Colorado dropped its first contest since Dec. 11 last weekend, as the Calgary Roughnecks posted a 9-7 victory effort at the Scotiabank Saddledome last Friday. Despite the loss, the Mammoth enters Week 12 with a 5-2 record and sits in second place of the NLL’s Western Conference, as San Diego took care of business last weekend by defeating Panther City to claim the conference’s top spot. Since picking up wins in both January matchups against the Vancouver Warriors and splitting consecutive February matchups with Calgary, Colorado is set to participate in a home-and-home series with another conference rival this month in the Saskatchewan Rush.
Saskatchewan, who’s begun the season with a 2-5 record, ranks fifth in the West and 12th in the league standings, despite maintaining only a minus-four goal differential (70 GF, 74 GA) in seven contests. The Rush has found itself in several close contests this season, as four of the team’s seven games have been decided by one goal. Both of the organization’s wins this season have come against conference opponents, as Saskatchewan secured victories against the Vancouver Warriors (10-9) and Panther City Lacrosse Club (16-7).
Coming off a seven-goal outing last week, the team’s second-lowest total this season, the Mammoth offense will look to re-establish its dominant stature and improve its efficiency during even-man sets, after leaning heavily on power-play production last weekend. With Ryan Lee missing parts of the first half with an injury, Eli McLaughlin stepped up for the Mammoth, producing a first-half hat trick, but Colorado’s offense failed to produce in the second half, netting only one goal in the contest’s final 30 minutes of play.
Saskatchewan enters Week 12 after dropping a 13-7 matchup to the Vancouver Warriors Feb. 11, the team’s fifth loss of the year. Despite logging the first goal of the contest last weekend, the Rush went on to get outscored 10-2 in the remainder of the first half, allowing Vancouver to register three and then five-consecutive goals in the second quarter alone. The veteran-based squad is set to travel south looking to redeem its slow start to the campaign while meeting a Mammoth team which will also be looking to get back in the win column.
Mammoth fans will be able to stream Sunday’s matchup, and all Mammoth games this season, on ESPN+! This weekend’s matchup will also air locally on Altitude TV.
After stringing together four-consecutive victories this season, the Mammoth dropped its most recent matchup in Calgary after losing faceoff specialist Tim Edwards to injury early in the contest. Colorado allowed Calgary to establish an early two-goal lead Friday, but the Mammoth battled back with three-straight to end the first quarter ahead one. Battling back and forth throughout the second, each team logged three second-quarter markers to take the dramatic half of play into the break.
The Mammoth logged its lone goal of the second half at the 4:44 mark of the third, failing to produce in the final 25-plus minutes of play while allowing the Roughnecks to record three in the second half of Friday’s loss.
Ryan Lee (2g, 2a) and Tyler Digby (1g, 3a) paced Mammoth scoring efforts with four a piece, while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 0a) and Zed Williams (0g, 3a) each added three. Connor Robinson (1g, 0a) logged a second-quarter marker to extend his goal streak to four games and has now scored at least one goal in six-of-seven contests this season. The forward also added a team-best 11 loose balls in the scrappy matchup. Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward stopped 32-of-40 and brings a league-best .819 save percentage into Sunday’s matchup against the Rush.
