Since dropping its 10-9 overtime loss in Saskatchewan Feb. 26, the Mammoth has witnessed the San Diego Seals post a 1-1 record, while Vancouver failed to capture its last two and Saskatchewan dropped its most recent contest last weekend against Panther City. As the Western Conference playoff battle heats up and the NLL trade deadline approaches (March 15), the Mammoth looks to control the elements that it can as the organization prepares to host the Lacrosse Club on Friday.
As the result of its 6-3 record through the official halfway point of its season, Colorado enters Week 15 in second place of the NLL’s Western Conference and fourth overall among NLL teams this season. Having captured an early-season series against Vancouver during consecutive victories in Vancouver Jan. 7 and then back at the Loud House Jan. 29 against the Warriors, Colorado looks to get an edge on another conference opponent Friday as the Mammoth hosts Panther City at Ball Arena for the first time.
Mammoth fans will be able to stream Friday’s matchup, and all Mammoth games this season, on ESPN+! This weekend’s matchup will also air locally on Altitude TV.
Following up on a physical, hard-fought battle at the Loud House as the Mammoth defeated the Saskatchewan Rush 12-10 during a Sunday Funday matchup Feb. 20, Colorado dropped its most recent game when the team traveled to SaskTel Centre six days later. The dramatic, 10-9 overtime finish in front of the loyal Rush fanbase served as both a reminder of how resilient this Mammoth squad has been this season and how competitive the Western Conference remains. Featuring a roster loaded with experienced veterans, goal-scorers and defensemen alike, Saskatchewan’s latest acquisition, Eric Penney, made his debut with the organization en route to handing the Mammoth a Week 13 loss, merely the third loss in nine games.
After being outscored 4-2 in the opening period of play, the Mammoth managed to keep pace with the Rush in the second, outscoring them 3-2 to bring a 6-4 score into the break. Following an early third-quarter power-play conversion from Rush forward Robert Church, Colorado went on to score the contest’s next two markers, negating the Rush’s lead to one. Similar to its Feb. 20 matchup, Saskatchewan managed to score the first goal of all four quarters, as DU favorite Mark Matthews logged his lone tally of the evening two minutes into the final period.
With some extra steam for his prior club, Mammoth forward Connor Robinson fueled Colorado to a late comeback with an amazing shorthanded tally with under three minutes remaining, before Mammoth scoring extraordinaire Eli McLaughlin silenced SaskTel Centre in the contest’s final thirty seconds by sending a saucer past Penney to force overtime up north. Despite commendable Mammoth efforts in the extra period, veteran Robert church eventually ended the contest after seven minutes of intense action.
Despite dropping the contest, Dillon Ward continued to shine in net for Colorado, as the goaltender stopped 62-of-72 on the evening. Ryan Lee (2g, 4a) and Connor Robinson (2g, 4a), each recorded six points Saturday. Eli McLaughlin kept his nine-game goal streak alive after posting three points (2g, 1a), while Chris Wardle (1g, 2a), Zed Williams (1g, 1a) and Tyler Digby (0g, 3a) highlighted offensive efforts for Colorado. Forward Dylan Kinnear also continued a recent goal streak, as the second-year O-man posted a dirty, yet fantastic, diving effort late in the third quarter.
Ryan Lee & The Consisten-Zs:
Exiting its second bye week of the season and officially entering its second half of the campaign, the Colorado Mammoth continue to find itself in nearly every game, via the fantastic goaltending efforts its received and a variety of goal-scoring power from its front end threats. Forward Ryan Lee continues to pace the Mammoth offense in goals (23), assists (37) and points (60) after recording six points (2g, 4a) during the team’s last outing. While ranking among league-leaders in numerous categories as the forward continues to fuel his Most Valuable Player campaign, the RIT product’s 6.67 points-per-game rank highest among players to have played in nine-plus games and second-most in the NLL overall heading into Week 15, as the fourth-year forward continues to rank alongside elite NLL scoring talent, including:
Jeff Teat: 6.87 PPG (55 in 8 GP)
Ryan Lee: 6.67 PPG (60 in 9 GP)
Dhane Smith: 7.0 PPG (70 in 10 GP)
Callum Crawford: 6.1 PPG (61 in 10 GP)
Lyle Thompson: 6.09 PPG (67 in 11 GP)
In nine games this season, Ryan Lee has logged a goal in all but one (0g, 9a 2/5 vs. Calgary) and joins teammates Connor Robinson and Eli McLaughlin as the only forwards to have recorded at least one point in all nine contests for the Mammoth this season. Currently tied with his career-best point totals from the shortened 2019-20 season (60 points in 13 GP) the 2018 NLL Entry Draft selection heads into his 10th game of the year with plenty of momentum to set new career highs in all personal offensive categories. While Lee and Robinson have led the scoring attack, forwards Eli McLaughlin and Zed Williams have continued to find twine while getting their teammates involved and represent two of four players who’ve scored at least one point in each game played this season, including:
Ryan Lee (5g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (2g, 10a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 9a), (2g, 2a), (5g, 2a), (2g, 4a) = (23g, 37a)
Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 4a), (1g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 4a), (2g, 2a) = (17g, 22a)
Zed Williams (2g, 1a) (0g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 3a), (0g, 4a), (1g, 1a) = (6g, 14a)
Sam LeClair (3g, 0a), (3g, 1a), (0g, 1a) = (6g, 1a)
Colorado enters Week 15 of NLL play as the only team to have allowed fewer than 10 power-play conversions this season (9) and continues to rely on its league-best penalty-kill unit, which has effectively negated 29-of-38 opportunities (76.3 kill percentage). Having only recorded 101 penalty minutes in nine matchups, which qualifies as the fewest for any team so far this season, the Mammoth head into Friday’s matchup against Panther City with the third-lowest average of penalty minutes per-game (11.22). As the team continues to execute at a high level during its impressive start to the campaign, the Mammoth roster features several individuals who rank among league-leaders in multiple categories, despite only logging nine games, including:
Goals: 23 (T7th) Ryan Lee
Assists: 37 (T6th) Ryan Lee
Points: 60 (6th) Ryan Lee
Points-Per-Game: 6.67 (2nd – 1st among players with 9+ GP) Ryan Lee
Loose Balls: 85 (T11th) Robert Hope
Caused Turnovers: 16 (T9th) Robert Hope
Shorthanded Goals: 3 (2nd) Connor Robinson
Shorthanded Assists: 2 (T1st) Robert Hope, Chris Wardle, Ryan Lee
Game-Winning Goals: 3 (T1st) Eli McLaughlin
Save Percentage: .826 (1st) Dillon Ward
Goals-Against Average: 9.50 (3rd) Dillon Ward
*All rankings updated through Week 14 of NLL play
Young, Wild and Free
For an expansion club, Panther City has arguably held its own through the franchise’s first 11 games and enters its Loud House matchup at 3-8, with six of the 11 games being decided by one goal, including when the Club hosted Colorado early in the season. Of the team’s three victories this season, two of them were earned in overtime sessions, most recently last weekend when Panther City defeated the Saskatchewan Rush.
