign Against Georgia Swarm

COLORADO MAMMOTH (0-0) VS. GEORGIA SWARM (0-0)
SAT. DEC. 9 | 5:30 P.M. MT | GAS SOUTH ARENA
ALTITUDE TV 2 | ESPN+

With the NLL officially kicking off its 2023-24 campaign Dec. 2-3 during Faceoff Weekend, only 10 of the league’s 15 teams were in play, as the Mammoth joined the Buffalo Bandits, Georgia Swarm, San Diego Seals and Toronto Rock in enduring Week 1 byes. But when Saturday evening rolls around, Colorado is set to begin its season in Duluth, Georgia as the Georgia swarm host the Colorado Mammoth Dec. 9, with action beginning at 5:30 p.m. MT.

Saturday’s showdown inside Gas South Arena represents the first of two matchups against Georgia this season, with the teams meeting again Dec. 22 inside the LOUD HOUSE during Colorado’s LOUD HOUSE Home Opener.

With Week 2’s slate quickly approaching, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for lacrosse fans, as the world’s premier box lacrosse league continues with six matchups over two days of action-packed lacrosse Dec. 9-10.

Fans are of course encouraged to take in the thrilling Season Opener beside the best fans in lacrosse during the team’s first Watch Party of the season! Set to take place at Bender’s Bar & Grill in Westminster (10710 Westminster Blvd.), Watch Party attendees will have opportunities to win prizes throughout the night while taking in the game in an exciting, Mammoth-forward environment!

After capturing the 2022 NLL Championship over the Buffalo Bandits out east, the team once again punched its ticket to the best-of-three NLL Finals last season, but came up one game short, eventually dropping the series in Buffalo, 2-1. Returning a majority of its established veteran core, the Mammoth are setting its sights once again on a lengthy postseason run, with the ultimate goal of capturing its second NLL Championship in three seasons.

Across the turf awaits a Georgia Swarm squad which was arguably hailed as the league’s hottest team since the midway point of last season. Racking up seven wins during its final 10 games of the 2022-23 season, Georgia posted a 7-3 record while enjoying the ability to control its own postseason destiny. Eventually dropping contests to the Halifax Thunderbirds and Rochester Knighthawks during its final two matchups, they missed out on the playoffs to both mentioned teams, with Buffalo, Halifax, Rochester and Toronto representing the final East Conference set of playoff teams.

Speaking of changes, the league has adopted and enacted its new Unified Standings, meaning the East and West Conferences are no more. Instead, teams will be ranked No. 1 to 15 throughout the league’s 21-week schedule, with the top eight teams advancing to the 2023-24 NLL postseason.

Also new to the 2023-24 season, Colorado will play every other team at least once, while drawing a pair of matchups against the Buffalo Bandits, San Diego Seals, Vancouver Warriors and Georgia Swarm.

Last Time They Met

Primed to face off against the Swarm in each of its first two games of the season, the Mammoth most recently captured a 13-10 win over Georgia when the teams last met Feb. 3, 2023, inside Ball Arena.

Representing the first game in the team’s back-to-back, two-game weekend (later playing the Las Vegas Desert Dogs Feb. 4), the Mammoth wasted little time in getting the LOUD HOUSE roaring. Quickly establishing an early 2-0 lead less than four minutes into the game, Colorado saw the Swarm strike back but eventually took a 3-1 lead into the second quarter. Both offenses coming alive, the back-and-forth battle continued, with Swarm forward Lyle Thompson earning two-straight for his squad and Seth Oakes burying one with 30 seconds remaining in the half.

Down two, 7-5, coming out of the break, Georgia went on to tally three in a row en route to earning its first lead of the contest, but the Mammoth answered back with a minute to play in the period. By the time the fourth came around, it was time for Colorado to turn it up a notch. And that’s exactly what the squad did, outscoring the Swarm 5-2 throughout the final 15 minutes courtesy of five different goal-scorers.

