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Mammoth Embrace Quick Turnaround, Prepare for Friday Night Battle Against Panther City


DENVER – With the official midway point of the season quickly approaching, with Colorado’s ninth of 18 games set to be played down south in Fort Worth, Texas against Panther City Lacrosse Club Friday night, the Mammoth find themselves with a 3-5 record after dropping a 16-7 contest to the San Diego Seals on Sunday afternoon.

Looking solid through a majority of the first quarter en route to racking up an early 3-0 lead, the Mammoth and Seals were suddenly tied when the opening quarter came to a close. Eventually outscored 13-3 throughout the remainder of the competition, including a stretch of nearly 38 scoreless minutes throughout the second, third and fourth quarters, Colorado will need to address the drought in a quick way, as the squad is preparing to participate in its second game in six days.

While it was a quiet game for Eli McLaughlin, held to just three points (0g, 3a) after exploding for 10 points (5g, 5a) the contest prior, it was Liger and Connor Kelly (3g, 0a) who paced Mammoth scorers last weekend inside Pechanga Arena. It’s always nice to see another hat-trick from Kelly, whom the organization acquired in the offseason in exchange for its 2023 NLL Entry Draft. But with Ward being chased from the game in lieu of backup goaltender Tyler Carlson once again, a seemingly common occurrence when Colorado matches up with San Diego during the regular season, the defense unable to come up with an answer last weekend and the offense appearing rather snoozy for a majority of the contest, the Mammoth need to hit the reset button during the last game of the first half of its schedule.

Able to secure the regular season series, 2-1, over the purple and black squad last season, the Mammoth captured its first win of the season last year on Dec. 17 inside Dickies Arena, courtesy of a 12-9 final. Reconvening down south two months later, it was the home team who exited the showdown with a win this time, as Panther City picked up a 13-7 final to set up a dramatic series tie-breaker back at the LOUD HOUSE the following weekend. Seeing Colorado secure a key 14-12 win at Ball Arena, there’s no doubt that Bob Hamley, Tracey Kelusky and company are ready to get some revenge.

Especially given the fact that Panther City enters this weekend’s game with a 3-4 record, most recently dropping a close 10-9 final to the (2-4) Saskatchewan Rush.

Sure, the NLL did away with East and West Conferences last season, but a brief look at the NLL’s standings coming into Week 11 shows former East Conference opponents occupying seven of the eight playoff spots, with six former West Conference squads currently holding seven of the bottom spots. As far as the “Which Conference used to be better?” talk goes, we’re not sure if this means that the West has been more competitive top to bottom, as the teams continue to swap wins and losses, or if the former East teams have truly proclaimed that half of the country to have a leg up. Whether that involves a majority of the league’s players hailing from Eastern Canada and the Northeastern U.S or not, the second half of the 2023-24 season is sure to have some surprises in store, regardless of their geographical location, for the first time!

Representing the second of six Week 11 games and the second of two contests scheduled for Friday night, with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs and Halifax Thunderbirds kicking things off at 4:30 p.m. MT, the former Conference rivals will prepare to duke it out as each team looks to secure the fourth victory of its respective season. Sitting directly next to each other in the NLL standings, with Panther City currently sitting as the first team outside of the playoff picture at No. 9 and Colorado one spot behind at No. 10, this could be a matchup with direct playoff implications, as it also serves as the only time these two teams will meet during the regular season. With head-to-head meetings being one of the many potential tiebreakers needed in the new Unified Standings format, the Mammoth would be wise to give their all Friday night!

With still just three teams able to meet the six-win mark 10 weeks into the season, including the (6-1) Toronto Rock, (6-2) San Diego Seals and (6-2) Albany FireWolves, the playoff picture could literally still be flipped upside down completely, with just four wins separating the top-ranked Rock from the basemen dwelling (2-6) Warriors. Parity is welcomed in this league, which can be frustrating for some of the league’s established squads. With the (5-3) Buffalo Bandits, (4-3) Halifax Thunderbirds, (5-4) Georgia Swarm and (4-4) New York Riptide rounding out teams with even or positive records (.500 or better win percentage), seven of the eight playoff spots have been claimed in some form or fashion. But when it comes to the magical No. 8 spot, there are currently eight teams who find themselves easily within striking distance, as five of the eight sit just one game back with three wins, while the remaining three teams have assembled two wins and very much remain possible contenders.

Friday night’s showdown against Panther City is set to begin at 7 p.m. MT inside Dickies Arena, thus representing Colorado’s fifth away contest of the season and third-straight on the road, now 1-1 during the four-game break from competing inside Ball Arena. Fans can catch the team’s ninth showdown of the year via the national broadcast on ESPNU, stream the matchup live on ESPN+ and stay tuned to and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for game highlights, postgame recaps and beyond!

Last Time They Met

The boys always love putting on a good show inside the LOUD HOUSE, and the last two times these teams met, it was nothing different! Able to secure a key 14-12 final inside Ball Arena, Colorado spotted Panther City an early 2-0 lead before notching four-consecutive goals (Zed Williams, Ryan Lee, Ty Thompson, Brett McIntyre) to get the place roaring. Former Mammoth forward Will Malcom got one back for the away team midway through the second, but he was met with yet another four-goal run from Colorado (Lee, Thompson, Connor Robinson, Dylan Kinnear) as momentum was captured by the home squad. Holding an 8-3 lead midway through the third, Colorado eventually entertained some back-and-forth scoring, as the teams exchanged blows throughout the second half.

