Compiled and Written by “Muffler” Mike Kostiuk
2019-2020 Record: 7-6, 2nd place West Division
F Zed Williams, T Ron John, F Connor Robinson, D Alec Tamas
D Dan Coates, F Jacob Ruest, F Will Malcolm, F Kyle Killen, F Jeff Wittig
Could less really be more? If your answer is yes, it could explain how the Colorado Mammoth remain a tough task for any NLL team on any given night. Over the last few years, the team has seemingly developed an identity that, on the surface, appears less flashy than most other teams. Yet this approach often results in the Mammoth emerging from tight, low-scoring games with another all-important W added to their record. Let’s look at the Colorado Mammoth as they prepare for the 2021-2022 season…
Alluding to Colorado’s penchant for low-scoring contests, the Mammoth ranked in the bottom third of the league in Goals Per Game (9.85) during the 2019-2020 season. This is not to say that the offense is entirely bland, as righthander Ryan Lee and lefty Eli McLaughlin are both capable of making highlight-reel shots at a moment’s notice. Veterans Tyler Digby and Chris Wardle respectively provide a big body that can work in the dirty areas of the floor, and one of the better quick-stick shots in the game.
While the offense saw the departures of Jacob Ruest (2020 Draft-day trade with Albany), Kyle Killen (trade with Vancouver), Jeff Wittig (trade with Rochester), and Will Malcolm (post Expansion Draft trade with PCLC), the Mammoth acquired 2020 PLL Playoff MVP Zed Williams in a trade with Georgia, along with Connor Robinson (trade with Saskatchewan). Both acquisitions should provide a sizeable boost to the aforementioned GPG statistic in the upcoming season.
So how exactly did the Mammoth manage a winning record despite the low GPG? The defensive unit conversely ranked near the top of the league in 2019-2020, with less than 9.5 Goals Allowed Per Game. The defensive prowess is even more impressive given that Colorado ranked next to last in Caused Turnovers, and were below 50% in Faceoff Wins for the season.
The team is expected to return nearly all of its core defensive players, including Defensive Player of the Year finalist Robert Hope, Goalie of the Year Finalist Dillon Ward, and Transition Player of the Year finalist Joey Cupido (who surprisingly was not selected by Panther City in the Expansion Draft after being left unprotected). 2019 draft picks Warren Jeffrey and Brett Craig should see more playing time and greater roles in the defense, while 2020 Draftee Ron John and free agent signee Alec Tamas will look to supplement Cupido and Jordan Gilles in the transition game.