Mammoth Fire on All Cylinders in Decisive Series Sweep of the Warriors 1/26/24

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Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit:  Di Miller

The Colorado Mammoth (3-4) headed to Rogers Arena to face for the second and final time this regular season, the Vancouver Warriors (2-5).  This was an extremely important game for both teams as a loss would make it almost impossible to make it to the final 8 for this year’s playoffs.  In the last contest on December 30, 2023, Vancouver came out hot in the first half outscoring Colorado 11-5 however Colorado would shut out Vancouver in the second half to win in OT.  In last night’s contest, Colorado came out hot and stayed hot throughout with Dillon “The Wall” Ward boasting a .860 Sv% in the first half.  All in all, it was a total team effort.  We got to see two rookies, one from each squad score their first career NLL goals.  Sean Kriwokon of Colorado notched his first NLL career goal 56 seconds into the second on a breakaway and Tyson Kirkness of Vancouver would go in all alone, faked left-right-left and put one over the shoulder of Ward.  Eli McLauglin would have another stellar night notching a true hattrick to start off the contest putting up another two plus five assists for a 10-point night.  And to top it off, Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle    would surpass Bob Hamley for 10th All-Time with his 80th career win as an NLL coach.  He is also the longest serving head coach in the league.  In the end, the Mammoth would dominate the contest defeating the Warriors.  Final Score:  Mammoth 14—Warriors 8.

Vancouver would get the first possession but couldn’t find the back of the net.  After a couple changes of possessions, Eli McLaughlin (5g, 5a) would plant his feet, fire a laser from the outside and buried it far side under the glove of Aaron Bold 4:54 in giving Colorado the lead 1-0.  At the 9:08 mark, the Warriors were caught holding and the Mammoth would capitalize.  One minute into the man up, McLaughlin would pull it short side with a snipe shot for the first Mammoth power-play marker of the night with 8:06 remaining and it was 2-0 good guys.  With 6:52 left in the first, the Warriors would go on their first man up opportunity.  They had some good ball movement and 10 seconds later, Ryan Martel was set up behind the net for the dive and dunk, but he was called in the crease.  Vancouver Bench Boss Curt Malawsky threw the challenge flag but unfortunately the review was inconclusive and the roughing calls against Martel and Dan Dawson stood but the goal did not.  Right after the penalties were released, McLauglin would strike again.  On a breakaway, he headed to the net and fired one five-hole with 4:41 to go for his hat trick and it was 3-0.  A couple minutes came of the ticker and Vancouver would finally find twine.  Adam Charalambides (1g 4a) the leading scorer so far for the Warriors, floated a bouncer from the outside deep into the shot clock with 1:05 left in the first to get the home team on the board 3-1.  The two teams would battle for the last 53.6 seconds but neither found the back of the net.  Score at the end of one:  Mammoth 3—Warriors 1.

Photo Credit: Di Miller

The Mammoth would win the draw to open the second and kept the momentum going, putting up four in a row.  It took only 18 seconds and Connor Robinson (1g, 4a) from the restraining line, fired an outside rip and stung the low corner and it was 4-1.  With just 56 seconds off the timer, Sean Kriwokon (1g, 1a) would scoop the loose ball in front of the Vancouver net, broke down the middle of the floor and took it to the rack over the shoulder of Bold for his first NLL career goal 5-1 Colorado.  The Mammoth’s ball movement was fantastic on this next goal as they’d go east to west and high to low putting up their sixth of the night.  Tyson Gibson flip tossed to Connor Kelly (1g, 1a) who was right out in front, and he put the shot right over the left shoulder 5:21 in and it was 6-1.  At that point Malawsky had seen enough and pulled Bold in favor of back up net minder Aden Walsh.  He was only in long enough for the next draw and at the time out, was pulled and Bold headed back to his cage.  Unfortunately for Vancouver, on the next possession they’d get the turnover but would be called for an illegal substitution and Colorado would go on their second man up and would again capitalize.  On the give and go, Tyson Gibson (2g, 3a) would finish near side with a twister shot with 7:03 left in the half giving Colorado a six-goal lead 7-1.  A little over a minute later, the Warriors would halt the run and put up their second on the night.  After a couple of missed opportunities to find twine, late in the shot clock, Keegan Bal (3g, 4a) hooked a shot around his defender and went five-hole on Ward with 5:56 on the clock and it was 7-2.  But Vancouver, who heading into the contest was the least penalized team in the league would get hit with their fourth penalty of the night.  Reid Bowering got nabbed with a checking from the behind with 4:20 to go and would head to the sin bin and the Mammoth would make them pay again.  It took only 20 seconds into the man up, Colorado was showing precision passing, they found Zed Williams (2g, 1a) all alone out in front, he did a couple of pump fakes, shot across his body and put it near side with 4:00 to go in the half and it was 8-2.  Once again, Malawsky had seen enough and put Walsh in for the remainder of the game.  He’d give one up with 2:13 left when on another give and go, Gibson pinged the far corner 9-2 Mammoth.  The frustrations were mounting on the home side of the floor and Vancouver would see their fifth penalty on the night.  There was only 1:42 left in the half but Vancouver was still able to put up a short-handed marker.  The clock showed 1:02 and Bal with the quick catch and release got it to go under the stick of Ward to close out the scoring in the first half.  Score at the end of two:  Mammoth 9—Warriors 3.