With Robinson and a rare goal from defenseman Evan Downey netting a pair of late fourth-quarter goals, they put the contest just out of reach of Panther City’s potential comeback, with Williams sealing the deal at the 14:10 mark, thus solidifying the 14-12 final. Goaltender Dillon Ward Stopped 46-of-57 on the night, while Ryan Lee’s 10-point (2g, 8a) performance paved the way for Colorado. Connor Robinson (2g, 3a), Zed Williams (3g, 1a) and Ty Thompson (3g, 1a) did the rest of the heavy lifting for the Mammoth as they picked up another home victory.

Leading the Way

Offensive stat lines have always been the go-to when it comes to bragging on our boys, but after captain Robert Hope paced the team with three caused turnovers and two blocked shots (tied with Warren Jeffrey) while coming up one short of Jeffrey’s 6 loose balls (5 LBs for Hope), we’re giving Cap his flowers for yet another solid performance. Staying involved in the transition game more than ever, he also added one point (0g, 1a) during Sunday’s contest against San Diego, representing the seventh of eight contests he’s participated in where he’s logged at least one point. Alongside Hope, it’s another big-bodied bruiser who finds himself leading the penalty minute charge after racking up 11 penalty minutes during another scrappy showdown with the Seals. When the Mammoth signed veteran defenseman Paul Dawson, the organization didn’t expect him to be involved in the O-zone very often. He was, however, expected to bring an aggressive and physical approach to Colorado’s back line, and has done so during game play and equally as an enforcer once the whistle has been blown. Happy to stick up for his teammates and settle a disagreement the old fashioned way, he joins the following players in leading the charge so far, including:

Points: 42 (Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 18 (Eli McLaughlin)

Assists: 24 (Eli McLaughlin)

Loose Balls: 56 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 13 (Robert Hope)

Penalty Minutes: 30 (Paul Dawson)

Blocked Shots: 13 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 111 (Tim Edwards)

Consistency is Key

While this section has been dedicated to showcasing the constant efforts the team’s forwards have produced in finding the scoresheet in some form or fashion in each contest they’ve played, we made need to get a goal streak counter going, as forward Connor Kelly (17g, 7a) has now scored in all seven games he’s appeared in after netting yet another hat trick last weekend in San Diego. Marking the newcomer’s third three-goal effort on the season, epic showcases like his four-goal effort a few weeks prior are always welcome, but the team seems to be firing on all cylinders when the entire offense is clicking. Either way, CK is going to get his, and did such against San Diego with another three-goal performance (3g, 0a) inside Pechanga Arena. Able to create on his own while meshing into the team’s established set plays with ease, number 40 is now just one goal behind Eli McLaughlin for the team lead and continues to do everything he can to find twine. On pace to break his career-best goal total from last season (35 goals) despite missing a game earlier this season, Kelly joins the following players in continuing to appear on the scoresheet, including:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (3g, 3a), (2g, 4a), (5g, 5a), (0g, 3a) = 42 points (18g, 24a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 6a), (1g, 4a), (0g, 1a) = 30 points (10g, 20a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (4g, 0a), (1g, 1a), (3g, 0a) = 24 points (17g, 7a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a), (1g, 0a), (2g, 3a), (1g, 1a) = 23 points (8g, 15a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 0a) = 19 points (9g, 10a)

Evan Downey: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

Here, Kitty Kitty!

Securing a spot in the postseason during the organization’s second season of competition last year, General Manager Bob Hamley, TK and friends have done a good job of making the most of what they’ve got. Despite dropping said playoff matchup to the ever-playoff-winning Calgary Roughnecks, 12-9, it was still a step in the right direction for the young, up-and-coming squad. The team’s biggest problem? There are quite a few organizations in the same position these days, with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs a similar comparison and defending an identical 3-4 record. But just one week after posting an entertaining 21-12 final over the Desert Dogs, they found themselves on the bad side of a 10-9 final, dropping a much-needed win to the now 2-4 Saskatchewan Rush, a game the standings say Panther City should’ve been able to capture, but back to that whole parity point. It’s REAL! With wins against the Vancouver Warriors, New York Riptide and Desert Dogs, they’ll need to step up the competition if they want to compete with 8+ teams who find themselves in a similar situation heading into Week 11.

When it comes to the fun stuff, veteran Callum Crawford is pacing his squad with a team-best 47 points (25g, 22a), which includes an insane 14-point (8g, 6a) performance against the Desert Dogs just a few weeks back. If fans thought he was washed over the past year or two, he’s literally done everything in his power to restore his elite status, as both a scoring threat and passing legend. Looking down the rankings, forward Will Malcom has notched 38 points (12g, 26a), including a team-high 6 helpers as the youngster continues to make strides in becoming a well-rounded professional. Quick, shifty and more than willing to get some revenge on the team who traded him two seasons ago, Malcom will be looking to shoot Friday night. Jonathan Donville (9g, 23a), Mathieu Gautier (4g, 18a), Phil Caputo (13g, 5a) and Jason Knox (8g, 8a) round out the team’s double-digit scorers. Caputo has been known to have some decent games against Colorado over the years, so fans can keep an eye on him as the teams clash for the first and only time this season Friday night.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Friday’s Feb. 9 matchup against Panther City Lacrosse Club can be viewed nationally on ESPNU and streamed live on ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on the team’s social media channels and for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2023-24 NLL season.

Limited tickets for Colorado’s RUMBLE at the LOUD HOUSE matchup against the New York Riptide Feb. 23 at Ball Arena remain available!


Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team