The Colorado Mammoth overcame a seven-goal deficit Friday night to defeat the Vancouver Warriors 17-16 in overtime and complete its regular season series sweep against its northern rivals. After a quiet first half, forward Eli McLaughlin came roaring to life in the fourth quarter, recording four fourth-quarter goals and finishing the show off with an overtime winner, his fourth game-winning goal of the season, which rank tied for most among NLL players.
McLaughlin ended the affair with a team-high five goals among 11 points (5g, 6a) while offensive mastermind Ryan Lee recorded a season-best 13 points (1g, 12a) Friday. Connor Robinson (4g, 3a), Chris Wardle (3g, 3a) and Zed Williams (2g, 1a) helped fuel the second-half comeback as defenseman Joey Cupido (1g, 0a) and Jalen Chaster (1g, 0a) logged transition tallies for the club.
Complementary to the on-field action, the rowdy Loud House crowd managed to assemble the world’s longest cup snake, as the Ball Aluminum Cup Snake™ sprawled to life across 311 feet of Mammoth fans before being collected and recycled in celebration of World Recycling Day by Ball Arena and Ball Corp. volunteers.
A date with the Western Conference-leading San Diego Seals now looms Saturday, as the 8-2 squad prepares to host Colorado at Pechanga Arena.
Vancouver opened the scoring Friday night with a transition tally, as captain Brett Mydske received a pass and placed a quick shot top-shelf over Ward’s shoulder.
Keegan Bal earned Vancouver its first two-goal advantage of the night, as the forward dove across Colorado’s crease before tucking a bid around Ward’s far side. Bal followed it up with his second of the night 45 seconds/minutes later with a side-armed bid that bounced five-hole past Ward.
Zed Williams reminded the Loud House that there’s no play he’s afraid of attempting, after the forward entered the right side corner, secured the loose ball, rolled back to the crease and finished a swim move over his defender before flicking a light pass to teammate Ryan Lee, who finished the spectacular play with a diving effort.
Former Mammoth forward Kyle Killen completed the extra-pass effort with 90 seconds remaining in the first, as he slammed a backdoor bid behind Ward.
A minute later, Ryan Lee accepted a streaky pass as the forward speeded down field and put another diving shot on net before defenseman Jalen Chaster collected the rebound and converted over Buque’s left shoulder while falling to his left to solidify a 4-2 score to end the first.
Bal completed his first-half hat trick 18 seconds into the second quarter, as the forward created space and took advantage of it, finishing with another diving effort past Ward.
“Lightning” Joey Cupido got it right back for the Mammoth, as Ward made a save and immediately looked to the sky before connecting with a surging Cupido midfield, who finished the play by finding shorthanded twine at the 1:01 mark.
Warriors forward Logan Schuss converted an extra-man marker 32 seconds later to reinstate a three-goal lead for Vancouver. Bal logged his fourth of the half as Vancouver was getting set for a possession when the forward fired a wide bouncing shot that made its way past Ward to create a 7-3 contest. Owen Barker finished a one-on-one opportunity with another far side conversion to grant Vancouver its first five-goal lead of the night.
Mammoth forward Chris Wardle stopped the three-goal run with a tally of his own, as recently-acquired forward Tyson Gibson registered his point with Colorado by assisting.
Rookie defenseman Reid Bowering erased the effort 38 seconds later with another transition goal to give the Warriors a 9-4 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
Ball continued to put the Warriors on his back with another diving effort, his fifth of the night, which caused Tyler Carlson to enter the contest for Colorado’s second-consecutive game.
Connor Robinson logged a power-play goal with 41 seconds left in the half as the result of a holding penalty called on Brandon Goodwin to bring a 10-5 lead into the break.
Wardle opened up second-half scoring efforts for the Mammoth, as the forward faked left, established space from his defenseman and curled right to beat him before finishing a diving play to bring Colorado within four.
Bal finished his sock trick with nearly 25 minutes left in the game, as the forward logged a nasty behind-the-back goal past Carlson five minutes into the third. Killen added another goal with a similar BTB finish outside the crease less than a minute later to extend Vancouver’s lead.
Bowering logged his second of the evening before Williams logged the seventh of the game for Colorado at the 9:52 mark, his 10th of the year.
Warriors forward Riley Loewen got himself on the board after fading his defender and receiving a pass directly outside the crease before diving into Carlson and converting.
Loewen was called for a holding penalty shortly after, which lead to a Robinson extra-man tally, the forward’s second of the night. Wardle decided to keep firing in the third, recording his first hat-trick performance of the season with a five-hole bid past Buque.
Colorado forward Eli McLaughlin continued the Mammoth’s comeback effort with a pair of goals within 29 seconds of each other to get the Loud House roaring, the first a diving effort and the second a fierce overhand bouncer from the point to bring Colorado back within three.
After a set of high-effort checks and possession changes at midfield, Williams eventually collected the ball and took his defenseman to the net before falling and firing past Buque to create a 14-12 game. McLaughlin called heat check with seven to play as he received a pass, rolled around his pick and fired another step-down shot past Buque’s right shoulder to log a third-quarter hat trick and bring the Mammoth within one.
Robinson kept the hat-trick train churning late in the fourth, as the forward converted from the left side to tie the game before an energetic Loud House crowd. The magician continued his act with another trick 45 seconds later, chasing Buque from net and logging his fourth of the night while giving Colorado it’s eighth-consecutive goal and its first lead of the night.
Bal ended the bleeding for Vancouver by registering his seventh of the night on the Warriors’ next possession to restore the tie. The forward continued his standout performance by logging his eighth of the evening to give Vancouver a late 16-15 lead.
McLaughlin evened the game again with 54 seconds to play to force a dramatic overtime session. But he didn’t stop there, as the forward finished the streaky contest for the club by logging his fifth of the night to complete the epic comeback and series sweep
Through 11 contest contests, forward Ryan Lee continues to pace Colorado players with 78 points and 51 assists while teammate Connor Robinson paces the team with 27 goals. Mammoth captain Robert Hope’s 20 caused turnovers and 96 loose balls both qualify as team-best totals.
Tickets to Colorado’s April 2 Military Appreciation matchup against the Buffalo Bandits, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via ESPN+.