Mammoth Opens Championship-Defending Campaign in Saskatchewan Dec. 3
COLORADO MAMMOTH (0-0) VS. SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (0-0)
SAT. DEC. 3RD | 6:30 P.M. MT | SASKTEL CENTRE
ALTITUDE TV | ESPN+
As the NLL’s 2022-23 Faceoff Weekend quickly approaches, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for lacrosse fans, as the world’s premier box lacrosse league is set to return to play Dec. 2-3 with six matchups over two days of action-packed lacrosse.
Following its 2021-22 NLL Championship campaign, which saw Colorado defeat the Calgary Roughnecks in the Quarterfinals, best the San Diego Seals in the best-of-three West Conference Finals and conclude its run with two victories over the Buffalo Bandits in the NLL Finals, it’s time for the Mammoth to defend its title and begin its run for a second-consecutive trophy. While the focus is very much still game-to-game, with a majority of the team returning to the lineup for the 2022-23 slate, the taste of the championship celebrations are still fresh, and will be used as motivation in attempting to keep the hardware in Denver for another year.
Luckily for the Rush, who failed to qualify for the NLL Playoffs last season, the organization has enjoyed their fair share of NLL championship success, in earning the honors most recently in 2018, capping off its three-of-four run of winning the cup in 2015, 2016 and eventually completing the feat in 2018. Coming off an 8-10 record from the 2021-22 campaign, after starting the season slow but finding their groove later in the campaign, Saskatchewan will get a shot to compete against the reigning NLL Champions as both teams open their seasons at SaskTel Centre Saturday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. MT.
Last Time They Met
While Colorado was able to post an impressive, yet expected, 7-2 record at the Loud House last season, the squad struggled on the road, ending the regular season just 3-6 as the visiting team, which included two, one-goal road losses to the Rush (10-9 OTL Feb. 26, 9-8 L April 16) in Saskatchewan.
In what always seems to boil down to a close matchup in Saskatoon, last season was surely no exception, as both contests came down to dramatic conclusions. Most recently, April 16, as the Mammoth closed its campaign out with two games on the road (Saskatchewan and Calgary), Colorado came up just one goal short in the back-and-forth contest. With three penalties called on the Mammoth within seven minutes in the second period, including a five-minute boarding major, the team was a bit gassed heading into the half as the Rush shrunk its deficit to one via a 5-4 score, in favor of Colorado.
Other than a Mark Matthews goal 34 seconds into the second half, the third quarter would only see one goal, coming from Dan Lintner midway through the period and leaving the Mammoth behind by one entering the final 15. Another early marker, Eli McLaughlin completed his hat-trick effort 32 seconds into the fourth, but was quickly answered by a pair of tallies at the 1:39 (Marshall Powless) and 1:49 marks (Mike Mallory), to regain the lead for Saskatchewan. As the score-friendly fourth continued, Ryan Lee recorded a goal for Colorado at the 2:21 mark, only be to be immediately answered by defenseman Holden Garlent with a goal of his own nine seconds later. Connor Robinson got the visiting squad back within one via an impressive shot with five minutes to play, but the Mammoth weren’t able to force overtime, falling 9-8 to its West Conference rivals.
Despite the loss, Ryan Lee led all scorers with eight points (1g, 7a) en route to earning a second-star mention, while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 1a) and Zed Williams (2g, 2a) rounded out scoring for Colorado. Mark Matthews (2g, 4a) did the heavy lifting for the Rush, with Robert Church (1g, 3a) and Dan Lintner (2g, 1a) cleaning up the rest and capturing the regular season series 2-1.
Meet The Team
Featuring a variety of veterans, young players and a few new faces, the 2022 NLL Champions are officially set to defend its title, beginning with a Dec. 3 season-opening battle against the Saskatchewan Rush this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. MT. After submitting its final roster designations to the league Monday afternoon, the team also named several players to its Practice Player List, Injured Reserve Lists, Physically Unable to Perform List, Protected Player List and Hold Out List, respectively.
