The Colorado Mammoth secured a 13-8 victory over the Buffalo Bandits Saturday night as Dillon Ward stopped 38-of-46 in his sixth win of the season. Spoiling the home team’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend celebration, Ryan Lee led all scorers with six points (0g, 6a) in his second game of the year.
After drawing an early penalty, Buffalo was able to establish an early lead, courtesy of a quick Chris Cloutier conversion on the power-play, just 90 seconds into the contest.
Four minutes later, however, Mammoth forward Zed Williams retaliated with a goal of his own, tying the game.
In his first game back, Fraser was welcomed back to Banditland with raucous applause midway through the first, as the forward buried an extra-man opportunity to grant the Bandits a 2-1 lead.
Kyle Buchanan extended it to 3-1 with less than three minutes to play in the opening 15. Making it three in a row, Buffalo’s Carter McKenzie picked up a scrappy goal with 41 seconds to play, as the Bandits would carry a 4-1 lead into the second quarter.
The best way to answer a goal streak? A goal streak of your own! Precisely what Tyson Gibson kickstarted two minutes into the second, by logging his second of the season. Making his way back to the Active Roster, forward Ty Thompson was next, this time recording a pair of tallies as Vinc started to look solvable, creating a 4-4 match.
After seeing Connor Robinson get on the board with 10 minutes to play, granting Colorado its first lead of the night, Fraser notched another, a back-side conversion, as Buffalo tied the contest at 5 with just under five to play in the first half. Cloutier logged another to make it two in a row, as Buffalo cemented a 6-5 lead, but Eli McLaughlin got right back to work, logging a diving effort less than a minute later to re-knot the game at sixes.
But Colorado wasn’t finished, as the team drew a penalty in the final minute of play, which quickly lead to a Chris Wardle goal, granting the Mammoth a 7-6 lead heading into the break.
Coming out of the halftime pause as a determined squad, the Mammoth would only allow two goals total in the second half. The first, courtesy of Brad McCulley, came more than 12 minutes into the third quarter, via the power-play, as the game was tied once again, this time at 7.
Summoning a similar effort from when the team captured its championship last summer, Zed Williams recaptured the lead for the visit squad less than two minutes later, eventually granting his team an 8-7 advantage heading into the final quarter of play.
Josh Byrne got the scoring started for Buffalo, just three minutes into the third, but the score represented the home team’s last tally of the night as Colorado capitalized on some momentum and but a bow on its performance throughout the final 15.
Following the under 10 break, Connor Robinson found his way on the scoresheet with a quick goal, and quickly followed up the strike with another deadly conversion a minute later, granting his team a two-goal lead at 10-8.
Continuing to step up when his team needs some production, Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin iced the contest with a goal midway through the fourth and another with three minutes to play. Taking the rock to the net, he did it all himself, spinning his defenseman off of him before peeling back crease-side, faking out the goaltender and finding twine.
With less than two minutes to play, defenseman Anthony Joaquim called game when he finished a transition effort with a diving bid, which cemented a 13-8 final out east.
After missing last weekend’s contest due to some lingering injury soreness, Ryan Lee paced Mammoth scorers with six points (0g, 6a) in his second appearance of the season, while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 2a), Zed Williams (2g, 3a) each recorded five points in the win. Tyson Gibson, in just his third game of the year with Colorado, racked up four points (1g, 3a), as Connor Robinson picked up another hat trick (3g, 0a). Ty Thompson cashed in another pair of goals (2g, 0a), while Chris Wardle (1g, 0a) and Anthony Joaquim (1g, 0a) rounded out the auxiliary scoring.
Now 6-6 on the year, the Mammoth will face the Vancouver Warriors March 25 inside Rogers Arena before preparing to host the Las Vegas Dessert Dog at the LOUD HOUSE March 31 as the 2023 NLL playoff picture continues to get spicy.