The Colorado Mammoth suffered a 20-14 loss Friday evening at Ball Arena as Panther City Lacrosse Club captured its third-consecutive victory. Despite carrying a 5-1 lead into the second quarter, Colorado allowed the first-year squad to outscore them 19-11 during the final 45 minutes as Panther City’s youthful core rose to the come-from-behind occasion.
Eli McLaughlin posted a team-high seven points (3g, 4a) Friday, as Ryan Lee (3g, 2a) and Connor Robinson also logged hat-trick efforts. Zed Williams (2g, 4a), Tyler Digby (0g, 4a) and Chris Wardle (1g, 2a) rounded out the scoring efforts for Colorado. Defenseman Erik Turner recorded a career-high three points (1g, 2a) in the contest, including his first NLL goal. Newcomer Alex Woodall won 18-of-38 faceoffs for the Mammoth, as Dillon Ward and Tyler Carlson split time in net, recording 20 and 11 saves each, respectively.
In his first game with the Mammoth, Alex Woodall was awarded his first faceoff Friday night, as Panther City draw man Jeremy Thompson was eager to get the contest started and was called for an early start. Thompson was later penalized for some checking in the crease action two minutes into the contest, but Colorado wasn’t able to capitalize on the early extra-man opportunity.
Robert Hope was sent to the box five minutes into the opening quarter for a holding penalty, which eventually led to a shorthanded tally courtesy of a diving Zed Williams effort. After Eli McLaughlin established position on his defender, he connected with a streaking Williams, who faked twice and eventually converted past Lacrosse Club goaltender Nick Damude’s right side to give Colorado its first lead of the evening.
As soon as the penalty expired, rookie forward Patrick Dodds sent a quick, unexpected bid on net, which bounced past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward to tie the game.
With six minutes remaining in the first, Eli McLaughlin quickly began the possession, faked his defender left and peeled right around him before diving across Damude’s crease and re-establishing an early Mammoth lead.
Ryan Lee reminded fans of his Most Valuable Player campaign two minutes later, as the RIT product sent a fierce step-down shot from the point to record his 24th of the year.
Wardle fired a desperate shot from the left as the possession drew to a close, which made contact with Damude’s padding before trickling over the goal line to give Colorado a 4-1 lead in the final minute of the opening period.
But Colorado wasn’t done scoring, as defenseman Jordan Gilles registered the team’s second shorthanded tally of the night by finishing a wicked two-on-one opportunity with under seven seconds to play.
Dodds picked up his second of the evening thirty seconds into the second period via the power-play, as defenseman Warren Jeffrey was called for a five-minute cross-checking penalty at the end of the first. Panther City’s Dean Fairall capitalized three minutes later via the power-play to bring the club back within two before the rookie recorded his second-consecutive and the Club’s third-straight conversion by landing a bouncer past ward at the 9:45 mark of the second.
Ryan Lee earned it back during the Mammoth’s next possession, as the forward rolled around his screen and fired a patented Leezer Lazer™ past Damude to stop the expansion team’s run 23 seconds later.
Panther City created a one-goal game with eight minutes to play in the second and went on to tie the match at sixes, as forward Cam Milligan created some space and converted past Ward two minutes later.
Courtesy of spectacular vision and precise passing, the Mammoth offense ran a set play and executed it to perfection, with McLaughlin finishing the set with his second marker of the night with five minutes to play in the half.
Mammoth forward Connor Robinson found his way around two picks and fired one past Damude before his respective defenseman was able to slide, restoring a two-goal game for Colorado. Rookie standout Patrick Dodds completed his first-half hat trick with three minutes remaining before logging his fourth of the evening at the 13:39 mark, via the power-play, to tie the game at eight entering the break.
Panther City forward Phil Caputo kicked off second-half scoring efforts by stepping around his defenseman and firing a side-armed bid past Ward to give his squad its first lead of the night. Another of the organization’s rookies, Nathan Grenon, quickly followed up the score with a goal of his own, giving Panther City a two-goal advantage early in the third period.
Williams and Lee went to work with the two-man game during the team’s next possession, as Williams set a quick pick for Lee and rolled, received a pass from Lee and converted a bouncing shot past Damude to create a 10-9 contest.
Fairall completed his hat trick Friday with a diving effort past Ward. Mammoth goaltender Tyler Carlson entered the contest following the score. Liam Byrnes added to the run with a goal 90 seconds later to give Panther City its first three-goal lead of the night.
C-Rob turned on clutch mode for the squad again, rolling off another screen on the left side and firing a heater past Damude at the halfway mark of the third, but Panther City’s youth continued to produce, as Fairall recorded his fourth of the evening to re-establish a three-score contest. Former Mammoth forward Will Malcom netted his first of the evening and 17th of the year with just over five minutes remaining in the third to continue the away team’s run.
Williams continued to create for his teammates, as the forward took the ball the length of the floor, snuck behind Damude’s crease and connected with defenseman Erik Turner, who logged his first career NLL goal.
Panther City recorded a shorthanded tally of its own with under three minutes to play in the third, giving the expansion team a 15-11 lead heading into the final quarter of play. The Lacrosse Club was awarded its 16th goal of the evening via a lucky strike from Will Malcom, which missed the net completely, hit the glass then bounced off Carlson’s back and into the net. Panther City recorded its third-consecutive marker as Dodds picked up his fifth of the evening as the benefactor of an extra pass and cashed in on the back side past Carlson.
Robinson finished off a late hat trick with less than nine minutes remaining, which represented the team’s first goal in nearly twelve minutes. Fairall joined the five-goal-scoring club Friday evening, as the forward sent another past Carlson with just under five minutes left to play.
Panther City netminder Damude scored Panther City’s 19th goal, an empty-netter, before a late McLaughlin tally, which qualified the forward for a hat trick of his own. The Lacrosse Club’s Josh Medeiros, you guessed it, another rookie, finished a breakaway opportunity by slipping one over the top of Carlson. Lee completed his hat-trick effort in the contest’s final 90 seconds to solidify a 20-14 final at Ball Arena Friday.
Patrick Dodds highlighted scoring efforts for Panther City, as the rookie recorded 11 points (5g, 6a), while teammate Dean Fairall ended the contest with seven (5g, 2a). Cam Milligan’s eight points (1g, 7a) also complemented the team, as goaltender Nick Damude stopped 37-of-51.
Through 10 contest contests, forward Ryan Lee continues to pace Colorado players with 65 points, 26 goals and 39 assists. Mammoth captain Robert Hope’s 17 caused turnovers and 90 loose balls both qualify as team-best totals.
Tickets to Colorado’s March 18 St. Patrick’s Day matchup against the Vancouver Warriors, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via ESPN+.