After picking up its second-consecutive road victory against the Georgia Swarm Saturday, the Mammoth will look to keep it rolling in Week 6 against a West Division opponent as Colorado welcomes the Vancouver Warriors to Pepsi Center for a 7:30 p.m. MT faceoff Saturday, Jan. 4. The matchup is the NLL’s featured Game of the Week and will be available for fans locally on Altitude 2 or to stream free of charge via Bleacher Report Live or on the NLL’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Despite dropping an 8-9 decision to the Saskatchewan Rush during the team’s season opener, the Mammoth have bounced back with two road victories and established its characteristic resilience on the defensive end. After limiting the productive offenses of Saskatchewan (9), Calgary (7) and Georgia (11) to a combined 27 goals in its first three matches, the Mammoth will face another potent group of scoring talent Saturday, headlined by forwards Mitch Jones (9g, 13), Keegan Bal (4g, 12a) and Logan Schuss (5g, 3a).
Colorado enters its second home game of the season as one of the league’s four teams to tote a 2-1 record, while Vancouver is set to make its first road appearance of the campaign after dropping 2-of-3 matches at home to begin the season.
2018-19 Series Recap
Colorado captured the regular season series between the clubs last season, securing two of three meetings and outscoring the Warriors with a combined 35-22 series goal total. The Mammoth dropped an 11-10 overtime decision during the series opener in Vancouver Jan. 26 before picking up both games in a back-to-back series with an 11-7 win in Vancouver March 22 and a 14-4 victory March 23 at Pepsi Center. Dillon Ward stopped a combined 80-of-98 shots in his two starts against Vancouver, while forwards Eli McLaughlin (7g, 13a) and Ryan Lee (5g, 7a) led the series offensively with a combined 32 points in the series.
After a quiet offensive start to the season for the Mammoth, forwards Jacob Ruest, Ryan Lee and company have heated up in Colorado’s last two games by locating the net and finding teammates to create the team’s primary scoring efforts thus far. Tied for 15th among league scorers and co-team leaders with 14 points, Ruest (10g, 4a) and Lee (4g, 10a) continue to pace the Mammoth offensively with secondary scoring help from Chris Wardle (4g, 7a) and Kyle Killen (3g, 5a). Defenseman Robert Hope has led the loose ball charge thus far and joins the noted forwards among league-leaders:
Goals: Jacob Ruest, 10 (2nd)
Power-Play Goals: Jacob Ruest, 5 (T1st)
Power-Play Assists: Ryan Lee, 5 (T3rd)
Loose Balls: Robert Hope, 28 (T7th)
After securing his first career NLL goal during Colorado’s 8-7 overtime win over Calgary Dec. 21, Will Malcom has quietly contributed six points (2g, 4a) in two games and has provided some welcomed secondary scoring for the Mammoth. Malcom currently ranks among rookie league leaders in five key categories, including:
Goals: 2 (T9th)
Assists: 4 (T6th)
Points: 6 (T7th)
Power-Play Goals: 1 (T2nd)
Shots on Goal: 11 (T6th)
After leading the Mammoth to its first win of the campaign against Calgary, Dillon Ward dipped back into his bag of tricks to pull out some amazing saves Saturday en route to stopping 40-of-51 shots on goal for his second win of the young campaign. Ward has continued to challenge opponents by protecting his crease and limiting angles for approaching attackers while executing some precise passes in transition that have set up some key breakaway opportunities for the Mammoth offense.
Facing an opponent which likes to register a large amount of shots on net, Ward and the Mammoth defense are likely to see a good amount of action when Vancouver visits Pepsi Center Saturday evening as the goaltender looks to surpass 3,700 career saves with Colorado. During his hot start to the campaign, Ward currently ranks among the NLL’s elite goaltenders in several categories, including:
Goals-Against Average: 8.65 (5th)
Save Percentage: 0.838 (3rd)
Saves: 140 (3rd overall – 1st among goaltenders w/ 3 GP)
Minutes: 187:11 (4th overall – 1st among goaltenders w/ 3 GP)
Shoot the Rock
Vancouver enters Week 6 ranked fourth among NLL teams with 171 shots and ranks first among teams that have only played in three contests. Averaging 57 shots per game, expect Vancouver to frequently execute a speedy transition game and take advantage of odd-man rushes in order to produce quality scoring chances against Colorado.
Forward Mitch Jones, who ranks second in the league in points, sits tied with Keegan Bal to rank seventh in league with 38 shots on goal. Logan Schuss (30) and Jordan McBride (26) round out the top four most frequent shooters for the Warriors and have combined for 132 shots on the year. As a point of reference, the Mammoth have logged a combined 183 shots through its first three contests, point being, Vancouver likes to shoot the rock.
After allowing 63 shots to begin the season against Saskatchewan, Colorado has tightened up its transition and defensive games to bring opposing team shot totals down to 53 (vs. Calgary) and 51 (vs. Georgia) in its past two contests and will look to keep Vancouver to 50 or less shots Saturday evening. Colorado holds a 2-1 record this season when recording more than 42 shots on goal, and after finding recent success against Georgia while posting 13 goals, expect the Mammoth to come out firing as well. Colorado will look to stay sound defensively and limit transition chances for the Warriors while establishing early shot opportunities of its own and converting on power-play chances.
Tickets to Colorado’s Jan. 4 matchup against the Vancouver Warriors and all Mammoth home games can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth home games can be viewed on Altitude or Altitude 2 through the 2019-20 season.