The Mammoth captured its first victory of the season with an offensive showcase at South Gas Arena as Colorado earned a 16-11 victory over the Georgia Swarm Saturday night. Ryan Lee led the scoring charge for the Mammoth with eight points (5g, 3a) while Dillon Ward stopped 42-of-53 shots.
It doesn’t really matter how much you practice or scrimmage, I feel like it took us at least five minutes until we really started clicking,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle shared following Saturday’s victory. “It was nice to see how balanced our scoring was. Zed and Connor each got two, which is why we brought them here … to help them contribute offensively, not just be THE offense. It’s nice to see the way our offense is developing in the fact you have to stop several guys from scoring, not just one or two.”
Shayne Jackson opened the scoring for the Swarm after Lyle Thompson started toward the crease, came back above a pick-and-roll and located a floating Jackson at the top of the crease, who soon converted the first goal of the game past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward 57 seconds into the contest.
As the result of an illegal substitution penalty against the Mammoth, the Swarm found themselves on an early first quarter power-play. Thankfully for the Mammoth, forward Zed Williams can operate alone when needed. Registering his first marker with the Mammoth and the team’s first goal of the season, Zed finished the end of a penalty-killing possession by dodging his defender and beating Swarm netminder Mike Poulin to tie the game.
Ryan Lee decided to get in on the fun nearly five minutes later, returning to his old ways, as the forward went diving into the crease after giving Colorado it’s first lead of the evening.
Recently-appointed assistant captain Tyler Digby kept the scoring going when the forward established positioning down low, navigated around Swarm defenseman Jordan MacIntosh and faked Poulin out to establish a 3-1 lead for the Mammoth.
Colorado continued to spread the ball around in the second quarter as Eli McLaughlin charged toward the crease, dished to Kinnear on his right side and accepted the ball right back on a give-and-go before instantly finding twine and giving the Mammoth a three-goal lead.
Offseason acquisition Connor Robinson recorded his first goal with the Mammoth nearly four minutes into the second period. Thompson brought the Swarm back within three goals after receiving the ball to Ward’s right and ducking around another pick-and-roll, but instead of dishing, converted himself.
A Ron John cross-checking penalty with just under ten minutes remaining in the first half led to an odd-man rush as Brendan Bomberry logged the team’s first power-play goal of the season. Less than a minute later, Lee found himself receiving a pass from just outside the middle of the crease and logged his second of the evening beating Poulin with another diving shot.
Georgia took advantage of another odd-man break via Bryan Cole to make the score 6-4 with under eight minutes to play in the opening half. The score would stay the same for the remainder of the half, which saw a combined six penalties and ten goals as the squads found their bearings.
Similar to the first half, Jackson began the scoring for the Swarm with another high shot from the point, which found its way past Ward as the first of several streaky goals in the matchup.
Ryan Lee closed out the next Mammoth possession by creating separation and burying one past Poulin, only to be quickly answered by a breakaway goal from Cole to make it a 7-6 game, Mammoth advantage.
As Joey Cupido streaked off during a breakaway, he eventually fell down and connected with Zed Williams, who sent an effortless behind-the-back laser over Poulin’s right shoulder to re-establish a two-goal lead for the Mammoth. (Goal of the Year, Week 1???)
A few possessions later, the Swarm pulled Poulin in favor of an extra attacker and took advantage by freeing space for Jordan Hall, who logged his first of the season just outside of the crease.
Digby and Lee continued to work the two-man game as Digby rolled high to set a pick, faded to the left before burying over Poulin’s right shoulder to give the Mammoth a 9-7 lead. Lee went right back to work (naturally, flying through the crease) receiving a pass in the air and burying his fourth of the night to a restore a three-point deficit less than a minute later.
Lightning Cupido debuted his first transition goal of the season with a coast-to-coast take with under two minutes to play in the third quarter. Less than a minute later, McLaughlin chimed in with a diving marker of his own to establish a 12-7 Mammoth lead, which would remain the score as the third period ended.
Less than 45 seconds into the final quarter, forward Chris Wardle logged his first of the campaign after throwing a shot high off the crossbar and bouncing into the net after ricocheting off Poulin’s leg. The Mammoth offense continued to pour it on, as Robinson went top shelf with a sniper past Poulin’s left shoulder as Colorado held a 14-7 lead.
A Tanner Buck goal at the 5:24 mark later made it a six-goal game.
Under a minute later, McLaughlin surged toward the crease from Poulin’s left side and made it 15-8 before Jackson continued to remind Swarm fans at South Gas Arena why he was named the 2020 NLL MVP by recording an impressive tally to collect his hat-trick on the evening. Momentum continued to shift toward the Swarm as MacIntosh logged a gritty goal outside of the crease to bring Georgia back within five.
Georgia’s Vaugh Harris finished a three-on-two opportunity with just under two minutes to play to represent the Swarm’s final goal of the evening before Ryan Lee notched his fifth of the night within the final minute of play to solidify a 16-11 final score.
Despite facing 53 shots from Georgia’s potent offensive front, Dillon Ward and the defensive unit limited Georgia to 11 goals and provided several opportunities in the transition game.
“No matter what we do offensively, if Wardo doesn’t stop those shots, we don’t win the game, and I thought he was awesome tonight,” Coyle shared.
Ryan Lee led the Mammoth with eight points (5g, 3a) while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), Chris Wardle (1g, 4a) and Connor Robinson (2g, 3a) represented Colorado on the scoreboard as well. Tyler Digby (2g, 2a) and Zed Williams (2g, 1a) each recorded two goals while faceoff specialist Tim Edwards won 20-of-29 draws on the evening.
Shayne Jackson paced the Swarm in scoring, contributing five points (3g, 2a) on the evening. Lyle Thompson (1g, 2a), Jordan Hall (1g, 2a) and Brendan Bomberry (1g, 2a) each notched three points for Georgia. Mike Poulin stopped 14-of-27 shots in the loss while Craig Wende stopped 2-of-4 Saturday night.
“We really got a sense of our team being together again tonight – really battling together,” Coyle shared. “Adding that feeling to being back at the Loud House in front of our fans next week is when we really feel like we’ll be back. We’re not really back until we’re at home and we’re really excited to get back to Ball Arena”
Tickets to Colorado’s Dec.11 Black out the Loud House home opener matchup against the San Diego Seals, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via ESPN+.