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Mammoth, Seals Prepare for Rare Sunday Showdown

COLORADO MAMMOTH (3-4) VS. SAN DIEGO SEALS (5-2)
SUN. FEB. 4 | 4 P.M. MT | PECHANAGA ARENA
ESPNU | ESPN+

DENVER – After securing a convincing 14-8 victory over the Vancouver Warriors last weekend, the Mammoth find themselves at 3-4 on the season and riding a two-game win streak in thanks to the squad’s 13-10 win over the Calgary Roughnecks the weekend prior.

RELATED: Colorado Secures Convincing 14-8 Win Over Vancouver

Seeing All-Star forward Eli McLaughlin come out of the gates FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS en route to putting on a show for his hometown crowd last weekend, the talent quickly racked up a natural hat trick in the first quarter on his way to scoring a game-high 10 points (5g, 5a). Just as epic, yet performing at the opposite end of the circus, goaltender Dillon Ward seemed to return to his All-World status, allowing just eight goals in 60 minutes of play while making 38 saves.

But in a league where each and every showdown will ultimately count, potentially more than any season before with the league’s new table competition format, the win won’t mean much if the team drops another bout with the scrappy Seals. Needing to get back to the .500 mark as the mid-season point quickly approaches, the Mammoth will look to grind out a tough win on the road Sunday in looking to right the ship and get back to 4-4 on the season.

For all of the talk about the new and improved Unified Standings helping to keep the schedule spicy, Sunday’s contest already represents the third of four instances in which the Mammoth will face off with a team for the second time this season, with a looming April 5 date against the Buffalo Bandits inside the LOUD HOUSE marking the fourth and final repeat. Able to secure the regular season series (2-0) over Vancouver last weekend, Colorado dropped its first two games of the campaign to the Georgia Swarm (0-2) before losing its first matchup of the season against Buffalo, 12-8. With San Diego posting an identical 12-8 deficit over the Mammoth the following weekend during a showdown at Ball Arena, Colorado will look to even the series at 1-1 when the team travels west for a rare Sunday showdown inside Pechanga Arena.

With the squad returning to Ball Arena on Friday, Feb. 23 for a showdown against MVP candidate Jeff Teat and the New York Riptide during the organization’s fan-favorite RUMBLE at the LOUD HOUSE, the Mammoth will first need to endure three more games on the road, with matchups looming in San Diego, Panther City (Fort Worth, Texas) and Albany, New York.

For the first time all season, each of the NLL’s 15 teams will participate in a game in the same weekend, with the Calgary Roughnecks being the only team to double down in Week 10, starting with a showdown against the New York Riptide Friday night and ending with a Saturday night bout with the Toronto Rock (with both games being played in Calgary).

A brief look at the league standings shows three teams separating themselves from the pack early, with the Albany FireWolves (6-1), Toronto Rock (5-1) and San Diego Seals (5-2) serving as the league’s teams to meet or surpass the five-win mark. The next two teams have been heading in opposite directions, with the Buffalo Bandits (4-3) finding success in three out of their last four games, while the Georgia Swarm (4-4) have dropped three-straight since beginning their year with a hot 4-1 start.

And then … well, that’s where the fun starts, as the next five teams (Halifax, Panther City, Rochester, New York, Colorado) bring three wins into their respective Week 10 matchups. Furthering the early chaos as teams around the league begin to forecast a playoff picture, four of the remaining five teams (Calgary, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Vancouver) sit just one game back, as each of the organizations have two wins to their name. The (1-4) Saskatchewan Rush currently occupy the No. 15 spot, but even a few games back, they are just one of six teams to have logged more goals than allowed goals against, so anything is possible for the black and green contingent. The same could be said for any of the league’s talented teams, though.

Representing the final of eight Week 10 games and the league’s only game taking place on Sunday night, the well-known rivals will meet for the second time in four weeks, with the Seals looking to solidify a spot atop the NLL standings and the Mammoth attempting to climb the ladder en route to bettering its odds for another postseason berth.

Sunday afternoon’s battle against the San Diego Seals is set to begin at 4 p.m. MT inside Pechanga Arena, thus representing Colorado’s fourth away contest road of the season and second-straight on the road. Fans can catch the team’s eighth showdown of the year via the national broadcast on ESPNU, stream the matchup live on ESPN+ and stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com and Colorado Mammoth social media channels for game highlights, postgame recaps and beyond!

Last Time They Met

With the Seals picking up a 12-8 victory over the Mammoth just four weeks ago inside Ball Arena, it was San Diego forward Austin Staats who began the game by producing a natural hat trick throughout the first six and a half minutes of play. While Connor Robinson was able to get one back for the good guys, the Seals answered back with three-straight as the contest bled into the second quarter. Zed Williams, Eli McLaughlin and Connor Kelly added themselves to the scoresheet prior to the half, but it was the Seals who enjoyed an 8-4 advantage at half.

