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Mammoth Head East for Afternoon Matchup Against No. 1 Rock


DENVER – After dropping a 15-7 decision to the Saskatchewan Rush last weekend during Marvel Super Hero™ Night at the LOUD HOUSE, the (4-8) Colorado Mammoth will look to shift gears as the team heads east for a Saturday afternoon showdown with the league’s No. 1 ranked (10-2) Toronto Rock.

With a pair of B.C. boys in Eli McLaughlin (3g, 1a) and Chris Wardle (2g, 2a) pacing the team with squad-best four-point performances, Colorado’s offense struggled during the team’s 12th game of the season, managing just seven goals throughout 60 minutes of action. But it wasn’t just the O-zone which endured struggles, as the defensive unit came out a bit slow, eventually allowing three different three-goal runs throughout the first half. While some could look at goaltender Dillon Ward, who’s had a bit of an odd year, for the awkward season of results, Head Coach Pat Coyle came to the All-World talent’s defense during last weekend’s postgame press conference, noting that the five guys in front of him were responsible for far more than Ward himself.

RELATED: Colorado Drops 15-7 Final as Saskatchewan Play Villains on Marvel Super Hero™ Night

But that, and the team’s less than perfect 4-8 start to the season, are in the rearview, as the team now has six games remaining to make a push for the 2024 NLL postseason. Set to press the reset button as the squad heads east to take on the Rock inside FirstOntario Centre, Colorado’s hopes of securing yet another postseason berth are mathematically still alive, partially in thanks to the league’s new Unified Standings format (as seven of the NLL’s 15 teams sit with just three, four or five wins as the postseason approaches). Ridding the former East and West conferences, NLL teams are now ranked within on set of table standings, with teams ranked from 1 to 15. Now, the league’s top 8-ranked teams at the end of the 18-game, 21-week season are set to duke it out for the honor of being named the 2024 NLL Champions, despite their geographical locations.

Set to clash for the first time in five years, when the Rock last captured a close 11-10 showdown on Jan. 12, 2019, the No. 14-ranked squad in Colorado will travel to FirstOntario Centre for a bit of a David vs. Goliath matchup Saturday as the Mammoth look to earn its first win of the month.

The Rock have very much earned their 10-2 record this season, having produced a perfect 6-0 record on the road and managed a 4-2 slate playing in their own barn. Trailing only the (7-5) Halifax Thunderbirds with the most goals for amongst the league’s 15 teams (Halifax: 160, Toronto: 150), the Rock have averaged 12.5 goals per-game this season. Enjoying a bit of hot streak lately, as the team is currently riding a four-game win streak, Toronto has managed to surpass its season average in three of its past four performances, which include 16, 9, 16 and 15-goal efforts.

While both of the Rock’s losses this season have come to opponents the Mammoth are rather familiar with in the (5-6) Buffalo Bandits and (5-6) Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado will need to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to keep up with the score-friendly squad, as the Mammoth have averaged just 10.75 goals per-game, partially in thanks to the team’s recent 18-goal performance against the New York Riptide.

On the opposite end of the floor, Ward and his veteran-led defensive unit have relinquished an average of 12.67 goals per-game as newcomers like Paul Dawson, Sean Kriwokon and company continue to learn Colorado’s system. Exactly three goals lower, on average, per-game, the Rock are allowing just 9.67 goals per-game through the team’s first 12 contests of the season, as goaltender Nick Rose is once again putting on a goaltending clinic en route to leading his team to the playoffs once again. Limiting opponents to 10 and five goals, respectively, as the team’s February slate came to a close, Rose and company have been a little more generous so far in March, albeit facing some quality competition in a pair of Joe Tsai-owned teams in the Las Vegas Desert Dogs (allowed 11) and the San Diego Seals (allowed 13).

