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For All the Marbles: Mammoth Visits Seals for West Conference Showdown May 28

Colorado dropped a dramatic 11-10 overtime decision to the San Diego Seals last weekend at Ball Arena and will now head back to San Diego May 28 for a winner-takes-all matchup. With a trip to the NLL Finals on the line, which would mark Colorado’s first time back since 2006 or represent San Diego’s first overall Finals berth, Game 3 of the West Conference Finals will be hosted at Pechanga Arena Saturday: For all the marbles.

After picking up consecutive wins against the Seals for the first time in franchise history, the Mammoth came up one goal short in the extra period, as Dane Dobbie was able to secure Game 3 with a behind-the-back conversion two-and-a-half minutes into overtime. Despite logging six points (4g, 2a) Saturday and 13 overall (7g, 6a) so far in the series, Dobbie and teammate Austin Staats (1g, 4a) + (5g, 0a) have been the only two players to get going offensively for San Diego. Courtesy of Warren Jeffrey and company on the back-end, Wes Berg has been limited to eight points (1g, 7a) and just one goal in his two postseason appearances against Colorado this series. Random contributions from Zack Greer, Jeremy Noble and friends have occurred, but for the majority of opportunities, the Mammoth have been able to keep San Diego shooting outside, all to the tune of Colorado’s goaltender Dillon Ward.

Providing six of the ten Saturday-night markers, Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin registered his first postseason hat-trick at Ball Arena last weekend, as the B.C. native recorded seven points (6g, 1a). The veteran’s competitive start to the playoffs has him ranked first in goals (12), tied fourth in assists (9) and third in overall scoring with 21 points. Despite his roommate not scoring a goal Saturday, only the second time in 21 appearances with Colorado this year, Connor Robinson picked up three assists in Game 2 to remain tied for sixth-most points (15) through the first three weeks of the NLL postseason, while his nine goals continue rank second-most in the league.

Without the services of forward Ryan Lee, a variety of Mammoth players have stepped up in the offensive and transition areas of the game, as defensemen Jordan Gilles (2g, 3a) and Joey Cupido (3g, 1a) haven’t shied away from scoring opportunities this postseason. Zed Williams’ 11 points (6g, 5a) don’t necessarily represent how impactful the forward has been since losing Lee, as the big-bodied attacker often draws at least one-and-a-half to two (and literally, sometimes three) man coverage whenever he has the ball. Continuing to keep his head up and teammates involved, Williams has opened some space and created quality looks for fellow right-side threat in Tyson Gibson (2g, 7a) while keeping the lot of Mammoth talent involved on the left side as well, in Chris Wardle (1g, 9a), Dylan Kinnear (2g, 5a) and company.

Colorado’s Tim Edwards has continued to put in work at the dot, as the faceoff specialist has secured 32-of-55 draws in the series (58.1%), while his 63.4 win percentage throughout the postseason continues to rank highest of the three qualifying draw men remaining in the NLL postseason. Adding to his constantly-climbing faceoff win total, the defenseman collected nine loose balls last weekend and has scooped 22 throughout the postseason, trailing only captain Robert Hope for most on the squad.

Following up on an epic 18-17 overtime decision, in which Buffalo exited Game 1 of the East Conference Finals victoriously, the Bandits travelled to Hamilton, Ontario to visit the Toronto Rock Saturday for the ever-important Game 2 matchup. With faceoff taking place just hours before Colorado’s matchup, the two teams combined for five goals in the opening 30 minutes of play (BUF lead 3-2 at half) after NLL fans witnessed every bit of a barn-burner during the teams’ first postseason meeting. Eventually warming up, both of the squads went on to create some second-half entertainment, while goaltenders Nick Rose and Matt Vinc showcased their veteran poise in the defensive affair. With less than 10 seconds remaining, Toronto was able to gain possession and call a timeout, as the organization’s season came down to one last set play. In the final seconds of the competition, Toronto was able to get a quality shot on net from down low, but the ball passed the goal line less than a second after time expired, leaving a heartbroken Toronto Rock squad and its fanbase begging at the replay board as its season concluded. The Buffalo Bandits will now enjoy a week of rest and preparation before ultimately hosting the winner of Saturday’s contest in Banditland for the NLL Finals next weekend.

For a complete, updated listing of Conference Final matchups, Mammoth postseason information and beyond, be sure to check out our 2022 Colorado Mammoth Playoff Hub.

Saturday’s matchup at Pechanga Arena represents the third (and final) postseason matchup between the organizations, as well as the sixth overall meeting between the teams during the 2021-22 campaign and third to be hosted in San Diego. Mammoth fans will be able to watch this weekend’s matchup on ALT TV and stream live on ESPN+!

Looking Back:

The Mammoth dropped a tight 11-10 overtime battle to the San Diego Seals last weekend during Game 2 of the West Conference Finals. Despite receiving a hat-trick effort from Eli McLaughlin (6g, 1a) and quality defensive play from Dillon Ward and the back-end unit, the Seals were able to steal its first road win of the postseason with a behind-the-back overtime winner from Dane Dobbie to stay alive and force Game 3 back at Pechanga Arena.

