Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Bill Wippert
On Saturday June 18, 2022, the Colorado Mammoth (1-1) headed to New York to face the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) in front of a sellout crowd at KeyBank Center. The 19,060 fans were certain their team would walk away easily with the Champions Cup. But the Colorado Mammoth fans knew what their team had done throughout the playoffs and the Bandits needed to bring their “A” game if they wanted to win. The net-minders Dillon Ward and Matt Vinc were closely matched on the stats sheets. Ward was sitting with an 11.75 GAA and a .767 Sv%. While Vinc was a bit better than him with an 11.20 GAA and a .782 Sv%. At the face-off dot, the Mammoth held the edge. Tim Edwards had won 90-166 with a .542 FO% and Max Adler was sitting at 62-132 and a .470 FO%. Throughout the playoffs, the Mammoth have outscored their opponents 47-26 in the second half. This time they started off early and led by two at the half and never looked back. Final Score: Mammoth 10—Bandits 8.
The Mammoth would win the opening draw and Zed Williams (4g, 2a) headed down the floor and from the left wing, fired one over his defender and hit the far side pipe to open it up 24 seconds in getting them on the board 1-0 Colorado. The Bandits would come back with a three-goal run with two in only 9 seconds. Dhane Smith (1g, 2a) from way out fired a low bouncer shot hitting the top corner for the equalizer at 1:15 and it was 1-1. At the 1:24 mark Josh Byrne (1g, 3a) from out front and through traffic, fired a shot down low for the go ahead tally 2-1. It took six and change and a track meet before the net marker would go up. In transition, Ian MacKay (1g, 1a) would head down the floor, get the rebound off the boards and dunk it near side with 7:27 to go and Buffalo was up 3-1. The net-minders Ward and Vinc were on point stopping shot after shot. Finally with 4:59 left in the first, Williams would put his head down, charge the net and dump it over the shoulder of Vinc cutting the lead to one. Right before the end of the first, Ward would make an amazing save on a second chance effort. Connor Fields out in front fired on net, and Ward lying on his side would make the save in front of the net. First Quarter Stats: SOG—Colorado 5 Buffalo 12; Face-offs Colorado 4-6 Buffalo 2-6; Saves—Colorado 9 Buffalo 3. Score at the end of one: Bandits 3—Mammoth 2.
Colorado would outscore Buffalo 5-2 in the second and dominate the Bandits. Once again, the Mammoth would open the scoring. Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a) came in with the back door cut and Priolo draped all over him, and with the twister move dunked it far side 36 seconds in for the equalizer and it was 3-3. It took only 13 seconds, and they’d notch another. Sam Firth (1g, 1a) got the flip toss from Kinnear, he cut to the middle and notched his first career NLL goal giving the Mammoth their first lead since the 24 second mark of the first 4-3. But the Bandits would answer back at 2:05. Kyle Buchanan (3g, 1a) got the crossfield pass from Byrne and with the quick stick found the back of the net to tie it back up at 4’s. Pat Coyle, Mammoth Bench Boss would throw the challenge flag, but it turned out to be a “non-challengeable” call and was called a “good goal”. Colorado would tie it back up at the 3:05 mark when Buffalo gave Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) a ton of time and space and he put it on the near side pipe, and they went back up 5-4. Buffalo thought they had tied the game at 4:09 off a Priolo to Weiss goal when Weiss went airborne, but the goal was challenged by Coyle again. It was found that Weiss’s toe touched the crease, so it was called “No Goal”. After three and half ticked off the clock, Buchanan would charge the net, went airborne and dunked it over the shoulder of Ward with 7:35 to go and we were tied at 5’s. The next two would come from the Mammoth. Williams got the ball to on Tyson Gibson (1g) on the two-man game and Gibson fired a snipe shot through traffic and pinged the top pipe with 5:54 left 6-5 Mammoth. After a couple of change in possessions, the Mammoth would cause the turnover, Anthony Joaquim (1g, 1a) would scoop the loosie in front of the Bandits crease, break down the floor all alone and fire it over the left shoulder of Vinc with 4:11 in the half. The Mammoth kept the Bandits out of the net for the remainder of the first half. Second Quarter Stats: SOG—Colorado 15 Buffalo 13; Face-offs Colorado 6-8 Buffalo 2-8; Saves—Colorado 11 Buffalo 10. Score at the end of two: Mammoth 7—Bandits 5.