Returning for Colorado’s O-unit, Zed Williams, Brett McIntyre, Eli McLaughlin, Dylan Kinnear and Connor Robinson will lead goal-scoring efforts, with newcomer Jake Foster and All-Pro Ryan Lee beginning the year on the Injured Reserve List, Chris Wardle currently residing on the Physically Unable to Perform List and Tyson Gibson, Asher Nolting and Logan Wisnauskas being placed on the Holdout List to begin the season.
New to the Mammoth’s pool of offensive talent, Austin Murphy, Mike Burke and Ty Thompson will look to get involved and prove they can produce.
Burke, who’s recorded 120 points (43g, 77a) and 139 loose balls in parts of six NLL seasons, including two years with Colorado (2015, 2016), where he logged 34 points (14g, 20a) in 20 appearances, brings the most NLL experience of the three, having played in 52 contests heading into the season. Murphy, who was originally drafted in the fourth round (41st overall) of the 2017 NLL Entry Draft, made his debut with the Rush during the 2020 season and logged 13 points (7g, 6a) and 14 loose balls in nine combined professional appearances during the 2020 and 2022 campaigns. Thompson, who was cut by the Las Vegas Desert Dogs during the team’s inaugural training camp, was quickly signed by Colorado, as the 6-6, 210-lb. forward will look to move some bodies around down low while looking for his first professional goal as the Mammoth continue to get healthy up front. The Nepean, ON native has recorded two points (0g, 2a) and two loose balls in two NLL contests, both with the New York Riptide last season.
RELATED: Defending NLL Champion Colorado Mammoth Announces 2022-23 Roster
On the defensive end of the floor, Colorado has several of its veterans and returning youth pieces returning to help Ward and company in net, with Noah Lebar, Tim Edwards, Josh Sullivan, Warren Jeffrey, Robert Hope, Jordan Gilles, Anthony Joaquim, Nick Finlay, Jalen Chaster, John Lintz and Joey Cupido set to begin the year on the Active Roster for the Mammoth. Brett Craig, who’s starting on the Injured Reserve List, is expected to the join the team at some point this season, while new guys Evan Downey and Brett Draper will start the season on the Practice Player List.
While the Rush may have ended last season with an 8-10 record, they were arguably one of the league’s hottest teams in the second half of the season, winning five of its last six regular season games in attempting to secure a last-minute wild card spot. The squad also held a respectable 6-3 home record at SaskTel Centre last season and continues to pair up well against West Conference opponents in having a balanced scoring attack and defensive presence, with nearly everyone on the roster capable of making a push in transition.
Leading the charge last year, and most, Robert Church (38g, 56a) and Mark Matthews (30g, 62a) combined for 186 points during the regular season, allowing the team to have two elite offensive options and making it harder on defenses who want to eliminate an opponent’s top threat. Ryan Keenan’s 63 points (21g, 42a) and Dan Lintner’s 42 (26g, 16a) represent the remaining leading scorers returning from last season, with Jeff Shattler now retired.
Holding down the veteran-led club, Mike Messenger, Kyle Rubisch and Matt Beers will lead the team’s defensive efforts, with Bobby Kidd III, Ryan Dilks and Holden Garlent rounding out the regularly-involved back-enders for Saskatchewan. After witnessing a bit of a goaltender circus last season, the Rush signed netminder Alex Buque to shore up its efforts, with Eric Penney set to serve as backup to begin the year. Buque has spent time with a few NLL teams during his career, most recently with the Vancouver Warriors, which the Mammoth swept 3-0 in the regular season series during its 2021-22 NLL Championship campaign.
Get in the Game
Mammoth road games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s game against the Saskatchewan Rush can be viewed on Altitude 2. 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 2022-23 NLL season.
RELATED: Altitude Announces 2022-23 Colorado Mammoth Broadcast Schedule
Tickets for Colorado’s Jan. 7 home-opener against the Calgary Roughnecks are available for purchase, so come watch us raise our 2021-22 NLL Championship banner and match up with another West Conference rival as we welcome back the LOUDEST HOUSE IN LACROSSE!