The Mammoth managed to split its back-to-back series last weekend by securing a dramatic 17-16 overtime victory over the Vancouver Warriors March 18 at Ball Arena before dropping a physical 9-7 decision to the San Diego Seals at Pechanga Arena March 19.
Colorado now enters its Week 17 matchup with another Western Conference rival when the teams battle to claim the series advantage Saturday, as the squads split decisions with the Mammoth capturing an 8-7 win Dec. 17, while Panther City was most recently victorious, as the rookie club earned a 20-14 victory two weeks ago at Ball Arena.
If the NLL postseason were to begin this weekend, Colorado and Vancouver would be slated as the two and three seeds in the Western Conference and would meet each other in the first round of playoffs, hosted at Ball Arena. Due to the league’s new playoff format, Panther City is currently outside the playoff picture, looking in.
Colorado hits the road with a 7-5 record through 12 games, ranked second in the west and fifth overall, despite dropping four of its last six opportunities. Seemingly able to match any opponents play style and compete in a variety of game paces, Colorado has witnessed both 7 and 20-goal efforts from Panther City this year and will look to lean on a combination of goaltending standout Dillon Ward and the team’s high-powered offense to get the job done Saturday.
Mammoth fans will be able to stream Saturday’s matchup, and all Mammoth games this season, on ESPN+! This weekend’s matchup will also nationally on ESPNU.
After securing an important 17-16 overtime comeback against the Vancouver Warriors Friday, a game which featured 13-point (1g, 12a) and 11-point (5g, 6a) performances from Mammoth goal-scoring extraordinaires Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin, Colorado completed the quick turnaround by travelling west to San Diego Saturday morning to faceoff with another conference foe.
A contest in which San Diego took the lead early and never looked back, Colorado displayed its team-wide resilience by limiting the conference-leading Seals to 9 goals, with the last being an empty-net conversion. The contest, which took place in front of at least a few thousand fans, proved to be a potential playoff preview between the West’s leading squads and featured a healthy amount of penalty minutes, attempted glove-dropping (Zed didn’t let that happen, really) and competitive play throughout.
Colorado initially spotted the home squad an early lead, but Zed Williams was able to even the contest a few minutes later. After outscoring the Mammoth 3-1 in the opening period, San Diego matched Colorado’s three second-period tallies to bring a 6-4 score into the break. The low-scoring second half saw a breakaway Joey Cupido goal followed by a Zack Greer conversion before Williams logged his second of the night to bring the Mammoth back within one at the end of the third. Ryan Lee buried a nice goal to begin the fourth, but a power-play marker from Austin Staats at the 7:32 mark ultimately represented the game-winning goal, while Wes Berg logged an empty-net goal to solidify the 9-7 final.
Ryan Lee (1g, 2a) paced Mammoth scoring efforts Saturday, while Zed Williams (2g, 1a), Connor Robinson (2g, 0a), Chris Wardle (0g, 2a) and Eli McLaughlin (0g, 2a) headlined efforts in the low-scoring contest. Defensemen Joey Cupido (1g, 0a) and Anthony Joaquim (1g, 0a) each added transition tallies in the defeat, while goaltender Dillon Ward put on another clinic in net, stopping 42-of-50 on the night. Seals netminder Frank Scigliano also submitted a stellar performance, logging 42 saves on 49 shots against with a nearly identical workload.
Ryan Lee & The Consisten-Zs:
Another game, another Most Valuable Player-caliber performance from Mammoth forward Ryan Lee Friday, as the forward posted a team and career-best 13 points (1g, 12a) before following the effort up with three more (1g, 2a) Saturday in San Diego. The RIT product continues to pace Mammoth players in assists (53) and points (81) since recording a combined 16 points (3g, 13a) during last weekend’s back-to-back. Lee’s 6.75 points-per-game rank second-highest among players to have played in 10-plus games and third-most in the NLL overall heading into Week 17, as the fourth-year forward continues to consistently produce alongside elite NLL scoring talent, including:
Dhane Smith: 7.45 PPG (82 in 11 GP)
Jeff Teat: 7.11 PPG (64 in 9 GP)
Ryan Lee: 6.75 PPG (81 in 12 GP)
Lyle Thompson: 6.15 PPG (80 in 13 GP)
Callum Crawford: 6.09 PPG (67 in 11 GP)
Through Colorado’s first 12 games this season, Ryan Lee has logged a goal in all but one contest (0g, 9a 2/5 vs. Calgary) and joins teammate Eli McLaughlin as the only players to have recorded at least one point in all 12 contests for the Mammoth this season. After surpassing his previous career-high point total earlier this year (60 points in 13 GP), Lee will continue to build on his career-best 81 points utilizing the talents of his teammates and his own alike. With the recent departure of forward Sam LeClair, who logged at least one point in each of his four games played with the organization, forwards Eli McLaughlin and Zed Williams join Lee as the team’s three players to have recorded at least one point in each game played:
