Colorado (3-1) ended Saturday’s game with a win versus West Division rival Vancouver Warriors (1-3) 13-9. A back and forth affair was highlighted by the transition game for both teams netting some big goals, highlighted by two-time NLL Transition Player of the Year in Joey Cupido.
Vancouver got off to a hot start, scoring four straight goals in the span of 5:30 to start the game. Keegan Bal, Jordan McBride (2), and Logan Schuss found the net for the Warriors. Colorado pulled goaltender Dillon Ward for reserve goalie Tyler Carlson for a total of :09 before Ward returned to the game after a timeout. Ward and the Mammoth defense settled down and only allowed two more goals the remainder of the half, one to Warriors captain, Matt Beers.
The Mammoth offense looked shaky to start the game, unable to penetrate the Warriors defense. Credit to the Warriors defense, they were pressuring the Mammoth forwards and causing turnovers on dropped passes and not allowing the forwards to the middle. Rookie forward Will Malcom got his first career goal in the Loud House to kick off the scoring for the Mammoth after a huge hit on the other end to get the Mammoth possession. Momentum stated to swing Colorado’s way after the hit, the first goal by Malcom and a goal by Eli McLaughlin immediately following Malcom’s goal. This was McLaughlin’s first game back after missing the last two matches due to injury. It was his first goal for his 2019-20 campaign. At the end of the first, the Mammoth cut into the Warriors lead to make it 5-2 Vancouver.
Colorado started the second quarter similarly to the first, by allowing a goal to Logan Schuss just :30 seconds into the frame. From there the Mammoth defense got back to their normal selves, being stingy, and physical, not allowing a goal the remainder of the quarter. Leading the offensive charge for the Mammoth was their defense and transition in the second. Defenseman Dan Coates, Joey Cupido and Jordan Gilles tallied all three goals for the Mammoth in the 2nd. Joey Cupido’s goal came shorthanded to damper Vancouver’s spirits. The 2nd quarter ended with Vancouver’s lead down to one, 7-6.
Stats at the half were even, 21 shots on goal for the Mammoth and 24 for the Warriors. A clean game despite the physicality with only one penalty in the entire half was on the Mammoth for holding the stick when the short-handed goal was scored. Leading the first half for the Warriors was Jordan McBride with two goals. For the Mammoth, Joey Cupido led the scoring with one goal and two assists.
The 3rd quarter started similarly to the first two, with a quick goal by Vancouver’s Keegan Bal to return the two-goal lead for Vancouver. Colorado stormed back with three goals of their own take the lead at 8-7. Chris Wardle and Will Malcom added the first two goals for the Mammoth to tie the game. Joey Cupido had another shorthanded goal off a long feed from Jordan Gilles, to give the Mammoth their first lead of the game. Just when it looked like Colorado was going to head into the 4th quarter with the lead, a penalty to rookie Warren Jeffrey for a cross check led to a Vancouver powerplay goal by Logan Schuss to tie the game heading into the final period.
Colorado had to have confidence heading into the 4th quarter as it has been their best quarter by far this season. Colorado started the 4th on the powerplay, their first of the night after Tyler Codron was sent to the penalty box for slashing at the very end of the 3rd. To the chagrin of Mammoth fans, the Colorado was unable to capitalize on the early momentum in the 4th. Ryan Lee was however able to give the Mammoth the lead with a top shelf shot to beat Eric Penney for his first goal of the night with just over 12 minutes remaining. Eli McLaughlin followed up Lee’s goal with one of his own to give the Mammoth a 10-8 lead. Colorado got themselves into a tough position a man down again after Dan Coates was given two minutes for holding. Mitch Jones made the most of the powerplay opportunity and beat Dillon Ward to cut the lead down to one. Jeff Wittig was able to restore the two-goal lead for the Mammoth after following his own shot, grabbing the rebound and beating Penney over the top with just over 3:00 remaining in play. Vancouver pulled goalie Eric Penney with 1:30 remaining to try and generate some quick offense. However, after a shot was grabbed by Jordan Gilles, Gilles lobbed the ball down the floor to Joey Cupido to get his third goal of the night on an empty net to seal the victory. For good measure, Jacob Ruest got his team leading 11th goal of the season with 40 seconds remaining.
A very balanced game benefitted the Mammoth once again. They had the game tied going into the 4th quarter and dominated the final frame by outscoring Vancouver 5-1. Faceoffs finished even at 13-26 for both teams, shots on goal favored Colorado 46-45 and Vancouver dominated the loose ball count 82-65.
Joey Cupido led the Mammoth team and defense with five points (3g, 2a). The defense and goalie Dillon Ward combined for five goals and nine assists on the night. Eli McLaughlin had a successful return with four points (2g, 2a). For the Warriors, Logan Schuss and Keegan Bal led the offense with five points each. Schuss had three goals and two assists while Bal had the opposite. Three stars of the game in order were Mammoth alternate captain Joey Cupido, Vancouver’s Logan Schuss, and Mammoth rookie Will Malcom who finished with two goals.
Colorado (3-1) will now head on the road for a few weeks starting with Halifax on January 11 to battle the Thunderbirds. Vancouver (1-3) will also stay on the road heading off to take on the Wings on January 10 in Philadelphia. The Mammoth are now sitting alone at the top of the West Division with a lot of season remaining, while Vancouver is tied with San Diego for fourth place. All games through the NLL season can be streamed via Bleacher Report Live.