Just 66 seconds into the third quarter, Liger recorded his second of the night, but Colorado eventually allowed San Diego to go on another three-goal run en route to establishing a massive 11-5 lead. Able to provide a bit of a comeback effort throughout the remainder of the contest, netting three in a row (Wardle, McLaughlin, Robinson), 51 completed another hat-trick effort, but it was the Seals who exited the contest with a four-goal win and early regular season series advantage. McLaughlin paced Mammoth scorers with six points (3g, 3a), while Robinson (2g, 3a), Williams (1g, 2a) and Connor Kelly (1g, 2a) rounded out the team’s top offensive efforts.

Leading the Way

After scoring a contest-best 10 points (5g, 5a) during the big win over the Warriors, Eli McLaughlin has extended his team-high campaign total to 39 points (18g, 21a), which ranks as the 10th most points produced by any player so far this season. Zooming in closer, his 18 goals scored keep him ranked beside Josh Byrne, Connor Fields, Ryan Smith and Ryan Benesch at the fifth-highest mark in the NLL, while his 21 assists have him tied with several players for the 15th-best total. Seemingly able to find twine and connect with teammates at his controllable will last weekend inside his hometown venue of Rogers Arena, McLaughlin now leads teammate Connor Robinson, who’s turned in a quality 29 points (10g, 19a) by 10 points as the British Columbia natives enjoyed putting on a show for family and friends in the team’s last out. Defenseman Robert Hope, though finally held off the score sheet, continues to pace a majority of defensive categories this week, with his team-high 51 loose balls, 10 caused turnovers and 11 blocked shots serve as team benchmarks through Week 9. Faceoff specialist Tim Edwards also finds himself ranked with the sixth-most faceoff wins in the league (104) and joins the following players in leading the charge so far, including:

Points: 39 (Eli McLaughlin)

Goals: 18 (Eli McLaughlin)

Assists: 21 (Eli McLaughlin)

Loose Balls: 51 (Robert Hope)

Caused Turnovers: 10 (Robert Hope)

Penalty Minutes: 25 (Jordan Gilles)

Blocked Shots: 11 (Robert Hope)

Faceoff Wins: 104 (Tim Edwards)

Consistency is Key

While captain Robert Hope’s six-game point streak came to a conclusion Friday night in Vancouver, bringing a quality seven points (0g, 7a) into the matchup, he continued to fuel the transition game while getting the rock to the boys up front. Arguably the best the team has looked all season, Colorado is typically firing on all cylinders when they are passing well as a team. From D to O and from left to right once the O-zone is established (and back left, and back right, and back left last weekend …), passing made the biggest difference in last weekend’s affair. Tying his best statistical performance of the season while continuing to get guys involved, forward Tyson Gibson produced five points (2g, 3a), including a pair of markers for the third time this season and a trio of assists for the second. Unafraid to test Warriors’ goaltenders’ Aaron Bold and Aden Walsh, Gibson looked comfortable out on the turf Friday. Now tied with sharpshooter and fellow righty Connor Kelly at 21 points on the season (7g, 14a), albeit the opposite stat line as his floor partner (14g, 7a), the pair joins the following players in continuing to appear on the scoresheet, including:

Eli McLaughlin: (2g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 2a), (3g, 3a), (2g, 4a), (5g, 5a) = 39 points (18g, 21a)

Connor Robinson: (0g, 2a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 6a), (1g, 4a) = 29 points (10g, 19a)

Connor Kelly: (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (4g, 0a), (1g, 1a) = 21 points (14g, 7a)

Tyson Gibson: (1g, 4a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (0g, 2a), (0g, 2a), (1g, 0a), (2g, 3a) = 21 points (7g, 14a)

Zed Williams: (0g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 1a) = 17 points (7g, 10a)

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

Star Power

Seven games into the 2023-24 campaign and Wes Berg appears to very much be in MVP form, now with a team-high 43 points (16g, 27a) as he continues to position his Seals squad for another postseason run. Recording a game-high seven points (1g, 6a) when San Diego last traveled to Denver, Berg excels at various roles on the turf, and is typically happy just to be out there, even when letting some of his talented teammates do the heavy lifting.

Picking up a quality five points (3g, 2a) including a first-quarter natural hat trick four weeks back inside Ball Arena, Austin Staats is known for two things: Scrappiness and stinging corners. Thankfully for the Seals, he seems to have found a bit of peace out there this year, having racked up only eight penalty minutes in seven games. Up to 40 points (19g, 21a) including a team-high 21 goals, it’ll very much be Staats Berg and a pair of aging veterans who have each seen their totals trickle lower due to embracing relinquished roles. Still producing welcomed assist numbers, Curtis Dickson (15g, 15a) and Dane Dobbie (8g, 21a) are still out there doing it. Just not at the rate teams around the league are worth seeing.

Tre Leclaire has enjoyed a decent start to his season, now with 24 points (8g, 16a), while Kyle Jackson’s 19 points (9g, 10a) represent the final total for any Seals players to reach double-digits so far. Figuring things out as he goes, goaltender Chris Origlieri is set to bring a 5-2 record, 10.00 goals-against average and .800 save percentage into his eighth appearance of the season as the Seals look to join the Albany FireWolves in the six-win column.

Get in the Game

Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Sunday’s Feb. 4 matchup against the San Diego Seals can be viewed nationally on ESPNU 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 RUMBLE at the LOUD HOUSE matchup against the New York Riptide Feb. 23 at Ball Arena remain available!

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