COLORADO MAMMOTH (9-8) VS. SAN DIEGO SEALS (13-4)
SAT APRIL 29 | PECHANGA ARENA
8 P.M. MT FACEOFF
ESPN 2 | ESPN+
After tying its season-best three-game win streak two weekends ago by picking up a big 15-14 win over the San Diego Seals and clinching a spot in the 2023 postseason, the Colorado Mammoth dropped a dramatic 12-11 overtime decision to the Saskatchewan Rush. Despite being eliminated from the playoff possibility for a second-straight season, Saskatchewan brought a sincere effort to Saturday’s showdown.
RELATED: Colorado Drops 12-11 Overtime Decision to Rush Saturday in Saskatchewan
Eventually holding a four-goal lead over the defending champions, the Rush were in competitive form as a whole, but didn’t have an answer for a swaggy Eli McLaughlin, who racked up a career-best seven goals (7g, 1a) en route to single-handedly getting the Mammoth back into the ball game. Tying the game at 11 a side with just 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, McLaughlin forced an overtime session, but with a fiery Robert Church staying hot in the extra session, picking up his fourth of the contest, the Rush earned yet another overtime win over the Mammoth.
Regardless of the result, Colorado brought a sound effort into the match, highlighted by another stellar performance by goaltender Dillon Ward, who stopped 37-of-49 against the veteran-led squad. McLaughlin’s eight points paced all Mammoth scorers, while Connor Robinson (1g, 5a), Tyson Gibson (1g, 4a), Zed Williams (1g, 3a) and Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) rounded out primary scoring efforts.
While a majority of the postseason picture is set, with San Diego, Calgary, Panther City and Colorado representing the four qualifiers from the West Conference, and Buffalo, Toronto and Rochester representing the established contenders in the East Conference, the Georgia Swarm and Halifax Thunderbirds will battle it out for the final spot during the otherwise mellow Week 22 slate. Technically, Colorado is able to advance to the No. 3 seed in the West with a win over San Diego Saturday, which would send the Mammoth back to Calgary for another Quarterfinals matchup with the Roughnecks. After defeating the black and gray squad last year during the first round, Colorado wouldn’t shy away from another duel north of the border. If the Mammoth aren’t able to close out the regular season with a victory, the defending champions will qualify as the fourth seed out West, staying in San Diego for what would be a third matchup against the Seals in four weeks. Regardless of where the cards fall, Mammoth fans can stay tuned for additional details and announcements regarding postseason seeding, potential ticket availability for West Conference Finals action back at Ball Arena and everything on the March to May.
As the team continues to get healthy with its eyes on the postseason, Ryan Lee was placed on the team’s Injured Reserve List prior to last weekend’s matchup with the Rush. Not to worry though, as Lee will be set to participate in the playoffs and is merely enjoying some rest after making a speedy recovery from a severe injury. In a corresponding move, the organization promoted forward Connor Watson to Active Roster from the Practice Player List. After taking a big hit up high two weeks ago against San Diego, defenseman Evan Downey was able to participate in last weekend’s contest and should be good to go again Saturday against the Seals. With playoff seeding and its Quarterfinals destination on the line, Colorado will look to capture the season series over San Diego Saturday as the 9-8 Mammoth look to get back to the same 10-8 record it assembled during last season’s championship campaign.
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.
Saturday’s matchup in sunny San Diego represents the third of three regular season matchups with the Seals and the first to be hosted inside Pechanga Arena. After winning a pair of postseason matchups within the western confines last season, Colorado will enter familiar territory for its 2022-23 finale. The regular season series tiebreaker is slated to begin at 8 p.m. MT and can be viewed on ESPN 2 and ESPN+.
Last Time They Played
The Colorado Mammoth secured a clutch 15-14 win over the San Diego Seals just a few weeks ago as the defending champs saluted its dedicated supporters with a thrilling victory on Fan Appreciation Night at Ball Arena. Evening the series at 1-1 and setting up Saturday’s showdown for the regular season series title, the scrappy duel saw a combined 60 penalty minutes as last year’s West Conference Finals contenders revisited the rowdy rivalry.
Often described as a game of runs, lacrosse fans witnessed 29 goals as two of the West’s top teams continued their storied rivalry inside the Loud House. Eventually holding a 7-3 advantage over the Mammoth in the opening 16 minutes, the Seals looked like the No. 1 seed they are. But, eventually allowing Colorado to string together a six-goal run, they suddenly found themselves down two just 21 seconds into the third. Colorado went on to enjoy a fruitful third quarter, building a four goal lead over San Diego at 13-9 at one point, but the Seals produced another wave of scoring.
