With just six weeks left in the regular-season, the Colorado Mammoth are preparing for back-to-back games with the Vancouver Warriors this Friday and Saturday, while in the thick of the NLL playoffs race.
The Mammoth secured a series win against the Calgary Roughnecks last weekend and, if the team wins-out over the Warriors this weekend, they will cinch their second tie-breaker in two weeks. As Colorado and Vancouver are currently level with 4-8 records, 3.5 games back from the division-leading Seals, taking this series is crucial for Colorado.
The Mammoth and Warriors will begin their two-game series finale in Vancouver on Friday and will face off in a final game in Denver on Saturday.
Last Time Out
After falling flat, 4-1, in the first quarter, the Mammoth sprinted to an 11-9 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks on the road last Saturday, outscoring their opponents, 10-5, in the final 45 minutes. For the second game in the last four weeks, Colorado’s stand-out duo, Ryan Lee and Kyle Killen, led the team in goals, scoring three goals each. Each with five points, Killen and Eli McLaughlin topped the Mammoth’s points column. Defensively, for the seventh game this season, Robert Hope recovered the most loose balls for the Mammoth. Between the pipes, Dillon Ward saved 35 of 44 shots.
The Warriors beat the Black Wolves, 12-9, at home, snapping New England’s three-game win streak. Eric Penney stood in-net for Vancouver, saving 37 of 46 shots in the Warrior’s win. Mitch Jones, Vancouver’s leading scorer in his first season with the team, led the charge in goals and points with four goals and two assists.
Last Time They Met
In their first contest against the Warriors this season, the Mammoth lost 11-10 in overtime at Rogers Arena. Vancouver’s Logan Schuss dominated the scoreboard, posting four goals, including the game-winning snipe in the extra frame, and adding one assist. Chris Wardle tallied three markers for the Mammoth, recording his first hat-trick since December 2017. Eric Penney stopped 34 of 44 shots, while Dillon Ward denied 39 of 50 shots.
What to Watch
Looking at the current NLL playoffs picture, according to the standings, the Mammoth and Warriors are battling for the last playoff spot in the Western Division. The teams are close competitors heading into their back-to-back contests this weekend. For instance, in addition to matching 4-8 records, both teams have tallied a total of 125 goals so far this season. And the rivals have similar goaltending statistics as well. Colorado’s overall save percentage is .757 while Vancouver’s is .767.
In all likelihood, only one of these evenly matched teams will appear in the NLL playoffs. The Mammoth have a fighting chance right now, but will have a much stronger foothold going into a bye week if they hold the tie-breaker over Vancouver after the series-finale on Saturday.
Who to Watch
With Josh Sullivan on the injured reserve list after leaving the turf with what appeared to be lower body last Saturday, The Mammoth have added Julian Garritano to the active roster. Garritano has already appeared in two games this season, forcing one caused-turnover and scooping up five loose balls.
Ian Llord will appear in his second and third Mammoth games this weekend, having been acquired in a trade with the Rochester Knighthawks on March 11. The big-bodied defenseman stayed quiet in the first half of his Mammoth debut against the Roughnecks last weekend, but his energy and physicality came out in the final frames. Llord came out of Calgary with one assist. In his nine games with the Knighthawks this season, Llord did not face the Vancouver Warriors.
The Mammoth have played 11 straight games since January 6 and in that streak, Dillon Ward has played about 582 minutes. The Mammoth will need Ward sharp through the April playoff hunt and may rest him in one of their two games this weekend, putting Steve Fryer in-net to relieve him. Fryer has played just over 38 minutes this season. The 28-year-old needs just four minutes to reach 200 career minutes.
The Mammoth’s first game versus the Warriors is slated for Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m. MT in Rogers Arena. Fans can live-stream the game on Bleacher Report Live.
The Mammoth end the series on Saturday, March, 23, at 7 p.m. MT in Pepsi Center during the team’s Military Appreciation Night presented by AAA Service, Phantom K-9 and Budweiser. Tickets are available now at AltitudeTickets.com. Altitude TV will broadcast the game locally, and out-of-town fans can live-stream the game on Bleacher Report Live.