The Mammoth secured its third win of the season Friday during an entertaining evening of goal-scoring as Colorado earned an 18-15 victory over the Vancouver Warriors in comeback fashion. The Mammoth offense was firing on all cylinders, as all forwards in the lineup managed to score at least one goal.
Mammoth forward Ryan Lee paced the team by recording a personal-best 12 points (2g, 10a) in the win, while Connor Robinson (4g, 4a), Chris Wardle (2g, 4a) and Tyler Digby (2g, 3a) and Sam LeClair (3g, 1a) contributed productive performances for Colorado. Eli McLaughlin (3g, 4a) recorded his 150th career goal early in the contest, passing Gary Gait in the franchise record book to represent the fifth-most in Colorado’s history.
Goaltender Tyler Carlson entered the game at the 11:20 mark of the first after Dillon Ward and the defensive unit surrendered five goals in the game’s opening moments. The organization’s Teammate of the Year from the 2019-20 season came in clutch Friday, stopping 37-of-47 and providing a much-needed spark on the back end. After allowing two goals following the goaltender switch, Colorado surrendered a 7-0 lead within the opening five minutes of play as Vancouver converted on what seemed like every shot they took before an energetic crowd at rogers Arena.
“It was a tough start, but we kept our composure up front and guys were moving their feet,” Mammoth forward Ryan Lee shared in a postgame interview. “I think a bunch of my assists were finding guys wide open in the middle, so that’s just our guys working hard in there and us finding them, and it works for us.”
Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin recorded his 150th career marker to stop the seven-goal run with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter before Mammoth forward Dylan Kinnear made it a five-goal deficit by logging his first of the year.
Vancouver added two more tallies to end the first quarter with a 9-2 lead and quickly added to it, as Warriors’ forward Logan Schuss opened the second quarter with a goal one minute in.
If the first quarter belonged to the Warriors, then the second was awarded to the Mammoth, as the team outscored Vancouver 8-3 and positioned themselves for a much more manageable second half.
Chris Wardle got Colorado back on the scoreboard with his second goal of the year on Colorado’s next possession, creating a 10-3 match. After logging a hat trick in his NLL debut Dec. 17 against Panther City, rookie forward Sam LeClair recorded his fourth goal of the year less than a minute later.
Continuing the productive second quarter, McLaughlin tallied his second of the evening after receiving a pass directly outside the crease and converting past Vancouver netminder Alex Buque.
Riley Loewen notched a goal at the 6:48 mark to stop the bleeding for Vancouver, but four consecutive tallies from rookie Jalen Chaster (his first career goal), Connor Robison, Tyler Digby and Sam LeClair later, Colorado found themselves in a ball game. Despite allowing a Jordan McBride goal with a minute remaining in the half, Colorado got the last word, as LeClair ended the half with a stellar finish to cement the 12-10 breaktime score and give the rookie two hat tricks in two career NLL games.
Digby turned the clocks back to the youthful times of his Robert Morris days with an amazing dive across the crease to bring the Mammoth within one out of the half. After a rare seven minutes of scoreless action, Liger kept the momentum going in Colorado’s favor by completing his hat trick and tying the game. C-Rob found the back of the net with a laser from the point to give the Mammoth its first lead of the night a minute later.
Vancouver standout Mitch Jones restored the tie 10 seconds later, knotting the contest at 13s.
Mammoth forward Ryan Lee recorded his first of the night from the right side with three minutes left in the third as Colorado re-established its come-from-behind lead.
Robinson found his way to the score sheet again, as the Mammoth collected an offensive rebound and found a cutting Robinson, who quickly converted and completed a hat trick of his own. The B.C. native added his fourth of the night three minutes later to give Colorado its first three-goal lead. Robinson’s eight points represented a career-best performance.
Former Mammoth forward Kyle Killen stopped the rush for Vancouver, logging his fourth of the night at the 6:47 mark. As the result of a holding penalty on the Warriors moments later, Lee recorded his second on the night and 10th of the year to give the Mammoth a 17-14 lead.
Vancouver insisted on keeping the match close late into the fourth, as Loewen notched his second of the night with a diving effort to create a 17-15 game with five minutes to play. Wardle picked up his second of the night with 2:31 left on the clock and solidified an 18-15 final score.
Mitch Jones (2g, 7a) and Kyle Killen (4g, 3a) paced Vancouver’s offensive efforts, as the team was without the services of forward Keegan Bal, who was placed on the Covid Protocol List prior to the contest. Warriors’ faceoff specialist Tyrel Hamer-Jackson was credited with 29-of-37 opportunities on the evening.
Through four games, forward Ryan Lee paces all NLL players with 27 points (10g, 17a) and also leads the Mammoth in points, goals and assists. Colorado will now rest for two consecutive bye weeks before hosting the Vancouver Warriors Jan. 29 at Ball Arena.
“I think this was a huge win for us – I don’t think we’ve played our best yet in any game and can’t wait to get after it against these guys again next time we play.”
Tickets to Colorado’s Jan. 29 Beach Party against the Vancouver Warriors, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via ESPN+.