Ryan Lee (5g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (2g, 10a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 9a), (2g, 2a), (5g, 2a), (2g, 4a), (3g, 2a), (1g, 12a), (1g, 2a) = (28g, 53a)
Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 4a), (1g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 0a), (1g, 4a), (2g, 2a), (3g, 4a), (5g, 6a), (0g, 2a) = (25g, 34a)
Zed Williams (2g, 1a) (0g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 3a), (0g, 4a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 4a), (2g, 1a), (2g, 1a) = (12g, 20a)
The Mammoth approaches Week 17 of NLL play with impressive special teams’ efforts, boasting the league’s highest shorthanded goal count (9) and the NLL’s third-best penalty kill percentage (66.7%), while Colorado’s 13 power-play goals allowed continue to represent the fewest this season. Having recorded 132 penalty minutes in 12 matchups, which qualifies as the third-fewest for any team so far this season, the Mammoth heads into Saturday’s contest against Panther City with the third-lowest average of penalty minutes per-game with 11-per. As the team continues to produce as collective offensive and defensive units, the Mammoth roster features several individuals who rank among league-leaders in multiple categories, including:
Goals: 30 (T4th) Connor Robinson
Assists: 53 (2nd) Ryan Lee
Points: 81 (3rd) Ryan Lee
Points-Per-Game: 6.75 (3rd – 2nd among players with 10+ GP) Ryan Lee
Shots on Goal: 129 (4th) Ryan Lee
Loose Balls: 103 (11th) Robert Hope
Caused Turnovers: 20 (T6th) Robert Hope
Shorthanded Goals: 3 (T2nd) Connor Robinson
Shorthanded Assists: 3 (1st) Chris Wardle
Game-Winning Goals: 4 (T1st) Eli McLaughlin
Save Percentage: .809 (3rd) Dillon Ward
Goals-Against Average: 10.26 (6th) Dillon Ward
*All rankings updated through Week 16 of NLL play
New Kids on the Block:
Since beginning its inaugural season with a 1-8 record, Panther City has found waves of success throughout late February and the entire month of March, as the club has secured victories in its last four contests over Calgary, Colorado, Saskatchewan and Vancouver. Starting the NLL’s jam-packed Week 17 of action in fourth place of the West and ranked 10th overall, the Texas-based club now realistically has a shot to earn a spot in this year’s postseason fun. That said, all six teams in the West remain eligible to qualify, with San Diego being the only team confidently positioned to secure a home playoff game.
As the organization has continued its successful four-game winning streak, the club has witnessed its youthful roster flourish, as the NLL’s newest franchise features three rookies who currently qualify as top-12 scorers throughout Week 16 in Patrick Dodds (2nd), Nathan Grenon (9th) and Dean Fairall (12th).
Dodds’ first-year efforts, and 63 points (20g, 43a) rank as the second-highest among NLL rookies this season, fuel the team’s five-on-five success and have also provided a spark for the organization’s power-play units. The forward ranks among rookie leaders with five power-play goals (T3rd), eight extra-man helpers (T2nd) and 13 power-play points (T2nd) and has also recorded the game-winning goal in two of the team’s five victories during its inaugural campaign. Grenon and former Mammoth NLL Entry Draft selection Jordan Trottier have racked up the most and second-most penalty minutes among first-year players, with 18 and 17 penalty minutes recorded, respectively. Despite only recording playing time in five games this season, rookie Dean Fairall has recorded 23 points (11g, 12a), including a seven-point (5g, 2a) performance the last time Panther City and Colorado met.
First-year defenseman Josh Medeiros has recorded eight points (6g, 2a) in 12 games with the squad, ranking third among rookies with 62 loose balls and remaining tied for second (with Robert Hope) among NLL players with 16 blocked shots. While forward Will Malcom’s rookie season was technically spent with Colorado, the second-year forward has complemented the team’s young roster and has recorded 61 points (21g, 40a), which qualifies tied for 12th-most among NLL players.
Panther City’s roster features two players who’ve played in all 13 of the team’s games, as the organization has executed a variety roster moves, free agent signings, trades and beyond, including dealing veteran forward Ryan Benesch to the Albany FireWolves since the teams first met in December. Comparatively, eight of Colorado’s field players have played in each of the team’s contests this year, with goaltender Dillon Ward qualifying as the 10th to log time in all 12 contests. The “rookie” club will look to continue its win streak while hosting the Mammoth for the second time ever Saturday night as Dillon Ward and the squad get back to work down south.
Get in the Game
Tickets to Colorado’s April 2 Military Appreciation Night matchup against the Buffalo Bandits, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be viewed on Altitude TV and streamed live via ESPN+.