A name which would be called quite a few times throughout Saturday evening rang the speakers of Ball Arena three minutes into the contest, as Eli McLaughlin got the Mammoth on the board first. A pair of Austin Staats tallies at the 4:26 and 6:25 (PP) granted San Diego an early lead, while Seals’ veteran Dane Dobbie extended the advantage with a strike 12 minutes in. Just as he began the quarter’s scoring, he ended it, this time with just over three minutes to play, as McLaughlin recorded his second of the night at the 12:12 mark.

After seeing just three combined individuals record goals in the first quarter, the second would see a combined two, as Dobbie and McLaughlin decided it was each their respective nights to shine. Dobbie got the second-quarter action started by finding twine at the 1:47 mark. Following a rare 10 minutes of scoreless play, Dobbie converted on another, creating a 5-2 game with less than four remaining in the half. McLaughlin, Colorado’s only player to score in the first half, ended the second with his third of the night, to bring the Mammoth back within two heading into the break.

Exiting the pause down a few goals, a pattern lately for Colorado in the postseason, the Mammoth came out firing and dominated the first half of the third, with Dylan Kinnear starting the charge less than two minutes in. Following up the strike with his first career NLL conversion, rookie forward Brett McIntyre ripped one past Seals’ goaltender Frank Scigliano to net the game at fives. Teammates Tyson Gibson (7:30) and Joey Cupido (8:31) granted and extended Colorado’s first lead since early in the game with a pair of tallies midway through the third quarter, but a pair of goals from Staats at the 9:20 and 12:44 marks brought a tied game into the fourth.

McLaughlin got right back to work, recording his fourth and fifth scores of the evening at the 2:56 (PP) and 6:12 marks, establishing another two-goal advantage for his squad. Zack Greer answered Mclaughlin’s second tally during San Diego’s next possession, before Staats picked up his fifth of the contest at the 8:14 point. Greer later earned the Seals the lead again via a strike with three minutes left to play, but McLaughlin continued the heroics by picking up an overtime-forcing sixth-goal effort. Dobbie eventually finished the contest in overtime to keep the Seals’ alive.

Eli McLaughlin highlighted scoring efforts for Colorado (6g, 1a) Saturday, while Tyson Gibson (1g, 2a), Dylan Kinnear (1g, 2a), Connor Robinson (0g, 3a) and rookie Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a) rounded out the stat sheet. Dillon Ward stopped 41-of-52 shots against in the overtime decision, while Frank Scigliano stopped 42-of-52. Austin Staats (5g, 0a), Dane Dobbie (4g, 2a), Jeremy Noble (0g, 5a) and Wes Berg (0g, 5a) combined to lead San Diego.

Showing Up to Work:

Continuing to storyboard solutions for the departure of Ryan Lee from the Active Roster, the Mammoth offense has received standout performances from several of its remaining elite contributors in Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson and beyond. The scrappy, physical execution in the trenches from the likes of Zed Williams and Dylan Kinnear has created quality looks for outside shooters, crease-lurkers and alike, as seven Mammoth players have contributed at least one point in all three postseason appearances so far, including:

Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (3g, 5a), (6g, 1a) = (12g, 9a)

Connor Robinson (5g, 1a), (4g, 2a), (0g, 3a) = (9g, 6a)

Zed Williams (1g, 2a), (5g, 1a), (0g, 2a) = (6g, 5a)

Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a), (0g, 4a), (1g, 2a) = (2g, 7a)

Chris Wardle (1g, 4a), (0g, 4a), (0g, 1a) = (1g, 9a)

Dylan Kinnear (0g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 2a) = (2g, 5a)

Joey Cupido (1g, 1a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a) = (3g, 1a)

Mammoth Postseason League-Leaders:

As the Mammoth squad continues to operate efficiently as units on both ends of the floor, Colorado has managed to score at least 10 goals in all three of its postseason appearances, while its 40 combined tallies through three games represent the most during the 2022 NLL playoffs so far. After picking up six goals last weekend against San Diego, forward Eli McLaughlin leads the league with 12 goals, while his 21 points (12g, 9a) rank third-best. McLaughlin joins teammates Connor Robinson, Robert Hope and company ranking among the NLL’s statistical leaders in several categories, including:

Goals: 12 (1st) Eli McLaughlin

Assists: 9 (T4th) Chris Wardle, Eli McLaughlin

Points: 21 (3rd) Eli McLaughlin

Points-Per-Game: 7 (3rd) Eli McLaughlin

Power-Play Goals: 2 (T1st) Eli McLaughlin

Game-Winning Goals: 2 (T1st) Zed Williams

Shots on Goal: 30 (T5th) Zed Williams, Connor Robinson

Loose Balls: 27 (3rd) Robert Hope

Caused Turnovers: 5 (T3rd) Robert Hope, Joey Cupido

Faceoff Wins: 52 (2nd – 1st among remaining players) Tim Edwards

Faceoff Win Percentage: 63.4% (3rd – 1st among remaining players) Tim Edwards

*All rankings updated through Game 2 of Conference Finals

 

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