After picking up a thrilling 8-7 overtime victory against the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday, the Mammoth will look to sustain its momentum in Week 5 against one of the NLL’s highest-scoring squads as Colorado travels to Infinite Energy Arena to take on the Georgia Swarm at 5 p.m. MT Saturday, Dec. 28. The matchup will be available for fans to stream via Bleacher Report Live.
Despite dropping a 9-8 decision during the team’s season opener, the Mammoth have shown resilience on the defensive end, limiting opponents to a combined 16 goals in two games. Colorado will be tasked with dampening one of the league’s most potent offenses in the Swarm, who have combined for 26 goals in two games so far this season (tied for 1st overall with Halifax) as Georgia hosts Colorado for its second of three consecutive home games.
Beat the Best to be the Best
The Mammoth have been tested early and often this season, drawing matchups against recent NLL champions in the team’s first three games (Saskatchewan Rush, 2015, 2016, 2018; Calgary Roughnecks 2019; Georgia Swarm, 2017.)
2018-19 Series Recap
Colorado captured the lone regular season matchup between the Mammoth and Swarm last year, a 10-8 victory as the Mammoth posted a 54-41 shot differential at Pepsi Center Feb. 16, 2019. Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward stopped 33-of-41 while Eli McLaughlin (4g, 2a) and Joey Cupido (1g, 2a) led the team in scoring. Randy Staats (2g, 3a) Lyle Thompson (1g, 2a), and Shayne Jackson (1g, 2a) set the pace for the Swarm as goaltender Mike Poulin stopped 44-of-53 on the night during a contest that saw a combined 12 penalties.
Four of Colorado’s eight Mammoth goals scored Saturday Dec. 21 against the Calgary Roughnecks came from rookies Will Malcom (2), Dylan Kinnear and Brett Craig, all of whom logged their NLL career-first goals during the 8-7 overtime victory. Look for the youngsters to keep the momentum going in the O-zone while rookie defenseman Warren Jeffrey continues to provide a solid defensive presence. Jeffrey and Craig are currently tied for fifth amongst NLL rookies with 10 loose balls, while Will Malcom ranks tied for sixth among NLL rookies with three points (2g,1a).
Keys to the Game
After limiting Saskatchewan (9) and Calgary (7) to a combined 16 goals in its first two matches, the Mammoth will face its greatest test of the season as Georgia totes a league-best scoring attack headlined by Lyle Thompson (8g, 6a), Shayne Jackson (6g, 6a), Randy Staats (1g, 8a) and company. Facing a pair of forwards who are tied for the lead league in points (Thompson) and assists (Staats), the Mammoth will look to contain these offensive juggernauts by staying sound defensively, crowding shooting lanes and ensuring quick, clean transitions to limit opportunities for the Swarm.
As effective as Georgia has been on the offensive end, its defensive unit has limited opponents to 10 goals in two games and ranks tied for first in the NLL with Buffalo for least goals against through two contests. The Mammoth will need to score early and often to keep this one close, a task Colorado is more than willing to fulfill.
After providing a stalwart effort to lead the Mammoth to its first win of the campaign last week, Dillon Ward is expected to see his fair share of work against the Swarm. Surpassing 3,600 career saves during the Dec. 21 matchup against Calgary, Ward will look to stay hot as the Mammoth travel for the team’s second consecutive road game.
Saturday’s matchup in Georgia will feature two of the league’s premier netminders in Dillon Ward and Mike Poulin, both who rank amongst league leaders in several categories:
Dillon Ward: Mike Poulin:
7.55 Goals Against Average (4th) 4.33 Goals Against Average (1st)
0.862 Save Percentage (3rd) 0.911 Save Percentage (1st)
100 saves (2nd) 82 saves (5th)
Entering Saturday’s contest, Georgia leads the league in power-play efficiency, converting on 6-of-9 opportunities through two contests (66.7%) while the Mammoth have successfully killed off 6-of-11 power-plays to rank 8th in the league (54.55%.) Colorado will look to stay out of the penalty box after committing seven penalties last week against Calgary.
Despite committing seven penalties against the Roughnecks last week, the Mammoth drew six power-play opportunities and were able to convert on three of them. Through two games, Colorado is 6-for-10 on the extra-man advantage, which is good for a second-place tie with the Saskatchewan Rush. Unfortunately for the Mammoth, drawing the penalties will be an easier task than converting, as Colorado faces a stout defensive special teams unit in Georgia, which has killed 10-of-12 as a PK unit thus far, including a perfect 4-for-4 against Philadelphia Dec. 14 during a 12-6 victory. Ranking second in the league with an 83.33% penalty kill squad, Georgia will force Colorado to spread the floor and find the open man as the Mammoth face a tough task this weekend.
Tickets to Colorado’s Jan. 4 matchup against the Vancouver Warriors and all Mammoth home games can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.