COLORADO MAMMOTH (9-7) VS. SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (6-10)
SAT APRIL 22 | SASKTEL CENTRE
7:30 P.M. MT FACEOFF
ALT 2 | ESPN+
After picking up a huge 15-14 victory over the San Diego Seals last weekend on Fan Appreciation Night at Ball Arena, Colorado has now won its past three contests in advancing to 9-7 on the season. Getting some help from the Toronto Rock (12-7 W over Philadelphia Wings) and the Halifax Thunderbirds (15-11 W over Saskatchewan Rush), the Mammoth rounded out Week 20 in the NLL by clinching a postseason berth for the 11th-straight season.
The chippy West Conference battle saw a combined 29 goals and 60 penalty minutes, including a sock trick from Seals’ forward Wes Berg and hat tricks from both Eli McLaughlin and Connor Robinson despite quality performances from both Frank Scigliano and Dillon Ward. Becoming the only team this season to defeat the Seals, Calgary Roughnecks and Buffalo Bandits so far, the three teams the defending champions surpassed during its successful run and all potential opponents for this year’s postseason,
RELATED: Mammoth Edge Seals, Finish 7-2 Inside the Loud House with 15-14 Win
A game of several lengthy scoring streaks, San Diego allowed the home squad to establish an early 2-1 lead, but went on to log four-consecutive tallies throughout the first quarter. Eventually holding a 7-3 lead with 16 minutes of game play logged, things changed for the now 12-4 Seals, as Colorado’s offense sprung to life. Seeing goals from six different players (Connor Robinson, Josh Sullivan, John Lintz, Tyson Gibson, Eli McLaughlin and Ryan Lee), the Mammoth fought back to take an 8-7 advantage to the break.
Marking the sixth-straight, Lee got the defending champs back on the board just 21 seconds into the third quarter before seeing a Kevin Crowley equalizer make it a one-goal game again. In an offensive explosion, Colorado would net three goals in 93 seconds, with the first strike coming from Ty Thompson at the 4:04 mark, the second at 5:16 from Zed Williams and the last coming from one Connor Robinson 5:37 into the second half. Austin Staats and Williams exchanged scoring conversions later in the third before the Seals went on a dramatic five-goal streak.
Earning a hat trick in five minutes of play, Wes Berg looked unstoppable on three of the five, and managed to contribute assists on the other two as San Diego suddenly had a 14-13 lead. McLaughlin eventually responded with a sick goal to knot the game at 14s, only to score the game-winner with five minutes to play. Lee paced Mammoth scorers with eight points (1g, 7a), while McLaughlin (3g, 3a), Williams (2g, 3a) and Robinson (3g, 1a) enjoyed fruitful performances. Faceoff specialist Tim Edwards moved into fourth all-time in the single season franchise record book for faceoffs won (239) after winning 19-of-31 draws amidst logging a career-best three-point (0g, 3a) outing in the transition game, all while adding a team-best 12 loose balls. Nothing quiet about that stat line from Timmy Secrets.
After tying its season-best three-game win streak with the victory, Colorado will look to continue to play some of its best ball of the year while making it four-straight Saturday when the team travels to Saskatoon for a matchup with the 6-10 Saskatchewan Rush. Dropping its last two contests to a rare pair of East Conference foes, the Rush were officially eliminated from postseason contention for the second-straight year, as both Colorado and Panther City (10-7) clinched their spots. While it’s likely that Saskatchewan still shows up with a quality effort for its home fanbase, the mystery lies within where the West Conference seeding will end up, as no team has yet to lock up a spot. San Diego and Calgary have both guaranteed home games, but the No. 1 and No. 2 seed have yet to be decided and in corresponding fashion, Panther City and Calgary are slated to play before everything is said and done, which will play a large part in what happens between Panther City and Mammoth for No. 3 and No. 4 seeding. Regardless, Colorado will hit the road for the first round of postseason action.
As the team’s overall health is getting close to 100%, the Mammoth didn’t make a gameday transaction for the first time in what seems like months, but still await veteran forward Chris Wardle’s return. With Evan Downey taking a big shot Friday night, we’ll stay tuned to see what his availability will be and with two games remaining in the season, both against known rivals in the Rush and Seals, Colorado will hope to round out the regular season without any additional setbacks.
Mammoth fans can stay tuned to coloradomammoth.com, the team’s social media channels and NLL.com’s transaction page for the team’s latest transactions, news and beyond heading into this weekend’s contest against the Warriors.
Saturday’s matchup north of the border represents the third of three regular season matchups with the Rush and the second to be hosted inside SaskTel Centre. The regular season series tiebreaker is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. MT and can be viewed on Altitude 2 and ESPN+.
Last Time They Played
The Colorado Mammoth secured an 11-10 overtime win inside of Ball Arena three months ago when the defending champions last squared up with the green and black contingency. The win, which represented Colorado’s third in a row, was a welcomed result after seeing the Rush post a massive 18-6 victory when the two organizations met in Week 1 of the 2022-23 campaign. A rare extra session for the Mammoth this season, the home team was able to get the crucial overtime goal and even the regular season series at 1-1.
