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Mammoth Look to Secure Win No. 1 in Saturday Night Showdown with Vancouver

COLORADO MAMMOTH (0-2) VS. VANCOUVER WARRIORS (1-2)
SAT. DEC. 30 | 7 P.M. MT | BALL ARENA
ALTITUDE TV | ESPN+

Finding themselves in a bit of unfamiliar territory, the Mammoth enter Saturday’s Beach Night showdown with the Vancouver Warriors with an 0-2 record after dropping its LOUD HOUSE Home Opener Friday night to the Georgia Swarm. After posting a 7-2 record at home each of the past two seasons, it was a rare victory for the away team, but great motivational fuel for the burgundy squad who is expected to come out with a strong showing in Game 3.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news heading into Saturday’s matchup with the (1-2) Warriors, as the team is expected to move forward Zed Williams and defenseman Jordan Gilles to the Active Roster prior to this weekend’s game, with the pair missing the second game of the season after being placed on the Suspended List. Seeing defensemen Jalen Chaster and Evan Downey make their 2023-24 debuts inside the LOUD HOUSE last weekend, the team is trending in the right direction after beginning the season with eight players on the Injured Reserve List or Physically Unable to Perform List.

With players becoming healthy once again and the organization allowed to roster just 21 members on its Active Roster and an additional four on the Practice Player List, the team’s was forced to execute some transactions early in the week, beginning by sending defenseman Anthony Joaquim and a third-round selection in the 2025 NLL Entry Draft to the Albany FireWolves in exchange for the draft rights to forward Carson Moyer and a second-round selection in the 2025 NLL Entry Draft. Later releasing defenseman Nate Wade from the Injured Reserve List and activating forward Jon Phillips to the Active Roster (who scored 45 points during his rookie season with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs), the team is anticipated to make some additional moves ahead of its Saturday evening Beach Night game in the LOUD HOUSE.

RELATED: Mammoth, FireWolves Agree to Early-Season Trade

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of Thursday afternoon, the team also released defenseman Brett Draper from the Active Roster and placed Practice Player defenseman Jordan Stouros on the Active Roster, where he will retain his Practice Player tag. With the team officially welcoming back forward Zed Williams and defenseman Jordan Gilles from the Suspended List Friday afternoon, they placed Practice Player forward Jon Phillips on the Practice Player List and moved forward Connor Kelly to the Short Term Hold Out List.

Albany, one of just four undefeated teams remaining and just one of two squads to bring a perfect 3-0 record into Week 5’s slate, joins the (3-0) Rochester Knighthawks as the league’s top-ranked teams at this point, with the (2-0) Halifax Thunderbirds and (2-0) Toronto Rock representing the other two lossless teams. On the opposite end of the standings, the Mammoth currently occupy the No. 15 overall spot courtesy of its 0-2 start, while the Vancouver Warriors sit just three spots ahead with their 1-2 start. While fans are used to concentrating on the results of the likes of the San Diego Seals, Calgary Roughnecks and beyond (former West Conference rivals), Mammoth supporters will need to keep an eye on all 14 other squads this year thanks to the league’s revised unified standings approach.

Able to secure a berth in the past two consecutive NLL Finals with 9 and 10 wins, respectively, Colorado doesn’t need to be shooting for a fancy 15-3 record. As always, they’ll likely need to get to the 10-game win mark, leaving plenty of time for the team to continue meshing and the new/young guys to get their bearings. Facing a team which posted a quality 15-7 win over the Swarm in Week 3, the very team which handed Colorado its first two losses of the season, the Mammoth will be tested in each and every game during the remainder of the season, beginning with Vancouver and staying spicy with an NLL Finals rematch against the Buffalo Bandits looming on Jan. 6 in Banditland.

Saturday’s matchup inside Ball Arena represents the first of two matchups against Vancouver this season and the only to take place inside the LOUD HOUSE, with the Warriors set to host Colorado for the regular season finale one month later on Friday, Jan. 26.

Representing the sixth of seven Week 5 showdowns set to occur throughout the league’s matchup, the holiday season lacrosse slate has been restored back to full power after seeing just three games take place during Week 4. With fans set to break out the flip-flops, swimwear and more during the fan-favorite “Beach Night at the LOUD HOUSE,” Saturday night’s fun is set to begin at 7 p.m. MT! Fans can catch the team’s third showcase of the year on Altitude TV and ESPN+.

Last Time They Met

When the teams last met during the 2022-23 season on April 8, 2023, it was Colorado who exited the matchup inside Ball Arena with a clutch 12-5 win over the Warriors. Featuring a stellar performance from goaltender Dillon Ward, who allowed just five goals on 43 shots faced, the Mammoth dominated in the late-season showdown.

Vancouver actually got off to a hot start, scoring three of its five on the night within the opening 12 and a half minutes of play. With Eli McLaughlin getting the home team on the board midway through the first, Colorado trailed by two heading into the second. Limiting the Warriors to just two goals in the final 45 minutes of play, it was all Mammoth from there, with the team outscoring Vancouver 2-1 in the second before pouring it on in the second half.

Posting a 3-0 deficit throughout the third, the team brought just a 6-4 advantage to the final 15 minutes of play and exploded from there. Recording six goals in the fourth to Vancouver’s one tally, the team eventually sealed a 12-5 final as seven different goal-scorers found the scoring sheet for Colorado. None outpaced Eli McLaughlin, though, who registered a team-high six points (4g, 1a). Ryan Lee (1g, 3a), Zed Williams (2g, 1a), Connor Robinson (1g, 2a) and former Mammoth forward Ty Thompson (1g, 2a) highlighted primary scoring efforts for Colorado, while Keenan Bal (0g, 3a) was Vancouver’s only player to surpass the two-point mark.

