After dropping a well-battled Game 1 of the NLL Finals to the Buffalo Bandits last weekend at KeyBank Center, the Mammoth is slated to return to Ball Arena Saturday, June 11 for Game 2 of the best-of-three series as the Loud House prepares to host its first NLL Finals game since Colorado captured the elusive championship in 2006. Despite dropping the 15-14 decision to a quirkily last-minute, odd-man rush situation, Colorado matched the NLL’s hottest offensive unit this season blow-for-blow for more than 59 minutes of the contest.
A contest which featured seven hat tricks overall saw four of them stem from Colorado’s unit, as forwards Eli McLaughlin (3g, 5a), Connor Robinson (3g, 6a), Zed Williams (4g, 4a) and Brett McIntyre (3g, 2a) each met or surpassed the three-goal mark Saturday. McIntyre’s five-point outing represented a career-best for any contest, let alone postseason, and represented the rookie’s first overall NLL hat trick. Zed’s eight-point night marked his second-ever hat trick, with the first coming last month against San Diego, while Robinson and McLaughlin continue to rack up the postseason accolades after recording their fourth and fifth three-goal efforts of the 2022 playoffs, respectively. The remaining three hailed from Buffalo, with Tehoka Nanticoke (5g, 2a), Josh Byrne (3g, 4a) and Dhane Smith (3g, 4a) rounding out the three-plus club on the night.
While Colorado’s forward group has been potent, efficient and regularly able to battle back from scoring streaks, tough goals allowed and beyond, the Mammoth didn’t receive much support in the transition game Saturday. Having relied on the likes of Jordan Gilles, Jalen Chaster and Joey Cupido, who scored in each of Colorado’s first four postseason competitions, Colorado’s defensive unit was preoccupied by dealing with Buffalo’s attack, which didn’t lead to many odd-man opportunities for the traveling squad. Adding to the contest, in which every single goal mattered, was rookie Tehoka Nanticoke, who after having recorded only four points (1g, 3a) in Buffalo’s first three playoff contests, logged seven points (5g, 2a) last weekend to give the first-year forward 11 points (6g, 5a) this postseason.
With both goaltenders having recorded an even 40 saves per side last weekend, combined with another one-goal decision between the evenly-matched opponents, Saturday’s Game 2 should prove to be another entertaining matchup for lacrosse fans throughout North America.
Saturday’s matchup at Ball Arena marks the second postseason matchup between the organizations, as well as the third overall meeting between the teams during the 2021-22 campaign and second to be hosted in Denver. Mammoth fans will be able to watch this weekend’s matchup on ESPNU and stream live on ESPN+!
Fans should be reminded Saturday’s matchup against the Bandits will now begin at 6 p.m. MT, as opposed to the original 7 p.m. start time. For more on NLL Final matchups, Mammoth postseason information and beyond, be sure to check out our 2022 Colorado Mammoth Playoff Hub.
Despite contributing a valiant effort to what’s been considered an “instant NLL classic” Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth dropped a close 15-14 Game 1 decision to the Buffalo Bandits at KeyBank Center last weekend. An Identical score to when the teams met April 2 during a regular season affair, the home team was able to capture the one-goal contest courtesy of a late-game conversion. While both squads feature elite goaltending talents in net, who both made stellar saves throughout the night, it was each team’s offensive units who put on a scoring showcase, nearing the 30-goal mark before a packed Banditland audience. The back-and-forth contest was ultimately decided by a late odd-man rush with less than a minute remaining, sending the Mammoth back to Colorado with a winner-takes-all mindset down 1-0.
Rookie Brett McIntyre decided early in the evening that he was going to have a night, as the first-year forward began his career-best performance (3g, 2a) by burying a marker 55 seconds into the contest, quickly introducing Banditland to Colorado’s potent offensive attack. A combination of that goal representing the Mammoth’s only first quarter-tally and Buffalo reminding its home crowd of its own powerful front-end unit, via scoring the game’s next four conversions, the Bandits carried an early 4-1 lead into the second quarter. Extending its streak to five-in-a-row, Buffalo’s Chase Fraser buried an early one to grant his squad a four-goal lead. A pair of retaliating responses from Connor Robinson and Eli McLaughlin were abruptly answered by a Tehoka Nanticoke goal, the first of his five on the night, which ultimately began an intense scoring exchange.
