Colorado captured its second win of the season during an 8-7 victory over Panther City Lacrosse Club Friday night. The contest, which represented the Lacrosse Club’s third overall contest and first matchup against Colorado, also served as the Mammoth’s 300th contest as an organization. Mammoth netminder Dillon Ward stopped 55-of-62 as Ryan Lee (2g, 3a), Eli McLaughlin (1g, 3a) and Sam LeClair (3g, 0a) highlighted scoring efforts for Colorado.
Panther City’s Liam Patten opened the contest’s scoring five minutes in by converting a breakaway effort past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward. In his first game of the season, Taite Cattoni logged the next marker of the game 26 seconds into the second period to establish Panther City’s first two-goal lead of the evening.
The defenseman, Patten, recorded his second of the game with an unassisted tally five minutes into the second.
Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin got Colorado on the board during the team’s next possession with a laser past Panther City netminder Kevin Orleman less than a minute later.
Ryan Lee made it a 3-2 game after watching McLaughlin work, receiving a pass after rolling off a pick and finishing a diving effort to make it a one-goal lead for the Lacrosse Club. Despite several close opportunities for both teams, the first half concluded with a 3-2 count.
Panther City opened the second half with a goal, courtesy of a Mike Triolo shot from the top of the point as the shot clock expired to establish a 4-2 contest.
Mammoth assistant captain Tyler Digby threw a fierce shot at Orelman less than a minute later, which braised the goaltender, bounced behind him and into the net to minimize Panther City’s lead back to one. Colorado tied the game after Zed Williams body-checked a Lacrosse Club defenseman, caused a turnover and found a surging Sam LeClair, who logged the first of his NLL career.
Lee found himself as the recipient of a breakaway pass 90 seconds later and buried his seventh of the year to give Colorado its first lead of the night on the team’s third unanswered goal.
Panther City forward Phil Caputo evened the game for Panther City with less than four minutes to play in the third after converting past Ward’s right side.
LeClair recorded his second of the season and evening working isolation on the right side, and after fielding a dish from Lee, spun around his defender and cemented another one-tally lead for the Mammoth.
Caputo logged his second of the night in the final session’s opening minute to tie the game again.
Colorado picked up its league-best fourth shorthanded goal just over five minutes into the final quarter after Williams sent a quick, low-angled shot soaring past Orleman to give Colorado yet another lead.
Colorado rookie forward LeClair completed a hat-trick in his first NLL game after collecting a rebound from a teammate’s shot, faked Orleman twice and buried his third of the game with just under six minutes to play.
“I was definitely nervous, but all of the older guys made me feel comfortable and helped calm me down before the game, Mammoth forward Sam LeClair shared in a postgame interview. “I knew I was going to get the call eventually, balls were falling and the older guys just told me to keep shooting, so I did.”
Panther City forward Dawson Theede tallied his third of the year with 12 seconds to play to solidify an 8-7 final score.
Through three games, forward Ryan Lee leads the Mammoth in points (15) and goals (8), while Eli McLaughlin paces the team with eight assists. Colorado and the rest of the National Lacrosse League will pause for the holiday season and endure a bye week before teams return to play Dec. 30 and 31.
Tickets to Colorado’s Dec.31 New Year’s Eve Party against the New York Riptide, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via ESPN+.