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Colorado Struggles, Drops Saturday Matchup to Desert Dogs

The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 13-8 final against the NLL’s latest expansion team Saturday, falling to 4-3 on the season. After picking up a 13-10 win Friday night against the Georgia Swarm, Colorado ran out of gas, but will get another chance to best a West Conference opponent next weekend as the team travels to face the Calgary Roughnecks Feb. 11.

Just over a minute into the opening quarter, Desert Dogs’ forward captain Rob Hellyer sent a quick pass to teammate Charlie Bertrand, who was positioned directly outside of the crease, and quickly sent a low bouncer past Ward’s left side to get the scoring started.

Doubling down a minute later, this time in transition, former DU lacrosse star Jack Hannah completed the turf-long play by slamming another past Ward as Colorado’s wear and tare from the night prior was on display early.

Eventually getting things going, forward Eli McLaughlin completed a bit of an isolation take, as the veteran instantly recognized the space he was being afforded, driving toward the middle and eventually tucking one past Las Vegas goaltender Landon Kells’ left shoulder, shrinking the lead to one.

Following a scoreless 10 minutes of play to close out the first quarter, Colorado drew a checking from behind penalty on former Mammoth player Jacob Ruest, which quickly lead to a second McLaughlin tally. This time, the boys executed a few passes before #51 sent a fierce shot on net from the top of the key, again beating Kells and tying the ballgame at two a side.

After Rhys Duch and Mike Burke were forced to defend a transition opportunity, they eventually got stuck on the field for the defensive set, and quickly surrendered a quick stick goal, as Hannah got back on the board, recapturing the lead for Las Vegas.

Midway through the second, Colorado again tied the game, as Duch rolled high on a pick and dished a light pass to a waiting Wardle, who fired a hot shot on net, creating a 3-3 game.

Enjoying the Dog House home field advantage and not shying away from their tired opponents, the Desert Dogs closed the second quarter out with three-straight goals. The first came from Connor Kirst on a transition run, just eight seconds after Wardle’s contribution. The second, less than a minute later, as veteran Zack Greer got in on the action less than a minute later, earning some space on the switch. The scoring barrage concluded with three minutes in the half, when Hannah completed his first half hat trick from the right side after Hellyer collected an offensive rebound and got his team another shot to double up the 2022 NLL Champions heading into the half.

Wardle attempted to recapture the momentum for Colorado with his second goal of the night, coming two minutes into the third quarter, as Duch noticed him unguarded behind the net. Wardle accepted the fierce pass and instantly dunked the ball over Kells’ left shoulder to bring the Mammoth back within two.

But, the Desert Dogs would answer with a pair of tallies themselves, with the first coming from John Phillips and the second two minutes later from Hannah, his fourth of the contest.

Zed Williams eventually recorded his 11th marker of the season 90 seconds later, a simple strike from the right side, after Connor Robinson sent him a quick pass from the left, which he buried.

But again, the Desert Dogs responded with another pair of goals, the first three minutes later from Hellyer and the second from Greer, his second of the night, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Las Vegas went on to take a 10-5 advantage to the final 15 as Colorado was visibly exhausted.

That wouldn’t stop the Pat Coyle-coached squad from giving it their all though. Williams began the attempted comeback effort for Colorado, sneaking his 12th of the year past Kells via the power-play set after seeing Nick Ellerton earn two minutes in the box for cross checking.

Robinson got in on the scoring action three minutes later, bringing the Mammoth back within three after setting a pick for Dylan Kinnear and fading away to the weak side, unnoticed to the defense. Taking a quick pass from Burke on the opposite side, Robinson quickly dialed up a shot and beat the netminder.

Regularly displaying its resilience and ability to retaliate on the scoreboard, the Desert Dogs went on to log the next three, with Hellyer earning his second of the night midway through the fourth, only to be followed by a fifth and sixth goal of the evening from Hannah, who earned his first career sock trick.

Duch eventually converted on a penalty shot opportunity for Colorado with 24 seconds remaining, but it was far from enough to complete the comeback, as the Mammoth dropped the West Conference matchup 13-8 in Las Vegas. After struggling against the league’s newest expansion team Panther City Lacrosse Club last year, dropping the season series, Colorado will circle its March 31 rematch against the Desert Dogs inside Ball Arena, the only other regular season matchup scheduled between the two familiar organizations this year.

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 Dillon Ward stopped 40-of-53 on the night.

Colorado will next head to Calgary for a Feb. 11 matchup against the Roughnecks as the team looks to stay in the top half of the West Conference standings.

Be sure to stay tuned to and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for the latest team updates, transactions, fan events and beyond as the 2022-23 NLL campaign rages on!

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