Despite its latest win against the Rush and now sitting alongside Saskatchewan and Calgary with three wins, Panther City currently ranks sixth in the west and 13th overall, having registered more losses thus far than the Rush (7) and Roughnecks (6). The organization has completed the most games amongst conference opponents through Week 14. Regardless of the club’s slow start and last place ranking in the Western Conference, it enters Friday’s matchup on its franchise-first two-game win streak.
Sitting in the middle of the pack, Panther City ranks ninth among NLL teams with a 39.3 percent penalty-kill rate and ninth with a 52.8 percent power-play conversion rate. While Colorado’s scoring attack has been rather evenly-spread throughout all four quarters of play, Panther City has found more success in the first half of contests. Friday’s contest may ultimately be decided in the fourth quarter, as most Western Conference and overall NLL games have this season, but the third quarter has proven to be impactful for both organizations this year, as third quarter goal totals for Panther City (22 goals in 11 games) represent the team’s lowest average per quarter, while Colorado’s third quarter efforts have limited opponents to a combined 16 goals against in nine opportunities, which qualifies as the second-fewest allowed in any quarter by any team this season.
When the NLL’s newest franchise finds success, its youthful players are usually clicking. Regardless of the outcome of games, Panther City’s young forwards have proven themselves able to keep pace with even the most veteran-paced teams so far this season. Among the NLL’s top 16 rookie scoring leaders heading into Week 15, four of them can be found on the Panther City’s roster in Patrick Dodds (2nd), Nathan Grenon (10th), Taite Cattoni (13th) and Dean Fairall (T16th).
Dodds’ first-year efforts, and 44 points (14g, 30a), which rank as the second-highest among NLL rookies this season, fuel the team’s five-on-five success and have also provided a spark for the organization’s power-play units. The forward ranks among rookie leaders with three power-play goals (3rd), seven extra-man helpers (T2nd) and 10 power-play points (T3rd) and has also recorded the game-winning goal in two of the team’s three victories during its inaugural campaign.
Grenon and former Mammoth NLL Entry Draft selection Jordan Trottier have racked up the most and second-most penalty minutes among first-year players, with 17 and 16 penalty minutes recorded, respectively. First-year defenseman Josh Medeiros has recorded six points in 10 games with the squad and also ranks third among rookies with 55 loose balls and first among all NLL players with 14 blocked shots.
While forward Will Malcom’s rookie season was technically spent with Colorado, the second-year forward has complemented the youthful approach and has recorded 45 points (16g, 29a), which qualifies tied for 20th-most among NLL players.
Panther City’s roster features two players who’ve played in all 11 of the team’s games, as the organization has executed a variety roster moves, free agent signings, trades and beyond, including dealing veteran forward Ryan Benesch to the Albany FireWolves since the teams first met in December. Comparatively, 10 of Colorado’s field players have played in each of the team’s contests this year, with goaltender Dillon Ward qualifying as the 11th to log time in all nine contests. The “rookie” club will look to continue its win streak while visiting the Loud House for the first time Friday night, as Ryan Lee and company get back to work after 12 days of rest.
New Faces, New Places
Since placing faceoff man Tim Edwards and defenseman Noah Lebar on the Injured Reserve List in February, Colorado signed Nick Finlay to the team’s Practice Player List prior to its Feb. 26 matchup. The 6-3, 200 lb. defenseman stemming from Trent University will look to provide some depth to the banged up back end is set to log his first practice with the team Thursday evening.
The Mammoth followed that signing up in hopes to improve in the circle, as Alex Woodall was signed to the Practice Player List March 4. Hailing from Annapolis, MD, the former Towson product will look to provide some stability in the faceoff department after the Mammoth captured 1-of-23 opportunities in its last matchup against the Rush. Woodall most recently logged 12 games with the New York Riptide during the 2019-20 campaign, where he recorded two assists, 84 loose balls and 176 faceoff wins.
Get in the Game
Tickets to Colorado’s March 11 Rumble at the Loud House matchup against Panther City Lacrosse Club, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+.