Ryan Lee & The Consisten-Zs:
In seven contests with the Mammoth this season, forward Ryan Lee paces the Mammoth in assists (31) and points (47) while ranking among league-leaders in numerous categories, establishing himself as a threat quarterbacking and scoring for the squad alike. The fourth-year forward’s 6.71 points-per-game remains tied with Bandits forward Dhane Smith for the second-most in the NLL heading into Week 12, alongside NLL scoring threats in:
Jeff Teat: 7.16 PPG (43 in 6 GP)
Ryan Lee: 6.71 PPG (47 in 7 GP)
Dhane Smith: 6.71 PPG (47 in 7 GP)
Callum Crawford: 6.25 PPG (50 in 8 GP)
Lyle Thompson: 6.11 PPG (55 in 9 GP)
Despite missing nearly a quarter’s worth of action last weekend while being addressed for medical treatment in the locker room, Lee tied Tyler Digby with a team-best four points (2g, 2a) Friday evening. After surpassing his own single-season high of 59 points last season in five less games (60 in 13 GP), the 2018 NLL Entry Draft selection heads into his eighth game of the season 13 points shy of his career-best with 10 contests left in the young season and joins three other Mammoth players who’ve scored at least one point in each game played this season, including:
Ryan Lee (5g, 3a), (1g, 1a), (2g, 3a), (2g, 10a), (4g, 3a), (0g, 9a), (2g, 2a) = (16g, 31a)
Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), (1g, 2a), (1g, 3a), (3g, 4a), (1g, 3a), (2g, 1a), (3g, 0a) = (14g, 16a)
Zed Williams (2g, 1a) (0g, 2a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (1g, 1a), (0g, 3a) = (5g, 9a)
Sam LeClair (3g, 0a), (3g, 1a), (0g, 1a) = (6g, 1a)
Colorado enters Week 12 of NLL play as the only team to have allowed a single-digit shorthanded goal total this season (6) and continues to defend its league-best penalty-kill unit, effectively negating 22-of-28 opportunities to boast a 78.6 kill percentage. Having only recorded 78 penalty minutes in seven contests, tied with Calgary for the fewest this season, the Mammoth have remained committed to being physical, yet disciplined on the back end this season and head into Sunday’s matchup with the third-lowest average of penalty minutes per-game (11.14). Complementary of the team’s early special teams’ units, the Mammoth roster features several individuals who rank among league-leaders in multiple categories, including:
Goals: 17 (T9th) Connor Robinson
Assists: 31 (5th) Ryan Lee
Points: 47 (T4th) Ryan Lee
Points-Per-Game: 6.71 (2nd) Ryan Lee
Loose Balls: 69 (8th) Robert Hope
Shorthanded Goals: 2 (T2nd) Connor Robinson
Shorthanded Assists: 2 (T1st) Robert Hope, Chris Wardle
Game-Winning Goals: 3 (T1st) Eli McLaughlin
Save Percentage: .819 (1st) Dillon Ward
Goals-Against Average: 9.51 (3rd) Dillon Ward
*All rankings updated through Week 11 of NLL play
Modern Day Warrior(s) – Mean, Mean Stride
After a quick glance at the Rush roster, even the average lacrosse fan can recognize a few longtime veterans who have established the Rush as one of the West’s most successful organizations and helped the team capture NLL championships in three-of-four seasons between 2015 and 2018.
Despite the veteran presence, the team has begun the 2021-22 campaign with a 2-5 record after dropping its first two contests (12-11 OTL at Halifax, 11-10 L vs. Calgary). Since picking up a victory in its third game of the season (10-9 W at Vancouver) Dec. 17, the team has dropped three of its last four contests, with its second win of the year coming Jan. 29 against the NLL’s most recent expansion team, Panther City Lacrosse Club, and the club’s third, fourth and fifth losses, respectively, stemming from bouts with the Albany FireWolves, San Diego Seals and Vancouver Warriors.
The Rush’s 2-5 record doesn’t reflect the fact that four of its seven contests have finished as one-goal games, but Saskatchewan was only in front for one of the four. Featuring a healthy mix of scoring threats up front and veteran standouts on the defensive end, the Rush roster presents challenges on multiple fronts.
Saskatchewan’s scoring attack has been headlined thus far by veteran forwards Mark Matthews (11g, 22a) and Robert Church (15g, 16a), but similar to the Mammoth offense, the workload has been regularly distributed between the team’s top five or six threats. Ryan Keenen (5g, 23a), Dan Linter (11g, 5a) and Jeff Shatter (10g, 6a) have enjoyed successful starts to the year on the scoresheet, but haven’t been able to coordinate efforts on the same night to produce as many wins as the group would like. While the team’s extra-man effort ranks in the middle of the pack (8th – 40.6%), Matthews has directly contributed to 10 of the team’s 13 conversions, as the forward’s 10 power-play assists rank tied for third-most in the NLL.
Mike Messenger has added 11 points (3g, 8a) and 58 loose balls, while teammate Kyle Rubisch’s 62 pace the squad and rank tied for ninth-most in the league. Defenseman Ryan Dilks’ 16 caused turnovers are a team-best for the Rush and rank tied for third-most among NLL players this season. Even though the Rush defense has only held opponents to single-digit goal totals twice in seven contests this season, goaltender Adam Shute’s 9.74 goals-against average qualifies as fifth-best among starting NLL goaltenders.
While Saskatchewan’s penalty-killing unit ranks 12th in the NLL, the Mammoth have only managed to draw a combined 56 penalty minutes this season, 23 less than the 13th-ranked Calgary Roughnecks (79 in 6 GP). Colorado will look to stay aggressive in the transition game and when attacking the crease as the team looks to build on its season-best three power-play tallies last weekend in Calgary.
Get in the Game
Tickets to Colorado’s Feb. 20 Essential Workers Night contest against the Saskatchewan Rush, 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+.