Leading the Way

Participating in just two games throughout the league’s first four weeks of 2023-24 action, the Mammoth aren’t found atop many league-wide scoring categories at this point but are still putting in the work, both during the week and on the turf. Coming up short in both of its first two contests, the boys will need to pick up the offensive production while limiting Vancouver to 10 or fewer goals if they hope to compete. With Dillon Ward shaking off some rust during his season debut last weekend, he’s expected to be in better health and ready to perform, while reinforcements in Zed Williams, Jordan Gilles and potentially others may be added to the Active Roster, it’s time for the team to turn things around. Two games into the fresh slate of lacrosse, these are the players currently pacing the team in various statistical categories heading into Saturday night’s showdown with the Warriors:

Points: 8 (Connor Kelly, Tyson Gibson, Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 5 (Connor Kelly)

Assists: 6 (Tyson Gibson)

Loose Balls: 18 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 2 (Warren Jeffrey, Jordan Gilles, Jalen Chaster)

Penalty Minutes: 25 (Jordan Gilles)

Blocked Shots: 4 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 33 (Tim Edwards)

Staying Hot

With Ryan Lee out for the season and Connor Kelly stepping as the shiny new offensive option (as he currently leads the team with five goals and remains tied with Eli McLaughlin and Tyson Gibson with a team-best eight points), the team hasn’t gotten off to the fiery start that some expected. But with Zed Williams missing last weekend’s rematch with the Swarm and Kelly continuing to get used to his new role in burgundy and black, a bit of patience will go hand-in-hand with seeing the team grow and come alive on the offensive end as the season progresses. Some teams have been able to rip off impressive 13 and 14-win seasons en route to their deep playoff runs, but that’s just not who this team is most nights. They’ll continue to rely on their All-World netminder in Dillon Ward and its established veteran core in turning things around. When the Mammoth are lighting the lamp, it will very likely be some combination of McLaughlin, Kelly, Tyson or Robinson finding their way to the score sheet, as the forwards continue to lead the way in producing points in each game:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a) = 8 points (3g, 5a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a) = 8 points (2g, 6a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a) = 8 points (5g, 4a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a) = 5 points (3g, 2a)

Chris Wardle: (2g, 2a), (0g, 1a) = 5 points (2g, 3a)

Dylan Kinnear: (2g, 0a), (1g, 2a) = 5 points (3g, 2a)

Robert Hope: (0g, 1a), (0g, 1a) = 2 points (0g, 2a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

Jordan Gilles: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

Jalen Chaster: (0g, 1a) = 1 point (0g, 1a)

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

Pat & Mouse Game

Saturday’s game inside Ball Arena represents the most recent clash between existing rivalrous teams, but the organizations themselves aren’t the only entities with history here. With Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle and Warriors’ bench boss Curt Malawsky set to lead their respective teams into battle, the pair have been coaching against each other for nearly two decades now (not to mention their playing days in the league quite some time ago). The only difference this season? “Mouse” as Malawsky is nicknamed will be coaching for Vancouver after spending his past few years as the head coach and general manager for another of Colorado’s storied rivals in the Calgary Roughnecks. Bringing a few of his players with him, he’s assembled a team that’s expected to give their best effort each and every game, something that may not have been true for the drowning Warriors organization who hasn’t had much success the past few seasons. But with the ever-respected talent changing things up in the Western hub, things are different for the black and silver squad.

One constant for Vancouver comes in the form of forward Keegan Bal, who’s enjoyed more than his fair share of productive nights against Colorado in the past. While the team limited him to just three points during last season’s regular season finale, he posted a team-high eight points (2g, 6a) March 25 when the team recorded a 14-12 win over the Mammoth. Ending the season with a team-best 87 points (34g, 53a) in 17 regular season games played, it’s no surprise that he’s racked up 13 points (4g, 9a) in three games so far this season.

The only forwards ranking higher on the squad in scoring this year are Adam Charalambides (7g, 7a) and Ryan Martel (6g, 8a), who are both producing at career-best rates throughout the opening three matchups. Stumbling through the last season or two of his career in various destinations, it seems veteran Kevin Crowley may have found a home, having logged 11 points (5g, 6a) to start his year. A trio of fellow veteran in Matt Beers, Ryan Dilks and Brett Mydske represent some of the team’s most established back-enders, while Aaron Bold (1-2, 10.38 GAA) continues to provide a net presence for the No. 12-ranked squad. Reid Bowering has been as advertised in his own right after dominating the loose ball charge last season and serving as a threat in the transition game.

Vancouver will need to get things going in said transition game if they want to catch Ward and company by surprise. Set to defend with his high-arc approach, Ward will be in prime form Saturday night, so the Warriors will need to bring their A-game to the LOUD HOUSE if they hope to pick up their second win of the season. Meanwhile for Eli McLaughlin and the good guys, they’ll look to get Ball Arena rocking once again as the teams prepare to GET IN THE BOX!

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s Dec. 30 Beach Night at the LOUD HOUSE showdown against the Vancouver Warriors can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live on ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on the team’s social media channels and coloradomammoth.com for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2023-24 NLL season.

Limited tickets for Colorado’s Beach Night at the LOUD HOUSE matchup against the Warriors Dec. 30 at Ball Arena remain available! Fans who purchase limited edition tickets to the Party Zone will receive a custom Mammoth beach shirt and a light-up Mammoth lei, so secure your seat today and we’ll see you Saturday night!

 

 

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team