The third was a battle of the net-minders with only one goal scored. With 5:17 left in the third, Colorado had made 13 shots on goal and Buffalo had made 10. The Bandits would go on a man-up at the 5:17 mark and 36 seconds into the power-play opportunity, Chris Cloutier (1g) would get a BTB feed from Byrne and would go low-to-low on the inside for the first Bandits goal almost 18 minutes. This would be the first time during the 2022 playoffs that the Bandits had trailed at the end of the third quarter. Third Quarter Stats: SOG—Colorado 17 Buffalo 14; Face-offs Colorado 2-2 Buffalo 0-2; Saves—Colorado 16 Buffalo 14. Score at the end of three: Mammoth 7—Bandits 6.
Buffalo would open up the scoring in the final frame. Smith would flip toss to Connor Fields (1g) on the backdoor feed and with the quick stick, he’d put it in on the inside pipe to tie it at 7’s only 27 seconds in. The first time that the Bandits had tied the game since it was 5-5 in the second. But the Mammoth weren’t done yet. Williams would come around the cage, go up the floor and from almost the restraining line sent a laser past Vinc at 3:14 for his hat-trick and it was 8-7 Colorado. That fired up the Mammoth and they’d put up two more. Chris Wardle (1g, 5a) headed to the crease, jumped and with a twister shot came back across his body and dunked it over the left shoulder of Vinc increasing the lead to two 9-7 at the 5:31 mark. The Bandits were frustrated as they couldn’t put anything past Ward. With 6:34 left in the frame, Colorado would go man-down. Ward would block all six Buffalo shots on the cage and their defense was some of the best there was all night. No shots would find the back of the cages for the next nine minutes. With 1:41 to go in the game, Buffalo would go with a six-on-five, and they’d lose possession. Vinc would head back to the cage as the frustration was building and the realization that their season was most likely over. Jalen Chaster headed to the cage and at the 1:14 mark, Vinc came out of the crease and went after Chaster at the boards, tempers flared and so the Buffalo bench called a time out to calm the team. Buffalo decided to stay with the empty net and Williams iced the game with the empty netter with 25.7 seconds on the ticker putting them up 10-7. The Bandits would notch one more off the ensuing face off with 6.6 on the season. Buchanan from the outside would fire a low-to-low shot and that was it. Final Score: Mammoth 10—Bandits 8.
The Mammoth outplayed the Bandits in both Game 2 and Game 3 even without their top scorers from the season, Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin. They would hold the Bandits leading scorers Dhane Smith, Josh Byrne, and Chris Cloutier to a total of 3 goals apiece in each of the last two games. Dillon Ward outplayed Matt Vinc and had a save percentage of .873% as opposed to Vinc would have a .763%.
Stars of the Game:
Colorado Mammoth—Dillon Ward: SOG 63; Saves 55; Sv% .873%
Colorado Mammoth—Zed Williams: 4g, 2a
Buffalo Bandits—Kyle Buchanan: 3g, 1a
Colorado Mammoth—SOG 47; Saves 55; Face-offs 11-22; Assists 18; LB 51; PP 0-1
Buffalo Bandits—SOG 63; Saves 29; Face-offs 11-22; Assists 14; LB 87; PP 1-2
The Colorado Mammoth (2-1) have waited 16 years to take home another championship and it’s even sweeter that they did it again going up against the Buffalo Bandits (1-2) again this time in the Best of Three Series.
Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©