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Sat, Apr 29
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Mammoth Heads North to Saskatchewan as NLL Playoff Picture Tightens

Tying its season-best win streak, the Colorado Mammoth captured its third-consecutive victory last weekend by posting an impressive 11-10 win over its conference rival San Diego Seals Saturday as the Loud House celebrated Fan Appreciation Night April 9. Continuing to ride an encouraging wave of momentum throughout its three-game homestand, Colorado enters the weekend in first place of the West Conference with a 10-6 record. With the team’s sights set north to Saskatchewan, the Mammoth will receive its chance to secure a home playoff game April 16 by visiting the veteran-lead Rush squad at SaskTel Centre.

Since securing a pair of victories against two New York-based squads in Week 18 (Buffalo Bandits, New York Riptide), this Colorado squad understands the elements of a successful Mammoth gameday: Preparation, execution and of course, elite goaltending. Netminder Dillon Ward has proven game-in and game-out that he’s capable of earning his team a shot in any given game, regularly standing on his head while facing (and stopping) a high number of shots. Thanks to the help of his defensive unit and stellar individual play, Ward enters this weekend’s matchup against Saskatchewan ranked among NLL goaltenders in save percentage (2nd, .808), saves (617) and wins (9). Despite missing team captain Robert Hope in its last three contests (holdout list – awaiting childbirth), Colorado’s defense was able to hold its last three opponents to seven, 10 and 14 goals, with the 14 goals-allowed stemming from the NLL’s hottest offense this season in the Buffalo Bandits.

Looking around the West, San Diego was able to clinch a playoff berth of its own last weekend, despite dropping its last four contests and falling to second place in the conference. The Seals’ postseason path was solidified late Saturday evening as Panther City and Vancouver each lost their matchups, allowing San Diego to sneak in with nine wins. After picking up a pair of victories last weekend, the Calgary Roughnecks have quietly made their way to third place in the West, amounting an 8-7 record since starting its season on the snoozy side of the standings. With convincing wins over the Halifax Thunderbirds (13-8) and Panther City Lacrosse Club (14-4) within 24 hours, the Superman-paced squad is riding the league’s longest current win streak with four in-a-row heading into Week 20. Calgary is eligible to claim one of the four remaining playoff invitations this weekend if the club is able to defeat the Vancouver Warriors, however, Vancouver will be fighting for its life Saturday, as the club needs a victory itself to refrain from being eliminated from the 2022 Chase for the Championship.

Panther City and Saskatchewan, Colorado’s opponent this weekend, both need to be victorious this weekend in order to prolong their chances of making the dance, thought both organizations are somewhat at the mercy of several East Conference matchup results this weekend, as scenarios exist where each can be eliminated due to those games.

While Panther City, Vancouver and Saskatchewan aren’t eliminated from postseason possibilities just yet, the fourth spot in the west (NLL wild card) currently belongs to the Philadelphia Wings, who have amassed an 8-8 record through 16 games in a crowded, but talented, East Conference. The Wings, who can seal their playoff berth this weekend with a victory over the Albany FireWolves, are currently best-positioned to make a run in the West, after posting a 13-12 overtime victory over the Seals a few weeks ago and handing Panther City its first franchise loss in Week 1, ending its cross-conference competition this season with a 2-0 record against the West.

With a variety of home game, playoff berth and elimination scenarios possible throughout the weekend, Week 20 around the NLL will likely serve instrumental in forecasting at least three of the remaining four postseason bids. If the NLL postseason were to begin this weekend, Colorado would be slated to host the Philadelphia Wings, who currently occupy the wild card spot. San Diego, with a 9-6 record, sits just a half game behind the Mammoth in second place of the West and would host the Roughnecks, who currently loom just a game back from the Seals at 8-7.

Sitting in last place of the West at 5-10, yet still not eliminated from qualifying as a wild card team, the veteran-based Saskatchewan squad is set to host Colorado after posting a 15-13 victory over the Vancouver Warriors last weekend. The win kept the squad’s playoff chances alive while putting Vancouver in a similarly-desperate spot at 6-10. The Rush enters this weekend’s matchup with a win-or-go-home mentality, as the team will turn to its offensive leaders in Robert Church (31g, 45a) and Mark Matthews (25g, 48), who both had productive nights last time the two squads met.

Saturday’s matchup at SaskTel Centre represents the third of three regular season contests scheduled against the Saskatchewan Rush, and the second of two to be hosted at SaskTel Centre. Mammoth fans will be able to stream Saturday’s matchup, and all Mammoth games this season, on ESPN+!

Looking Back:

The Mammoth posted an 11-10 victory over the San Diego Seals last weekend before a rowdy Loud House crowd of nearly 10,000 as Colorado claimed first place of the West. The Seals opened the scoring and quickly added to it on the power-play two minutes later to the give club an early lead. Eventually responding to its slow start, which have come regularly lately for Colorado, the Mammoth went on to record the next four, with Tyson Gibson logging a late first-quarter marker and Connor Robison, Jordan Gilles and Dylan Kinnear netting the first three of the second. Tying the game with two markers in less than 90 seconds, the Seals brought a 4-4 game into the under-10 break. From there, the squads exchanged scores in the contest’s next five conversions, as Colorado took a 7-6 lead into the half.

