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Colorado Set to Visit Top-Ranked Albany FireWolves Saturday

COLORADO MAMMOTH (3-6) VS. ALBANY FIREWOLVES (6-2)
SAT. FEB. 17 | 5 P.M. MT | MVP ARENA
ALT TV | ESPN+

DENVER – With 18 regular season games comprising of each team’s 2023-24 NLL slate, Colorado’s 10th game of the slate will officially mark the turning of the page to the second half of the stretch, as the Mammoth bring a 3-6 record into MVP Arena Saturday night as they prepare to go head-to-head with the No. 1-ranked Albany FireWolves.

Finding themselves occupying the No. 13 spot, with the (2-5) Philadelphia Wings and (2-7) Vancouver Warriors marking the two teams sitting below Colorado, it was a disappointing 14-13 overtime decision against Panther City Lacrosse Club last weekend which moved the team to six losses on the season and now coming up short in two of three during the squad’s four-game road trip.

Despite spotting the home team an early 3-1 lead, the Mammoth came alive as the contest progressed, eventually trailing by two the at the half, 8-6. With Colorado scorers Eli McLaughlin and Connor Kelly securing the contest’s only third-quarter goals, the game was tied at 8 per side heading into the final 15 minutes of play. Seeing each team record five goals for their respective teams, Colorado entered its first overtime game of the season. But after allowing forward Jonathan Donville to score during Panther City’s opening possession, just 29 seconds in, the Mammoth dropped its second-consecutive showdown on the road.

While the win would’ve obviously been huge and much preferred to the actual result, it was still a good sign to see the Mammoth maintain its typical, resilient form. Led by captain Robert Hope and its established core of veteran players, Colorado has the right attitude and work ethics in place to turn this thing around in the second half. The team just seems to be on the wrong side of the odd bounce through a few of these opening contests, which is okay, because the boys have nine more showdowns to prove they’ve got what it takes to secure another postseason berth.

With the team scoring 13 goals last Friday, it tied the second-most the squad has produced in a game this season, with the team’s season-high total of 14 against the Calgary Roughnecks earlier this season edging out the effort by just one. It’s hard to score in this league with stellar goaltenders waiting around every corner. It’s even harder when the team is missing one of the top scoring threats in the game in Ryan Lee, too, but that’s no excuse for Kelly (4g, 4a), McLaughlin (2g, 3a), Zed Williams (3g, 2a) and company, who insisted on still putting on a show.

Each of the past few seasons around the NLL have been filled with dramatic, yet electric, showdowns. All of which, of course, boils down to the final eight teams who battle it out in epic postseason fashion. It’s been a tight pack 1 to 15 for the past few years now, and with the league embracing its inaugural season of Unified Standings action, wins are as hard to secure as they’ve ever been while the competition continues to require the thinnest of margins. While it seems like the league has been stuck below six wins for quite some time now, it’s still very much the (6-2) Albany FireWolves, (6-2) Toronto Rock and (6-3) San Diego Seals who have the best current odds of making their way into the postseason picture. But with each of the three squads currently on losing streaks, albeit just one, two and two-game stretches, respectfully, none of the three are standing out as elite contenders as things sit this week.

Dropping down a tier in perceived rankings while working our way down the league standings, both the (5-3) Buffalo Bandits and (5-3) Halifax Thunderbirds find themselves ranked in the Top 5 over the (6-4) Georgia Swarm, who indeed have six wins, but they’ve also played in more games than each of Albany, Toronto and San Diego. With the (5-4) New York Riptide riding an insane four-game win streak after starting the season 0-5, the teal and orange squad sits in the No. 7 spot as the final team sitting above .500 midway through the season.

These seven teams have the best chances of making the dance, combining their record and overall sentiment. But it’s teams like (4-4) Panther City Lacrosse Club, (3-4) the Saskatchewan Rush and (3-5) Calgary Roughnecks who not only find themselves on respective win streaks of their own, but seem to be taking advantage of some midseason momentum as they worked their way out the slow start. Sitting alongside Calgary and Saskatchewan in the three-win club: Each of the (3-5) Las Vegas Desert Dogs, (3-5) Rochester Knighthawks and the (3-6) Colorado Mammoth, who have already completed one or two more games than each of the three-win squads ranked above them. Long story short, Colorado has quite the road to travel if the team hopes to turn it around. But with All-World goaltender Dillon Ward in net, anything is possible.

Set to return to Ball Arena Feb. 23 for the first time in 34 days for a showdown with the trending (5-4) New York Riptide, the Mammoth will first have to endure a matchup against the (6-2) Albany FireWolves Saturday night as the team heads east.

Representing the fourth of five Week 12 games and the second of two contests scheduled for Saturday night, with Colorado and Albany sharing the slate spotlight with both the Halifax Thunderbirds and Calgary Roughnecks, the two competitive squads will battle it out for 60 minutes to see which team will snap its two-game skid.

Saturday night’s showdown against Albany is set to begin at 5 p.m. MT inside MVP Arena, thus representing Colorado’s sixth away contest of the season and fourth-straight on the road, now 1-2 during the four-game break from competing inside Ball Arena. Fans can catch the team’s 10th showdown of the year via Altitude TV, stream the matchup live on ESPN+ and stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for game highlights, postgame recaps and beyond!

