The Colorado Mammoth successfully defended its home turf as the organization recorded an 11-8 victory over the Buffalo Bandits in Game 2 of the NLL Finals at Ball Arena Saturday.
In a contest highlighted by the elite goaltending efforts from Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward, the netminder stopped 40-of-48 shots against, including several outstanding saves, en route being named the game’s first star. Forward Zed Williams paced Mammoth scorers with seven points (4g, 3a), while rookie Brett McIntyre followed up a career-best Game 1 effort with a new personal-best six points (2g, 4a) Saturday. Despite being rendered without the services of Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin, who was moved to the Injured Reserve List prior to the 6 p.m. MT face off, Colorado continued to split the offensive workload among the forward unit, as Connor Robinson (3g, 1a), Chris Wardle (0g, 4a), Tyson Gibson (1g, 3a) and Dylan Kinnear (1g, 3a) each contributed to scoresheet as well.
After the teams combined for one goal in the first quarter (Williams, 2:47), the teams came alive in the second quarter as the Loud House crowd quickly filled in. What began as another quality start for Colorado, with an early conversion from Robinson 78 seconds in was followed up by five-consecutive Bandits tallies, coming from Dhane Smith, Ian MacKay, Smith, Josh Byrne and Chris Cloutier. Eventually ending the run, Williams picked up his second of the night with three minutes to play in the half, but was followed by a pair of exchanging goals from Byrne and Robinson at the 14:10 and 14:58 marks, respectively, as Buffalo took a 6-4 lead into halftime: Familiar territory for the Mammoth.
Kicking these off again early into the period, Williams brought Colorado back within a goal 69 seconds into the third. What seemed like another goal-scoring frenzy brewing for the third after Cloutier and Robinson added rallies at the 1:28 and 3:33 marks transformed into a goaltending showcase, as the remaining 12-and-a-half third quarter minutes wouldn’t see a goal scored.
What seemed like the loudest quarter of play since, oh maybe 2006, the Loud House reminded fans around the league what an intense playing environment felt and sounded like, as Ball Arena was absolutely roaring with excitement and anticipation heading into the final 15 minutes of action. Another quick-hitting start, Kyle Buchanan netted an early market for the Bandits 46 seconds into the fourth, but that goal would represent Buffalo’s final conversion of the contest, thanks to the Mammoth’s elite defensive unit and the outstanding play of Dillon Ward.
Eventually closing the game out with a five-goal streak of their own, mirroring Buffalo’s from the second, scores from McInytre, Williams, Kinnear, Gibson and McIntyre from the 3:01 to 8:41 mark positioned the Mammoth ahead by three. Successfully defending home turf and its late three-goal lead, Colorado solidified an 11-8 final before one of its most engaged and energetic crowds in the organization’s history. The victory represents the fourth of five needed wins to capture the elusive NLL title and also the first postseason win for Colorado in Ball Arena since it’s 2006 championship season.
Then Mammoth will now head back to Buffalo Saturday, June 18 for Game 3. Faceoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT and can be streamed on ESPN+, with additional broadcast details to be shared soon.