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 Colorado Mammoth

Mammoth Drop Close 13-11 Final to Bandits Friday

April 6, 2024 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Colorado Mammoth News Release

DENVER - The Colorado Mammoth dropped a dramatic 13-11 final to the Buffalo Bandits Friday night before a season-high 11,252 rowdy LOUD HOUSE fans. Celebrating Grateful Dead Night, featuring some truly amazing fan jerseys and several spirited performances from Shake Down Street, the night was groovy, apart from the end score.

On a night where Tyson Gibson recorded his 100th assist and Connor Robinson scored goal No. 100, the boys came up just short, despite Dillon Ward stopping 30-of-42 on the night.

On Buffalo's first possession of the game, Dhane Smith put on the burners early, speeding around his defender on his way to the net before tucking a quick bid past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward to give his team a lead just 44 seconds in.

With his squad winning the faceoff, recently activated defenseman Justin Robinson finished off the transition effort with a similar attempt, approaching the crease from Ward's left and finding twine. 2-0 early for the Bandits.

Now three goals in the opening minute and 33 seconds of play, transition specialist Ian MacKay slammed one home at the end of a set play as the defending 2023 NLL Champions continued their fiery start.

Getting the good guys on the board, Connor Kelly reminded LOUD HOUSE fans of what they'd been missing, as the talented finisher drew back into the lineup Friday night for the first time in a few weeks, previously on the Injured Reserve List. But he's BACK, ever apparent as he launched a saucy shot at Buffalo netminder Matt Vinc and negated the orange squad's lead to two with some quality top ched.

Two straight for the home team now, as Mammoth forward Dylan Kinnear finished an insane behind-the-back tally as the shot clock neared expiration, now 3-2. The best part? "Nearsy" as they call him was killing a penalty, as the team continues to be a threat on the PK this season.

Enter Eli McLaughlin, or you may know him as "Liger," who wanted in on the fun midway through the first quarter. Collecting a quick rebound from a teammate's shot, he quickly put a shot on net and beat Vinc, now tied at threes at the LOUD HOUSE exploded.

Following the play, Buffalo's captain Steve Priolo wasn't having as good of a time, eventually taking his frustration out on Zed Williams, who didn't retaliate at all en route to drawing a dead ball penalty. Instead, he scored the power-play goal, as Ball Arena PA Big Rob gave the veteran defender an unofficial assist on the play. 4-3, Mammoth in front!

Knotting the game at four per side while bringing Colorado's four-goal streak to an end, Josh Byrne finished off a man-up opportunity with a slick, side-armed shot. But on Grateful Dead Night, the vibes were still high, and the LOUD HOUSE crowd resilient.

Top ched over Ward's right shoulder, Smith picked up his second of the night as the result of another penalty called on Colorado, representing Buffalo's second power-play conversion on the night.

Welcome Back, CK40, as the right-handed scorer recorded a second of his own with less than three seconds remaining in the opening half, officially tying the game at 5-5 as the teams entered the break. While the opening quarter saw a combined nine goals, the second quarter only witnessed one, Kelly's!

Passing the rock across the entire crease to an awaiting Liger on the backside, who immediately dunked the ball, C-Rob set the talented scorer up with an A+ look, as McLaughlin scored his second of the night to give the home team a one-goal lead four minutes into the second half.

Unfortunately for Colorado, Buffalo would enjoy a three-goal streak throughout the duration of the third period, with Chris Cloutier, Kyle Buchanan and Smith notching goals for the away team.

Kelly, however, started the fourth with some noise. BOUNCERS WILL GO, as the scoring threat sent a long-range bouncer past Vinc on the power play to bring his team back within one. The LOUD HOUSE was roaring, and a comeback was brewing!

But a minute later, Buffalo forward Tehoka Nanticoke spun around his defender and peeled crease side before beating Ward, now 9-7 with 12 minutes to play.

Battling back quickly, Robinson secured his first of the night by crashing to the net and beating Vinc low, once again bringing the good guys back within one. And just 21 seconds later, Kelly picked up his FOURTH on the evening, obviously well rested from his time off.

Forcing his defender off of him right before accepting the rock, Williams played some bully ball, and Buffalo did NOT like it. Now three-straight for the Mammoth, Williams was on the board for a second time. But even more important, Colorado was back atop the scoreboard with 10 to play.

Byrne got a lucky bounce 18 seconds later, as the forward sent a shot on goal but it directly ricocheted off the bottom of the goalpost and right back into his stick, where he quickly launched once again and beat Ward, who was still recovering from his initial save attempt. 10-10 as the drama continued!

A hat trick for Williams was earned less than a minute later, as the physical forward continued to put his skills on display, this time by crashing the crease and slamming one home. If Ball Arena wasn't rocking before, it sure was now.

His third goal and seventh point of the contest, Byrne re-tied the game at 11s midway through the final session. Smith doubled down for the Bandits two minutes later, laying it all out and converting via a quality diving effort. Down one with 5:43 to play, Colorado needed another big goal.

Drawing a rare late-game penalty shot, as the Mammoth had too many men on the turf with under two minutes to play, Byrne couldn't convert, as Ward made the save and kept the score 12-11 with less than a minute remaining.

Smith added an empty-net tally with 14 seconds remaining to seal the 13-11 final.

Zed Williams (3g, 2a), Connor Kelly (4g, 1a) and Tyson Gibson (0g, 5a) each paced Mammoth scorers with five points each, while Connor Robinson (1g, 3a), Eli McLaughlin (2g, 1a) and Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) rounded out secondary scoring efforts.

Colorado will now prepare to celebrate the season with the LOUDEST fans in the league April 12 during the Ball Arena Finale on LOUD HOUSE Appreciation Night! Limited tickets remain to the Mammoth's final home matchup of the season, as Colorado prepares to host the Philadelphia Wings Friday night. And with the team's playoff hopes still alive, be sure to lock in your tickets and get ready to TUSK UP!!!

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