The Colorado Mammoth secured a clutch 12-5 win over the Vancouver Warriors Saturday night inside Ball Arena as the Loud House celebrated Country Music Night in thrilling fashion.
Keeping its playoff hopes alive by recording the victory, Colorado also saw the Georgia Swarm defeat the Saskatchewan Rush 13-9, effectively making the Rush’s road to the postseason much more difficult. Adding to the spicy West Conference playoff push drama, the Calgary Roughnecks posted a matching 12-5 win over Panther City Lacrosse Club, which currently occupies the third spot in the West with a 9-7 record.
Now just one game back from the second-year squad, with the regular season series advantage in hand, Colorado will look to surpass the black and purple squad next weekend with a win against its known rival, the San Diego Seals.
Former Mammoth forward Kyle Killen got the contest’s scoring started, coming high over a pick and beating Colorado netminder Dillon Ward down low three and a half minutes into the game.
Just five seconds into the Mammoth’s first power-play opportunity of the night, forward Eli McLaughlin sent a powerful strike from the top of the set past Vancouver goaltender Aaron Bold halfway through the opening quarter to tie the game at one each.
But just over a minute later, the Warriors regained its early lead with an extra-man conversion of its own. After the team was called for an illegal substitution, captain Robert Hope was flagged for cross-checking, quickly setting up a must-score 5-on-3 chance for Vancouver, which they took advantage of as veteran Shawn Evans quickly found twine.
Despite a lengthy review and never seeing the ball actually cross the crease, the visiting team was awarded its third goal of the night due to a lack of conclusive evidence upon review combining with the original call on the field of a good goal, granting Vancouver a 3-1 lead to round out the first 15.
Tyson Gibson earned one back for the good guys two and a half minutes into the second quarter, in transition style, as defenseman Jordan Gilles and forward Zed Williams helped fuel the effort, starting at the opposite end of the floor.
Unfortunately for the sold out crowd, the Warriors had another quick answer, as Chase Scanlan was able to beat Ward 70 seconds later to establish a 4-2 contest.
Seconds after Vancouver drew a penalty for blatantly running into Ward behind the net, forward Ryan Lee instantly cashed in on the 6-on-5 opportunity to bring Colorado back within one midway through the second.
The Warriors eventually took a 4-3 lead into the break, but the Mammoth were able to knot the game at fours four minutes into the third, courtesy of a quick strike from Gibson, his second of the night.
During the team’s next possession, just 17 seconds later, Dylan Kinnear saw an unguarded Williams outside the crease, who accepted the pass and sent a low shot past Bold, claiming Colorado’s first goal of the night.
After a quiet start to the night, the magician came to life with just under six minutes to play in the third, coming around a screen to his left, Connor Robinson notched his 29th of the season as the defending champs were now up two.
Joining the scoring party and extending Colorado’s streak, forward Ty Thompson completed a transition opportunity one minute into the final 15, granting Colorado a 7-4 lead. The boys wouldn’t settle for three though, as Williams picked up his second of the game just 39 seconds later after gaining some separation outside the crease and blasting one past Bold, now five in a row for the Mammoth.
Making it six straight, McLaughlin finished an elite effort by charging the crease and quickly sending a bouncer past Bold as the Loud House exploded with approval.
Killen finally stopped the bleeding for Vancouver, converting a dunk goal over Ward’s left shoulder, with eight minutes to play.
With Vancouver pulling their netminder with just under five minutes to play, McLaughlin was the benefactor of a field lengthy passes, as 51 completed his seventh hat trick of the season with an empty-net goal. He wasn’t done though. After things got a bit chippy in the last few minutes of action, Vancouver found a few of its player in the penalty box, while McLaughlin found himself standing at the middle of the field for a penalty shot opportunity.
Naturally, he scored, recording his fourth of the night as Colorado soared to an 11-5 lead late.
Still not enough for the Mammoth though, as Kinnear notched a tally with two minutes left, his seventh of the campaign.
After defeating the 2022 champions just two weeks ago north of the border, Vancouver dropped a 12-5 final inside the Loud House.
Named the evening’s first start, goaltender Dillon Ward held the Warriors to one goal in the final 41 minutes of play, and just five throughout 60 minutes of play as the All-World talent was on his A-game. Saving 38-of-43 shots on goal, Ward and the stout defensive unit looked good Saturday night.
Eli McLaughlin led the scoring charge for Colorado with five points (4g, 1a) and continues to pace the team overall with 66 points (33g, 33a), while Zed Williams chipped in four (2g, 2a). Ryan Lee (1g, 2a), Connor Robinson (1g, 2a) and Ty Thompson (1g, 2a) each recorded three points for the Mammoth, while Jordan Gilles (0g, 2a), Josh Sullivan (0g, 2a), Tyson Gibson (2g, 0a) and Dylan Kinnear each contributed two points.
Advancing to 8-7 on the season, the Mammoth will host the San Diego Seals Friday, April 14 at Ball Arena during Fan Appreciation Night as the team looks to earn a postseason berth via the NLL’s March to May. Limited tickets to Friday’s regular season finale inside the Loud House remain available, but after selling out Saturday’s rematch against the Warriors, they won’t last long!