Seemingly trading scores on respective possessions during the next four-plus minutes of action, McLaughlin answered Nanticoke’s goal 26 seconds later before Dhane Smith and Nanticoke retaliated with a pair of tallies at the 8:50 and 9:04 marks. The Mammoth then went on a three-goal streak of its own, as Williams (9:45), McLaughlin (10:11) and McIntyre (10:41) each recorded their second of the contest as Colorado began to heat up. Another Nanticoke conversion was followed up by Robinson’s second of the night to bring a close 9-8 game into the break. While second-half scoring began a few minutes slower than its predecessor, Nanticoke doubled down by opening the third quarter with a pair of goals at the 4:30 and 5:30 marks to re-open a comfortable three-goal lead for the Bandits. After seven minutes of scoreless play, McLaughlin completed his fifth-consecutive postseason hat-trick effort, scoring with less then four minutes in the third. Josh Byrne logged a goal 22 seconds later, but scores from McIntyre and Chris Wardle brought Colorado back within one as the final quarter approached. True to its back-and-forth fashion, the contest saw corresponding scores from Robison, Chris Cloutier, Williams, Byrne and Williams to create a tie at 14 through the first 14 minutes of fourth-quarter action. But at the 14:09 mark, Buffalo Defenseman Nick Weiss was awarded an odd-man rush in the final minute, which he converted past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward to solidify a 15-14 final at KeyBank Center.
Showing Up to Work:
While Colorado may be without the services of NLL regular season Most Valuable Player nominee Ryan Lee, the Mammoth’s ability to spread the offensive workload has showcased the instant chemistry between Offensive Coordinator Jason Bishop and his ever-talented front-end unit. With the likes of Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson, Zed Williams and company continuing to document their respective best postseason career figures during the Mammoth’s NLL Finals run, Colorado’s lefty-dominant approach has found numerous waves of success since losing Leezer. With spicy contributions from young forwards in Brett McIntyre, Tyson Gibson, Dylan Kinnear and gang, Bishop has tapped into the talent trees of his veterans and youth alike. With one shared endgame in mind, Colorado’s personnel continues to show up to work throughout its playoff run, as six Mammoth players have contributed at least one point in all five postseason appearances so far, including:
Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (3g, 5a), (6g, 1a), (5g, 7a), (3g, 5a) = (20g, 21a)
Connor Robinson (5g, 1a), (4g, 2a), (0g, 3a), (3g, 5a), (3g, 6a) = (15g, 17a)
Zed Williams (1g, 2a), (5g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (2g, 3a), (4g, 4a) = (12g, 12a)
Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a), (0g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (0g, 2a) = (4g, 11a)
Chris Wardle (1g, 4a), (0g, 4a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 3a) = (2g, 13a)
Dylan Kinnear (0g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 2a), (0g, 1a), (0g, 1a) = (2g, 7a)
Mammoth Postseason League-Leaders:
Despite entering Saturday’s contest down a game to Buffalo, Colorado has continued to receive quality performances from its offensive stars in Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson, Zed Williams and company, as the trio combined to record 10 of the Mammoth’s 14 goals Saturday. Sitting atop the NLL postseason scoring books with a league-best 20 goals, 21 assists and 41 points through Colorado’s five postseason appearances, forward Eli McLaughlin has been an absolute gem for the Mammoth organization. If his first four playoff performances weren’t convincing, lacrosse fans can now confirm he’s a certified weapon after recording eight points (3g, 5a) last weekend in Buffalo, his fifth-consecutive postseason hat-trick. Averaging a league-best 8.2 points-per-game, the veteran has earned his respect operating as a threat and playmaker alike, as the offensive leader has stepped up in the absence of normal quarterback Ryan Lee. Logging a team-best nine points (3g, 6a) Saturday in Buffalo, fellow lefty forward Connor Robinson has also seen his helper count rise since the loss of Lee, but continues to find twine and record clutch goals for the resilient Mammoth offense. Entering the weekend ranked second in NLL scoring, only to his roommate, Robinson’s racked up an impressive 32 points (15g, 17a) and joins teammates Robert Hope, Tim Edwards and company ranking among the NLL’s statistical leaders in several categories, including:
Goals: 20 (1st) Eli McLaughlin
Assists: 21 (1st) Eli McLaughlin
Points: 41 (1st) Eli McLaughlin
Points-Per-Game: 8.20 (1st) Eli McLaughlin
Power-Play Goals: 3 (1st) Eli McLaughlin
Game-Winning Goals: 2 (T1st) Zed Williams
Shots on Goal: 57 (1st) Zed Williams
Loose Balls: 46 (1st) Robert Hope
Caused Turnovers: 7 (T2nd) Robert Hope, Joey Cupido
Faceoff Wins: 84 (1st) Tim Edwards
Faceoff Win Percentage: 57.9% (1st) Tim Edwards
*All rankings updated through Game 1 of NLL Finals