Leading the Way

Forward Eli McLaughlin may have extended his team-leading 47 points (20g, 27a) by five on Friday night as he continues to shine for the Mammoth, but it was his co-worker in Connor Kelly who surpassed the talented B.C. native for the squad’s best goal-scoring total. Now up to 21 tallies on the season after recording a game-high four goals last weekend, he’s technically on pace for what could be a career-high pace, which is totally possible after the forward logged a professional-best 35 last season with the very team he and Colorado are preparing to face on Saturday. Averaging four points per-game and an encouraging 2.62 goals-per game, having missed one early-season contest due to personal reasons, there’s no doubt he’s been one of the most consistent scorers for Colorado. Officially atop the goal-scoring charts and joining McLaughlin as the first pair of teammates to meet the 20-goal mark this season, he’ll look to expand on his efforts inside his old home in MVP Arena and joins the following players in leading the charge so far, including:

Points: 47 (Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 21 (Connor Kelly)

Assists: 27 (Eli McLaughlin)

Loose Balls: 63 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 15 (Robert Hope)

Penalty Minutes: 27 (Paul Dawson, Jordan Gilles)

Blocked Shots: 14 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 130 (Tim Edwards)

Consistency is Key

Since the team acquired the talented forward three years ago, Mammoth forward Zed Williams has been just as much of a threat with the ball in his stick as he is when he’s banging bodies and creating space for his teammates. Often finding himself at a 1:1 scoring ration, he again met the mark at the midway point of this season, now with 24 points (12g, 12a) after producing his first hat trick of the year last weekend en route to earning his campaign-best five points (3g, 2a). Now with goals in seven of the eight games he’s participated in, with the team’s season-opener against his former Georgia Swarm marking the lone contest where he hasn’t found twine at least once, the physical forward has managed two goals in four of the seven, including the organization’s overtime loss in Week 11. Up to 12 goals on the season, he ranks third amongst Mammoth contributors in markers while sitting fifth in overall scoring and joins the following players in continuing to appear on the scoresheet, including:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (3g, 3a), (2g, 4a), (5g, 5a), (0g, 3a), (2g, 3a) = 47 points (20g, 27a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 6a), (1g, 4a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 4a) = 34 points (10g, 24a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (4g, 0a), (1g, 1a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 4a) = 32 points (21g, 11a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a), (1g, 0a), (2g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a) = 28 points (10g, 18a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 0a), (3g, 2a) = 24 points (12g, 12a)

Evan Downey: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

From Cats to Wolves

When the Mammoth and FireWolves do battle Saturday night inside MVP Arena, it will mark the first time the two franchises will meet, with Albany enjoying just its second NLL season of play during its current branding scheme. Starting the season as the league’s hottest squad, the FireWolves got out to a shocking 6-0 start before dropping its past two games to a pair of Joe Tsai-owned squads in the San Diego Seals and Las Vegas Desert Dogs. With early season wins coming against Las Vegas, the Buffalo Bandits, Philadelphia Wings, Saskatchewan Rush, Halifax Thunderbirds and Georgia Swarm, the team has managed big victories over three teams who currently sit within the playoff picture, but having played just two games since Jan. 20 (both losses) and set to return to action Saturday night following a week of bye rest, what version of the 6-2 team will show up to host the Mammoth as the burgundy boys prepare to go head-to-head with former teammate and NLL Champion Anthony Joaquim for first time since trading him to Albany earlier this season.

While there haven’t been too many rookie standouts this season, Albany forward Alex Simmons has certainly been the exception, as the first-year talent continues to pace his squad with 43 points (17g, 26a) in the first eight appearances of his career. Finding success alongside fellow youngsters in Ethan Walker (16g, 24a) and Travis Longboat (11g, 19a), the trio of producers have led the way for the FireWolves so far, albeit receiving quality contributions from Tye Kurtz (9g, 19a), veteran Marshall Powless (7g, 14a) and former Mammoth player Sam Firth (7g, 14a) as the team hasn’t been afraid the share the load throughout the first half of the season.

Faceoff specialist Joe Nardella will look to give Colorado dot-man Tim Edwards a run for his money, though the battle is expected to be damn even as the circle experts come into the contest within five faceoff wins of each other (130 to 135, with Nardella in the lead). Expecting to see Doug Jamieson jump in net across the turf from Mammoth All-Pro Dillon Ward, the battle of burgundy and maroon squads could drastically swing the momentum of either team’s season!

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s Feb. 17 matchup against the Albany FireWolves can be viewed locally on Altitude TV 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 RUMBLE at the LOUD HOUSE matchup against the New York Riptide Feb. 23 at Ball Arena remain available! Featuring opportunities to interact with and receive autographs from the great D-Von Dudley (formerly of the WWE’s Dudley Boys), a postgame match featuring dozens of our friends from Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling and endless interactive fun, be sure to grab your tickets and GET READY TO RUMBLE!

 

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team