The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 13-12 decision to the Buffalo Bandits at Pepsi Center as the road team logged its game-winning goal two minutes into overtime.
“Buffalo did a great job of limiting our transition, but I thought we got some of our young guys scoring and it was a balanced offensive performance,” Coyle said. “We’ve had some quality performances from the young guys, but you can still see our youth, especially on offense.”
Buffalo’s Josh Byrne opened the contest’s scoring 32 seconds into the first period with a direct strike in front of the net to give the Bandits an early lead.
Rookie Dylan Molloy logged his first career NLL goal less than two minutes later with a diving shot that made its way past Buffalo goaltender Matt Vinc.
Following a slashing penalty on the Bandits, Ryan Lee logged his first of the evening on a quick power-play conversion.
Byrne picked up his second of the night with a behind-the-back goal coming off a pick just under five minutes into the first quarter to tie the game at two.
Kevin Brownell established Buffalo’s first lead five minutes later before Bandits forward Brent Noseworthy made it 4-2 by finishing a nice pass from Dhane Smith that snuck past Ward’s near side.
Rookie Dylan Kinnear logged a flashy side-arm flick just over a minute later to give the forward his fifth point of the season.
“There are always things to build off, even in a loss,” Mammoth forward Dylan Kinnear said. “Everyone contributes in this offense and I’m continuing to get my feet wet and get more comfortable with our game plan.”
Byrne completed his first-half hat trick by striking early in the period again, slamming a bounce shot past Ward. Corey Small increased Buffalo’s lead to three after getting open near the crease and fielding a ball from Smith before netting his sixth of the year.
As the result of an illegal substitution penalty, Byrne netted his fourth of the evening by burying a shot past Ward’s right side on a penalty shot at the four-minute mark to make it 7-3.
Joey Cupido fielded a high-flying rebound as he entered the o-zone and connected with a diving Ryan Lee, who placed a quick strike over Vinc’s left shoulder to bring it back to a three-goal game.
Buffalo and Colorado each registered 25 shots on goal during the first half as Buffalo took a 7-4 lead into halftime.
“Everyone in our locker room has that contagious positive attitude and that pushes guys to keep going,” Mammoth forward Ryan Lee shared in a postgame interview. “We just have to come out strong to start games for the rest of the season and not hang our heads if we go down a few goals.”
Byrne continued his streak of early-period goals by logging his fifth of the night three minutes into the second half, giving Buffalo its second four-goal advantage.
Lee kept his productive evening going with a wind-up, step-down shot from the right side to bring it back within three less than a minute later as the forward recorded his second hat trick of the season. The forward registered his fourth tally of the night five minutes later with a laser from right side for his second power-play marker.
Mammoth forward Jacob Ruest sent a ball over two defenders and found a streaking Kyle Killen outside the crease, who drove a furious strike past Vinc to bring the Mammoth within one goal.
Buffalo defender Steve Priolo answered with a coast-to-coast transition goal 20 seconds later to re-establish Buffalo’s two goal lead.
Lee notched his fifth of the night and 15th of the season with two minutes to play in the third quarter to bring the score to 9-8 before Byrne earned his sixth of the contest 34 seconds into the fourth quarter. The forward logged a goal in the first three minutes of all four quarters Saturday.
Following a series of passes across the top of the key, Killen sent a hard, three-quarter shot at the net and converted over Vinc’s right shoulder to bring it back within a one-goal lead.
Chase Fraser netted a dirty goal after Ward’s net was knocked back during a near-crease scrimmage to give Buffalo an 11-9 advantage.
Cupido collected a loose rebound and started a transition run before feeding Dylan Kinnear, who dove across the left side of the crease for his second of the evening to bring the Mammoth back within one goal.
Killen connected with an unguarded Eli McLaughlin who came free off a pick-and-roll and tied the game at 11 at the 10:28 mark. Jacob Ruest established Colorado’s first lead of the contest less than 30 seconds later.
“When we execute the aspects of the game that help us be successful, it’s amazing how well we can play,” Coyle said.
Byrne tied the game with a minute remaining with his seventh tally of the night to force overtime. Following a series of possessions for both teams, the Bandits converted two minutes into the extra session to capture its road victory with a score of 13-12.
“Our starts have been a problem in a few of our games. I’m not sure where are heads are at, but we need to clear our heads and focus at the start of these games,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle said. “I’m disappointed with the outcome of the game but I’m happy with how we responded and finished strong.”
Tickets to Colorado’s Feb. 15 matchup against the San Diego Seals, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.