Anchored by All-Pro goaltender Dillon Ward, who stopped 39-of-49 on the night, Colorado secured the win. Forwards Connor Robinson (4g, 3a), Rhys Duch (2g, 5a) and Chris Wardle (1g, 6a) paced the Mammoth with seven points each, while Eli McLaughlin added six points (2g, 4a) of his own. Zed Williams (1g, 2a) and Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) rounded out the multi-point club, while Brett McIntyre (1g, 0a) and Evan Downey (1g, 0a) each notched a goal. Andrew Kew led the way for Georgia via his eight-point (1g, 7a) performance, while Shayne Jackson (1g, 3a), Lyle Thompson (2g, 2a) and Bryan Cole (2g, 2a) rounded out the team’s top four stat lines.

Meet The Team

Featuring a variety of veterans, youngsters, rookies and even a few new faces, the Colorado Mammoth roster for the season is set following four weeks of training camp action. Set to enter the season with seven players on its Injured Reserve List, alongside goaltender Dillon Ward on the Physically Unable to Perform List, the team recently signed forward Jon Phillips and defenseman Jordan Stouros in order to bring 21 healthy players into the first showdown of the season.

With netminders Tyler Carlson and Nate Faccin beginning the year on the Active Roster, the Mammoth will look to lean on its physical defensive unit while knowing its offense has enough fire power to keep things afloat while the team trends toward healthier days.

Returning for Colorado’s O-unit, Zed Williams, Brett McIntyre, Eli McLaughlin, Dylan Kinnear, Tyson Gibson, Chris Wardle and Connor Robinson will again lead goal-scoring efforts, with newcomer Jon Phillips beginning the year on the Practice Player List. All-Pro forward Ryan Lee is expected to miss the entire campaign after being placed on the Season-Ending Injured Reserve List last month.

Rookie forward Ben McDonald, whom the organization selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 2023 NLL Entry Draft is set to make his NLL debut this weekend, while Connor Kelly, whom the team acquired from the Albany FireWolves during the offseason, has a chance to be activated from the Hold Out List and make his debut in burgundy and black.

RELATED: Colorado Mammoth Announces 2023-24 Roster

On the defensive end of the floor, Colorado has several of its key pieces returning to help Ward and company in net, but each of Noah Lebar, Josh Sullivan, Joey Cupido, Jalen Chaster, Evan Downey, Owen Down and Nate Wade will begin the campaign on the team’s Injured Reserve List.

Tim Edwards, Warren Jeffrey, Robert Hope, Jordan Gilles, Anthony Joaquim, Brett Draper, Tyler Garrison and Brett Craig represent back-enders set to begin the year on the Active Roster, with new guys in Jordan Stouros, veteran Paul Dawson and rookie Sean Kriwokon (selected by Colorado in the third round of the 2023 NLL Entry Draft, 43rd overall) expected to contribute right away.

Saturday Night’s Bad Guys

Saturday night’s Week 2 showdown inside Gas South Arena also represents the first contest of the year for the home team, as the Georgia Swarm will look to pick things up where they left them: on a spicy run throughout the second half of the 2022-23 season. Nearly capturing the final East Conference seed in last year’s NLL postseason, the team has plenty to build on and build around, starting with goaltender Brett Dobson.

Teammate to Dillon Ward within the Team Canada world and beyond, the young goaltender has continued to represent one of the world’s best outdoor netminders while his box lacrosse IQ improves season after season. Playing behind a healthy mix of experienced and youthful options within the team’s back-end unit, Dobson relinquished just 13 goals to Colorado when the teams last met, but saw his squad produce only 10.

As far as the blue, white and yellow goal-scorers go, a majority of the team’s offensive sets run through forward Lyle Thompson, who continues to be praised as one of the most talented men to play the game. A true warrior, Thompson has the skills, speed and next-level dodging skills that truly make him a threat at any place on the turf. Eventually tying teammate Andrew Kew (43g, 63) with a team-best 106 points (46g, 40a), including a team-best 46 goals, he recorded the fifth-most goals last season while tying for the eighth-most points amongst all NLL players.

2020 NLL MVP Shayne Jackson, who racked up a sound 93 points (33g, 60a), joins Brendan Bomberry (25g, 38a) and Bryan Cole (15g, 27a) as the team’s top 5 returning producers from last season.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s Dec. 9 Season Opener against the Georgia Swarm can be viewed on Altitude TV 2 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 LOUD HOUSE Home Opener against the Georgia Swarm Dec. 22 at Ball Arena remain.

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team