Seals’ forward Austin Staats didn’t waste much time coming back from the break, as San Diego tied the game one minute into the third quarter. A pair of goals from Eli McLaughlin and Ryan Lee during a low-scoring third was followed up by a late Casey Jackson tally to solidify a 9-8 score to end the period. Jackson stayed hot and logged his fourth of the night two minutes into the fourth to create another dramatic final quarter at the Loud House. Thankfully, Colorado’s defense was up to the challenge – complemented by markers from Lee and Robinson – and ultimately held San Diego to two fourth-quarter goals and helped the Mammoth survive the 11-10 final.

Ryan Lee (2g, 5a) paced Mammoth scorers with seven points, while forward Connor Robinson (3g, 3a) continued to put in work in the O-zone Saturday. Tyson Gibson recorded five points (2g, 3a), his most with Colorado since being acquired in March, while Jordan Gilles (2g, 0a) and Eli McLaughlin (1g, 2a) provided some key depth scoring for the squad. San Diego’s leading scorers included Casey Jackson (4g, 0a), Austin Staats (2g, 3a) and Wes Berg (2g, 2a), a testament to Colorado’s continually-meshing defensive unit.

Showing up to Work:

Keeping the squad on track during its current three-game winning streak, offensive juggernaut Ryan Lee recorded seven points (2g, 5a) in Week 19 during a dramatic 11-10 victory over the San Diego Seals. Consistently creating space for and connecting with teammates Connor Robinson, Eli McLaughlin and beyond, the trio entered the contest as the only three players to have recorded 30+ goals on the same team. With Buffalo playing two contests last weekend, Chase Fraser was able to qualify as Buffalo’s third, which puts some perspective into how special the Mammoth offense has been with Lee running the show this season. Since surpassing his previous season-best point total (60 in 13 GP) earlier this season, Lee has now recorded 100+ points for the first time in his career, as the forward ranks second in points (105), second in assists (73) and tied for 11th in goals (32). Lee’s 6.56 points-per-game rank second-most in the NLL heading into Week 20, as the RIT product continues to perform alongside elite NLL scoring talent, including:

Dhane Smith: 7.87 PPG (126 in 16 GP)

Ryan Lee: 6.56 PPG (105 in 16 GP)

Jeff Teat: 6.46 PPG (84 in 13 GP)

Lyle Thompson: 6.0 PPG (84 in 14 GP)

Callum Crawford: 5.92 PPG (77 in 13 GP)

Through Colorado’s first 16 games and with two regular season matchups left on the schedule, Eli McLaughlin joins Ryan Lee as the only players to have recorded at least one point in all 16 contests for the Mammoth this season. Since seeing Lee record season-best figures throughout the season, McLaughlin is quickly approaching career-best totals of his own (76 points in 16 GP), as the forward has logged 73 points (31g, 42a) operating alongside Connor Robinson as the team’s top weapons on the left side. After suffering an injury early in the team’s April 4 matchup against the Riptide, Mammoth forward Zed Williams exited the contest without a point, breaking his 13-game scoring streak with his new club and leaving McLaughlin and Lee as the team’s two players to have recorded at least one point in each game played this season:

Ryan Lee (5g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (2g, 10a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 9a), (2g, 2a), (5g, 2a), (2g, 4a), (3g, 2a), (1g, 12a), (1g, 2a), (0g, 3a), (1g, 7a), (1g, 5a), (2g, 5a) = (32g, 73a)

Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 4a), (1g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 4a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 4a), (5g, 6a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (4g, 1a), (1g, 2a) = (31g, 42a)

Mammoth League-Leaders:

Colorado approaches Week 20 of NLL play receiving standout performances from several members of the team as the squad continues to find success on both ends of the floor. Anchored by one of the league’s best goaltenders this year in Dillon Ward, the Mammoth has been able to again depend on its stalwart defensive efforts, as the netminder ranks among league-leaders in save percentage (.808, 2nd), saves (617, 2nd), wins (9, 3rd) and goaltender points (10, 2nd). As the team continues to work as a collective force while looking to clinch a home playoff spot by concentrating efforts for its last two matchups, the Mammoth roster features several individuals who rank among league-leaders in multiple categories, including:

Goals: 40 (3rd) Connor Robinson

Assists: 73 (2nd) Ryan Lee

Points: 105 (2nd) Ryan Lee

Points-Per-Game: 6.56 (2nd) Ryan Lee

Shots on Goal: 168 (1st) Ryan Lee

Caused Turnovers: 24 (9th) Robert Hope

Shorthanded Goals: 3 (T2nd) Connor Robinson

Shorthanded Assists: 3 (T1st) Chris Wardle

Game-Winning Goals: 4 (2nd) Eli McLaughlin

Save Percentage: .808 (2nd) Dillon Ward

Saves: 617 (2nd) Dillon Ward

Wins: 9 (3rd) Dillon Ward

Goaltender Points: 10 (2nd) Dillon Ward

*All rankings updated through Week 19 of NLL play

Get in the Game

Mammoth road games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on the team’s social channels for upcoming updates on 2021-22 Playoff announcements, 2022-23 ticket renewals and more!

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