Essentially a back-and-forth battle for the entire 60 minutes of play, Colorado outscored Saskatchewan 3-2 in the opening quarter, but it was the Rush which outpaced the Mammoth, 5-3, in the second to bring a tied 6-6 matchup in the break. Apart from a pair of consecutive tallies from Colorado midway through the third, the teams exchanged scoring conversions for the remainder of the evening. Eventually providing free lacrosse for the Loud House attendees, it was veteran free agent signing Rhys Duch who scored the game-winning goal on the back side to clinch the win.
Rhys Duch paced Mammoth scorers with seven points (1g, 6a), while Connor Robinson recorded five (4g, 1a) and Zed Williams enjoyed a hat trick evening (3g, 0a). Forward Brett McIntyre managed a five-point (1g, 4a) outing as well, while Eli McLaughlin (1g, 3a) and Chris Wardle (0g, 4a) rounded out scoring efforts for Colorado. Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward racked up 44 saves while limiting the conference rival to 10 scores on the evening.
Leading the Way
While he saw his fellow left-handed operator in Connor Robinson meet the 60-point (32g, 28a) mark Friday night against the Seals, it’s veteran forward Eli McLaughlin who continues to sit atop the scoring charts for Colorado. Racking up six points (3g, 3a) last weekend, including a team-best eighth hat trick effort, McLaughlin essentially picked up the season exactly where he left it during last year’s postseason run: with absolute domination. Even better, the talented scorer understands the importance of keeping the crowd engaged. Regularly seen celebrating with fans at either end of the floor, No. 51 had his arms in the air accepting praise from the rowdy Loud House a combined 10 times during the team’s final three-game homestand. Now, just 11 points from tying last year’s career-best figures of 83 points (38g, 45a), he’ll have to continue to depend on Connor Robinson and Zed Williams, who round out the team’s Top 3 scoring threats so far. Despite only appearing in six games while dealing with an injury earlier this year, All-Pro forward Ryan Lee has recorded an impressive 39 points (6g, 33a) in limited playing time. Averaging 6.5 points per-game, right where he was at throughout his franchise-best 119-point season last year, the team’s quarterback truly operates on a different level. Seeing the play, and defensive set, a few seconds ahead of the curve, Lee has continued to build up some resilience dealing with his knee, and will look to stay healthy prior to next month’s NLL Quarterfinals action.
Continuing to dominate at the circle, faceoff specialist (he’s doing it all lately, honestly) Tim Edwards secured 19-of-31 draw opportunities last weekend against San Diego, but in a game where every conversion mattered, perhaps it was his career-high three points (0g, 3a) that shined brightest for Timmy Secrets. Now 239-for-398 (60%) on the season, he ranks fourth amongst NLL draw men in both overall faceoff wins and faceoff win percentage, and managed to add a team-best 12 loose balls last weekend as well. With 127 on the year, he trails current team leader and Captain, Robert Hope, who’s secured 136 in 16 games. Defenseman Warren Jeffrey leads the caused turnover charge with 16 and paces the squad with 32 penalty minutes as well.
Consistency is Key
Only five of 15 teams across the NLL have three 30-goal scorers on its roster so far this season, and if Eli McLaughlin, Zed Williams and Connor Robinson can continue to fire on all cylinders, they’ll continue to help the defending champions rise to the peaks off another extended playoff run. While each of the talented forwards have been able to enjoy success as finishers and passers alike, it’s the selfless nature of the entire unit which allows the personnel to get the job done. After combining for 15 points (8g, 7a), including more than half of the team’s goals during the team’s last matchup against San Diego, the trio has proven they’re able to find space against any goaltender around the league. Bringing a career-best 62 points (33g, 29a) into Saturday’s contest against Saskatchewan, Williams continues to complement the talent of Ryan Lee on the right side and joins the following Mammoth players to record at least one point in each contest played this season, including:
Eli McLaughlin (0g, 5a), (4g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (1g, 3a) (3g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (2g, 1a), (4g, 2a), (3g, 1a), (0g, 3a), (3g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 5a), (4g, 1a), (3g, 3a) = 72 points (36g, 36a)
Zed Williams (2g, 0a), (3g, 5a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 2a), (2g, 1a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 1a), (3g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (4g, 3a), (3g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 3a) = 62 points (33g, 29a)
Connor Robinson (1g, 0a), (0g, 1a), (5g, 1a), (4g, 1a), (2g, 2a), (4g, 3a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (0g, 3a), (3g, 0a), (4g, 3a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (3g, 1a) = 60 points (32g, 28a)
Ryan Lee (2g, 8a), (0g, 6a), (0g, 7a), (2g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 7a) = 39 points (6g, 33a)
Tyson Gibson (0g, 2a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (1g, 0a), (0g, 2a), (2g, 0a), (1g, 1a) = 16 points (6g, 10a)
Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 1a), (1g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a), (1g, 0a) = 15 points (7g, 8a)
Get in the Game
Mammoth games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+. Saturday’s game against the Rush can be viewed locally on Altitude 2 and ESPN+. Mammoth fans can keep an eye on coloradomammoth.com and the team’s social media channels for the latest news, transactions and organizational updates throughout the 2022-23 NLL season.