Bandits Play Sloppy While Mammoth Get Ready For Playoff Run

Saturday night was the first time since the defending conference champions met, setting the stage for a meaningful battle in Banditland.

Tale of the Tape:

Coming into Saturday’s bout, the Bandits sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 10-2 record. Colorado, at 5-6, has not yet replicated their success from last year, finding themselves in fifth place in the West.

Eli McLaughlin continues to lead Mammoth personnel with 45 points, including a team-best 21 goals and 24 assists, despite missing a game due to injury. Fellow B.C. native and left-handed operator Connor Robinson also missed one matchup earlier this season, but has managed 39 points (20g, 19a) in 10 appearances so far. After securing his fourth hat trick in 10 games played, Zed Williams has recorded 36 points (20g, 16a) in his first full season with the organization. Veteran forward Rhys Duch has logged 33 points (10g, 23a) in eight games, most recently chipping in three points last weekend in his first game back from injury. Chris Wardle’s 23 points (5g, 18a) round out the top-five scoring totals for Mammoth players so far.

After injuries forced both Josh Byrne and Chris Cloutier to watch multiple games from afar, they finally made their triumphant returns to the field last week against Halifax, where the Bandits took the game 10-9 in overtime.  Byrne finished last week’s matchup with a hat trick and six assists, totaling nine points. Cloutier capped off his night with four goals and an assist, with his final tally being the game-winner.

Reigning MVP Dhane Smith leads the league in assists with 67, and with 94 points, he trails only New York’s Jeff Teat, who has 96.  Bandits captain Steve Priolo ranks fifth in blocked shots with 14, while veteran goaltender Matt Vinc is tied for the league in wins (10) and is second in saves (511).

The goaltending match-up had Dillon Ward in net for Colorado against Matt Vinc in net for the Bandits.

Although the Bandits got out to a 4-1 lead, Colorado kept clawing and scratching to take a 7-6 lead at the half.  Tied 8-8 in the fouth, the Mammoth put it in another gear led by Connor Robinson (3g,0a) and Eli McLaughlin (3g,2a).  Colorado shut the Bandits down en route to a 13-8 victory.

To The Game:

Buffalo opened up the scoring with Chris Cloutier converting a Josh Byrne pass with an underhand shot at 1:33.  Zed Williams evened the game up finishing off a Ryan Lee feed at 5:09.

Chase Fraser regained the Bandits lead on the power-play off a Josh Byrne pass at 7:56, followed by Kyle Buchanan scoring also off a Byrne feed at 12:09. Carter McKenzie added to the Bandits leaf converting a Dylan Robinson feed at 14:19.

After one quarter, Buffalo 4 Colorado 1.

Second Quarter:

The Mammoth stormed out with a four goal run.  Tyson Gibson opened the scoring off a Ryan Lee feed 2:03 into the quarter, followed by Ty Thompson converting a Lee feed 0:49 seconds later.  Thompson added his second of the quarter at 4:47, followed by Connor Robinson with a blast to the top corner on the power-play at 5:06. 

Thr Bandits stopped the run when Chase Fraser scored his second of the night off a Chris Cloutier pass at 10:13, followed by Cloutier himself scoring off a Dhane Smith feed at 12:33.

Eli McLaughlin tied the game up for the Mammoth off a Robert Hope pass at 13:31, followed by Chris Wardle scoring on the power-play converting a Zed Williams pass at 14:15.

At the half, Colorado 7 Buffalo 6.

Third Quarter:

In a much more defensive quarter, the teams only traded one goal each.

Brad McCulley scored on the power-play to tie the game up for Buffalo off a Josh Byrne pass at 11:36, but was answered by Zed Williams with a howitzer to the corner off a Tyson Gibson pass at 13:10.

After three quarters, Colorado 8 Buffalo 7.

Fourth Quarter:

Josh Byrne opened the fourth quarter scoring converting a Dhane Smith pass at 2:27.

Connor Robinson scored the next two goals.  His first was a shot to the stick side of Matt Vinc off a Warren Jeffrey feed at 5:43, followed by converting a Ryan Lee feed at 6:51. 

Eli McLaughlin scored the next two goals for the Mammoth.  His first was a great individual effort opened up a three goal lead off a Warren Jeffrey feed at 8:42, followed by converting a Tyson Gibson pass at 11:42 silencing the 15,000+ fans in Banditland on this night.

Anthony Joaquim added to the Mammoth lead picking up an errant Bandits pass going coast to coast scoring in transition at 13:02.

Final score Colorado 13 Buffalo 8.

Three Stars:

  1. Connor Robinson
  2. Eli McLaughlin
  3. Dillon Ward

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Buffalo 46-45.
  • Colorado edged the Bandits in Faceoffs 13-12.
  • The loose ball battle went to Buffalo 71-52.
  • Colorado went 2 for 6 on the power-play, while the Bandits went 3 for 7.

Top Scorers:

Colorado Mammoth:

  • Ryan Lee 0g, 6a
  • Eli McLaughlin 3g, 2a
  • Tyson Gibson 1g, 3a

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Josh Byrne 1g, 5a
  • Chris Cloutier 2g, 3a
  • Dhane Smith 0g, 4a

Don’t forget to check us out every Sunday night at 9pm (ET)

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.