Heading into the third, Vancouver would go man up just 40 seconds in, but they couldn’t capitalize which seemed to be the story of the night for them.  Colorado would keep up the pressure in the third outscoring Vancouver again, this time 3-2.  McLaughlin did a little shake and bake, twisted and put one up against the pipe far side 3:17 in giving them a 10-3 lead.  Vancouver put up the next two and only goals they’d tally in the frame.  Ryan Martel (1g, 1a) tip-toed the crease, finished inside and tight five-hole at the 4:20 mark and it was 10-4 Warriors.  A little more than two minutes later, Tyler Kirkness (1g) got the flip toss at midfield, headed down the floor all alone, faked left-right-left and put it over the shoulder of Ward for his first NLL career goal with 8:12 remaining in the third.  But the celebration was short lived as the Mammoth would score in transition and McLaughlin would put up his fourth on the night just 7 seconds later.  He faked short side and put it far side and it was 11-5.  With that goal, McLaughlin became the franchise leading scoring for the Mammoth.  The final tally in the frame would come from the defensive side of the floor. Warren Jeffrey (1g, 1a) on the run put one in far side down low for his first goal of the year and 5th of his career and once again Colorado had a seven-goal lead 12-5.  Vancouver got one more man up opportunity in the third and once again couldn’t find twine.  Both Ward and Walsh played well for the last 4:50, keeping the score the same.  Score at the end of three:  Mammoth 12—Warriors 5.

Colorado did not let off the gas going through three quarters and were firing on all cylinders.  Dillon Ward was seeing the ball with pinpoint precision and had stifled the Warriors for 45 minutes.  Just like the second, the scoring got started quickly.  Vancouver had great ball movement to start the fourth and it paid off as Riley Loewen (1g, 1a) came across the crease, got Ward to slide and he tucked it far corner just 58 seconds in and it was 12-6.  A minute later, Chris Wardle (1g, 3a) was all alone on the backside and fired it across his body for his fifth of the year 13-6.  The Warriors would go on another power play and finally capitalized.  Four minutes and 26 seconds in, Bal got Ward to drop early and put it short side top corner for his hattrick and it was 13-7 with a lot of time left.  At this point in the game, Vancouver was leading in the shots on goal category 41-35 but even with that were behind on the scoreboard.  For the first seven minutes of the fourth, the teams held a track meet with both net minders and the posts keeping the scoring low and the excitement high.  Colorado would put up their final tally in the contest with 7:07 to go.  Williams used a nice spin move and with a no look shot went five-hole on Walsh and the Mammoth would double up on the Warriors 14-7.  The final tally came courtesy of Kevin Crowley (1g, 1a).  After having put up five against Colorado on December 30, 2023, this was his first and only goal on the night.  With 2:50 in regulation, from out in front, he wrapped it around his defender and found the bottom corner short side to close it out for the night.  Final Score:  Mammoth 14—Warriors 8.

Colorado Mammoth—SOG 38; Saves 38; Sv% .826%; FO 13-26; PP 3-5; PIM 12
Vancouver Warriors—SOG 46; Saves 24; Sv% .632%; FO 13-26; PP 1-4; PIM 16

Eli McLaughlin—Colorado Mammoth: 5g, 5a
Dillon Ward—Colorado Mammoth: 46 SA; Saves 38; Sv% .826%
Keegan Bal—Vancouver Warriors: 3g, 4a


The Colorado Mammoth (3-4) will head to Pechanga Arena to face the red-hot San Diego Seals (4-2)** on Sunday February 4, 2024, game time 6:00 p.m. EST.  This is the Game of the Week for fans in the USA so fans can see the game on ESPN+ and ESPNU.  Fans in Canada can see the game on TSN+.

The Vancouver Warriors (2-5) will head to Gas South Arena to face the Georgia Swarm (4-3)** on Friday February 2, 2024, game time 7:30 p.m.  Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+.  Fans in Canada get to see the action on TSN+.

Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent

Lacrosse is Awesome©

**Records at the time of the article.