Racking up five in a row, as the third period concluded and the final 15 began, Wes Berg was absolutely on fire, as he logged a hat trick in less than three minutes of play time, which pushed up to the sock trick mark just 81 seconds into the fourth. While the Seals activated their all-star, the Mammoth saw Eli McLaughlin step up for his own squad by ending the lengthy streak and later putting an exclamation mark on the contest via his game-winning goal with five minutes to play.
Ryan Lee paced Mammoth scoring efforts with eight points (1g, 7a), while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a) and Zed Williams (2g, 3a) each enjoyed five-plus-point nights. Connor Robinson logged another hat trick, amidst his four points (3g, 1a), with faceoff specialist Tim Edwards (0g, 3a) capturing 19-of-31 at the dot and contributing a career-high three assists. Defensemen John Lintz (1g, 1a), Josh Sullivan (1g, 1a) and Anthony Joaquim (1g, 0a) each got on the board, while Ty Thompson (2g, 0a) continued to show flashes and Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a) chipped in a clutch goal in a game where every conversion counted.
Leading the Way
After seeing Ryan Lee rack up a single-season franchise-high 119 points during the team’s dominant run last year, the Mammoth haven’t had as much of a presence ranking inside the Top 10 for any specific stat among NLL leaders, but with Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson and Zed Williams all having recorded 66 points or more, Colorado’s offensive unit has enjoyed a quality season of scoring. Most recently seeing Eli McLaughlin explode for eight points (7g, 1a) last weekend, the forward provided a heavy presence for the Mammoth on a night where he was seemingly unstoppable. Adding to his team-best 80 points (43g, 37a), McLaughlin continues to build on his career-best goal total while keeping his teammates involved with passes, picks and beyond. Proving to be a menace from range, crashing the crease and even recently as a dunking threat, McLaughlin has worked flawlessly with Connor Robinson (33g, 33a) and Zed Williams (34g, 32a). The pair of forwards, who have nearly identical 1:1 stat lines through their first 16 games logged, have taken turns stepping up for the team, but it’s when they’re all finding their groove that makes them a formidable threat to make another sustained run this season. Seeing Robinson (1g, 5a) and Williams (1g, 3a) take a backseat to the scorching hot McLaughlin against Saskatchewan, both of the forward are familiar with putting up big numbers against the Seals, as they both helped fuel the defending champions past the Seals last season in the West Conference Finals. Despite only appearing in six regular season games this season, All-Pro Ryan Lee ranks fourth in team scoring with 39 points (6g, 33a), while veteran forward Chris Wardle’s 29 points (7g, 22a) in 12 games played round out the Top 5 for the Mammoth.
Moving his way up the single-season franchise record books, now with 258 wins in 425 opportunities, faceoff specialist Tim Edwards has gotten the job done at the dot all season long. Bringing his 60.7% win rate into the season finale after securing 19-of-27 last weekend against the Rush, he continues to rank fourth in overall faceoffs secured and win percentage while chipping in 11 points (0g, 11a) and 133 loose balls. Defenseman Robert Hope remains atop the team’s loose ball rankings with 143, while defenseman Warren Jeffrey paces the caused turnover charge and penalty minute count with 16 and 32, respectively.
Consistency is Key
Scoring at least one goal in 14 of his 16 regular season appearances this year, Eli McLaughlin has been the walking definition of consistency. With at least three points in all 16 of his games played, No. 51 continues to collect career-bests in several categories, including an impressive seven-goal effort last weekend in Saskatchewan, a new career-high for the talented forward. Sitting at an even 80 points (43g, 37a) heading into Saturday’s matchup against the seals, he’ll need four points to surpass his career-best total of 83 points (38g, 45a), which he logged in 18 appearances during last year’s championship run. Having already beaten his season-best 38 goals, now with 43, he’s a confident candidate to find twine against the Seals this weekend, especially after logging the game-winning-goal against the rivals just two weeks ago, as the B.C. native has now surpassed the 30-goal mark for the third time, with a pair of 29-goal efforts in 2017 and 2018 just short of the coveted mark. Averaging 4.44 points per-game, he’s proven his ability to click with a variety of personnel on both sides of the floor. Once he gets going, it’s hard to stop the Liger, and with a shot at the No. 3 seed on the line this weekend inside Pechanga Arena, he 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), (3g, 5a), (4g, 1a), (3g, 3a), (7g, 1a) = 80 points (43g, 37a)
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), (3g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (1g, 3a) = 66 points (34g, 32a)
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), (1g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 5a) = 66 points (33g, 33a)
Ryan Lee (2g, 8a), (0g, 6a), (0g, 7a), (2g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 7a) = 39 points (6g, 33a)
Tyson Gibson (0g, 2a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 0a), (0g, 2a), (2g, 0a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 4a) = 21 points (7g, 14a)
Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (0g, 2a) = 17 points (7g, 10a)
Get in the Game
Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s game against the Seals can be viewed on ESPN 2 and 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.