On paper, this matchup seems to lean one way, for sure. Toronto regularly produces on both ends of the floor, and when you combine those elements with a dosage of home field advantage, the Rock seem like they should advance to 11 wins as they take care of one of the league’s basement-dwelling squads. But with several of the Mammoth’s key players in Robert Hope, Joey Cupido and beyond able to escape the typical dreaded NLL travel schedule (as they live in the greater Toronto area), not to mention plenty of guys like Dillon Ward, Tyson Gibson and others set to return to their home province, there may be a little bit of home field advantage for members of both squads Saturday night. Joey Cupido, is, after all, the pride of Hamilton, Ontario, the team’s actual city of operation since relocating operations from the TRAC (Toronto Rock Athletic Centre).

Another week, another set of contests which drastically shake up the league’s postseason picture! With a few squads continuing to separate themselves from the pack in the Rock and (9-2) Albany FireWolves, the two teams remain atop the 2023-24 standings, albeit with a slight advantage to the Rock. No teams have yet to officially clinch a spot yet, but if there are two teams “basically” in at this point, it’s Toronto and Albany. With the right combination of teams losing, and each of the teams winning, there are scenarios that exist in which either team can secure said berth.

Seeing the (8-4) San Diego Seals fall to Toronto just last weekend, the Seals remain locked into the No. 3 seed as things sit currently, but with both of the (7-5) Halifax Thunderbirds and (7-6) Georgia Swarm just one game back (during the same week in which San Diego and Halifax are set to collide for an intense matchup), there’s plenty of room for movement between the No. 3 to No. 5 seeds this weekend.

Which perfectly queues the league’s March to May campaign, zooming in on each of the NLL’s 15 teams as organizations do everything they can to earn a spot in the eight-team dance, as the remaining seven squads each have either three, four or five wins. In the five-win club: (5-6) Panther City Lacrosse Club, (5-6) Buffalo Bandits, (5-6) Calgary Roughnecks and the (5-6) New York Riptide, each of which feature rosters more than capable of representing themselves well in the playoffs, should they make it.

Mixed in alongside the (4-8) Colorado Mammoth are the (4-5) Saskatchewan Rush, (4-6) Philadelphia Wings and (4-7) Las Vegas Desert Dogs, who have a bit of a ladder to climb should they hope to compete longer than their 18-game regular season schedules. The lone, three-win team, who just earned said victory last weekend, are the (3-8) Vancouver Warriors, who are also technically still in the running, but far from a contender at this point in their rebuild.

Representing the fourth of eight Week 15 games and the first of four contests scheduled for Saturday, with Colorado and Toronto sharing the slate spotlight alongside Albany x Rochester, Las Vegas x New York and Halifax x San Diego, Mammoth fans have plenty to root for outside of the team’s showdown in Toronto if they want to see the boys will their way to the postseason!

Saturday afternoon’s showdown against the Rock is set to begin at 3 p.m. MT inside FirstOntario Centre, thus representing Colorado’s seventh road contest of the season and last game before enduring its second-to-last bye week of the season. Fans can catch the team’s 13th showdown of the year via Altitude TV, stream the matchup live on ESPN+ and stay tuned to and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for game highlights, postgame recaps and beyond!

Leading the Way

Having amassed a team-high 66 points (30g, 36a) throughout his first 12 appearances, Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin sits tied with Toronto Rock forward Mark Matthews with the 10th-most points amongst all NLL scorers this season. Averaging 5.5 points per season after producing four (3g, 1a) last weekend en route to racking up his sixth hat trick performance of the campaign, Liger’s electric flashes may come and go, but his presence on the scoresheet remains unwavering. Continuing to lead Colorado in points (66), goals (30) and assists (36), he’s enjoyed some friendly competition from teammate Connor Kelly throughout a majority of the season, a welcomed addition to the opposite side of the set with his good friend in Ryan Lee being forced to miss the season, but Kelly has cooled off a bit, whereas McLaughlin never stops scoring. In sole possession of the No. 8 goal-scoring rank amongst more than 300 players and remaining tied with several players with the 16th-most assists, Liger will look to keep his leadership hat on and assistant captain patch sewed during this weekend’s contest in Toronto, where he joins the following players in leading the charge so far, including:

Points: 66 (Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 30 (Eli McLaughlin)

Assists: 36 (Eli McLaughlin)

Loose Balls: 87 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 17 (Robert Hope)

Penalty Minutes: 29 (Paul Dawson)

Blocked Shots: 18 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 176 (Tim Edwards)

Consistency is Key

Zed Williams may have posted just two points (0g, 2a) Saturday night, but his relentless ability to physically dominate and create scoring opportunities for his teammates consistently shows up on tape when watching the talented producer. Equally impressive in his isolation on-ball looks, whether killing a man-down opportunity or simply muscling his way through the opposition as a set itself, Williams continues to rank third on the squad in goal-scoring, courtesy of his 17 on the season. Last weekend’s goalless appearance was one of just two this season for Williams, as the net-filler has found twine in nine of the 11 games in which he’s dressed. Six of nine instances have featured two-plus goal efforts, as Williams regularly puts his skills on display for LOUD HOUSE and away fans alike, and will look to do just that this weekend in Toronto, as he joins the following players in consistently producing favorable stat lines, including:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (3g, 3a), (2g, 4a), (5g, 5a), (0g, 3a), (2g, 3a), (3g, 3a), (4g, 5a), (3g, 1a) = 66 points (30g, 36a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (4g, 0a), (1g, 1a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 4a), (2g, 3a), (1g, 6a), (1g, 1a) = 46 points (25g, 21a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 6a), (1g, 4a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 4a), (1g, 0a), (3g, 4a), (1g, 1a) = 44 points (15g, 29a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a), (1g, 0a), (2g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (4g, 2a), (0g, 1a) = 38 points (16g, 22a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 0a), (3g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (0g, 2a) = 35 points (17g, 18a)

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

Rock Solid

Anytime a top-tiered squad gets the pleasure of hosting a below .500 team late in the season, that’s typically viewed as an advantage, and may be so for the Rock personnel as they set their sights on the postseason. However, Toronto’s opponent has found its way to the past two NLL Finals, making the team wise to bunker down and prepare for quite the storm despite Colorado’s unfortunate record. Thankfully for the Rock, they’ve got plenty of talent in all four aspects of the game, including skilled scorers, talented back-enders, willing transition players and straight up: one of the best goaltenders in NLL history.

But it all starts up front for Toronto, as they’ve made the most of acquiring Mark Matthews this past offseason, a talented veteran in his own right. Regularly enjoying favorable performances against Colorado while competing with the Saskatchewan Rush for the better part of a decade, the big man has found success in his new home, now up to 66 points (20g, 46a) on the year. Still able to get his legs moving and lethal at a moment’s notice, his patented pass-heavy approach as of late continues to get the job done for the Rock as he grows his chemistry with fellow top scorers in Corey Small (29g, 21a), Chris Boushy (20g, 24a), Tom Schreiber (11g, 31a) and Dan Craig (18g, 20a), each of whom have established themselves as able veterans producers in their own right.

Featuring a lineup full of tons of depth scoring, the team is also pretty loaded on defense and throughout its special teams units, with faceoff TD Irelan continuing to rank amongst league leaders in faceoff wins (174, 6th) and faceoff win percentage (73%, 2nd). Several of Toronto’s D guys are willing to push the pace in transition as well, and with Nick Rose (10-1, 9.47 goals-against average, 80% save percentage) anchoring things back home, the squad is primed to make another lengthy run, assuming they continue to take care of business during the regular season, and of course, stay healthy.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s March 9 matchup against the Toronto Rock can be viewed locally on Altitude TV 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 the Mammoth’s Colorado Lacrosse Night matchup against the Rochester Knighthawks at Ball Arena remain available as the organization prepares to celebrate the sport we love and the athletes who make Colorado such a lacrosse-forward community!

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team