The Vancouver Warriors (1-3) traveled to Denver, Colorado, to face the Mammoth (3-1) in National Lacrosse League (NLL) action Saturday night, at the “Loud House” in the Pepsi Center, in front of 11,157 fans.
Vancouver was coming off an overtime loss to San Diego, in which they played well enough to win but for a few errors, showing off their grittier play, as well as their new offensive prowess with Keegan Bal, and Mitch Jones. Colorado, to no one’s surprise, has been a force behind players like Jacob Ruest, Chris Wardle, Ryan Lee, and transition specialist Joey Cupido. Dillon Ward had been steady in net for the Mammoth, showing mid-season form, though it’s only the beginning of the season. This was a physical contest from the start, with both teams trying to establish a physical presence. Although the Warriors got off to a fast start and put up a good fight, the Mammoth prevailed 13-9.
Keegan Bal (2g,3a) opened the game’s scoring for the Warriors when he bounced a shot in, just off the crease at 3:18. Vancouver increased the lead when Jordan McBride (2g,0a) dipped and dunked a shot past Dillon Ward (Mammoth goalie) just 0:38 seconds later. Mike Mallory passed across the floor to Logan Schuss (3g,2a), who fired an outside shot past Ward 0:10 seconds after that. The Warriors continued the early onslaught when Jordan McBride scored his second of the game, converting a Mitch Jones pass at 5:36 making the score 4-0, quieting the “Loud House” to a whisper.
At this point Colorado made a goal change, putting Tyler Carlson in net, giving Ward a bit of a break for a few minutes. Ward then resumed his duties in the cage.
The Mammoth then settled down the rest of the quarter, playing tighter defense, giving their offense a chance to get to work.
Colorado got their first goal of the game when Will Malcom (2g,0a) converted a Dan Coates pass at 13:44, then Ryan Lee passed to Eli McLaughlin (2g,2a) who beat Eric Penney (Warriors goaltender) at 13:58 to make the score 4-2.
Vancouver got one back in transition when Captain Matt Beers (1g,0a) came down the floor firing a laser in at 14:30.
After one quarter, Vancouver 5 Colorado 2.
The second quarter opened up with Logan Schuss increasing the Warriors lead, when he fired a no-look fade away shot at the net, beating Dillon Ward at 0:30 seconds, but the Mammoth answered back when Captain Dan Coates (1g,1a) fired a Joey Cupido pass in at 2:46, then Cupido (3g,2a) himself scored a shorthanded goal off a long lead pass from Dillon Ward at 4:19, narrowing the score to 6-4. Joey Cupido set up the next Mammoth goal passing to Jordan Gilles (1g,2a) scoring in transition at 10:23 making it just a one-goal game.
The “Loud House” had returned!
Eric Penney made a couple of sensational saves near the end of the quarter, to keep the lead intact heading into halftime.
At the half, Vancouver 6 Colorado 5.
The Vancouver Warriors opened the third quarter scoring when Keegan Bal (2g,3a) converted a Logan Schuss pass at 1:03, but Chris Wardle (1g,1a) answered back for Colorado firing a shot past Penney at 2:03. Will Malcom tied the game up for the Mammoth when he converted a Kyle Killen pass at 6:45.
Both Dillon Ward and Eric Penney stood tall throughout the quarter making huge saves, keeping the game close.
Joey Cupido took a long lead pass from Jordan Gilles scoring his second shorthanded goal of the game at 10:14, giving Colorado their first lead of the night 8-7.
Logan Schuss scored his third of the night for Vancouver converting a Keegan Bal pass at 13:50 to tie the game up once more, setting up a dramatic finish to come in the fourth quarter.
After three quarters, Colorado 8 Vancouver 8.
Ryan Lee (1g,2a) opened the fourth quarter scoring for the Mammoth, firing a shot over the Shoulder of Eric Penney to the top corner at 2:46, followed by Eli McLaughlin scoring his second of the night, firing a howitzer off a Ryan Lee pass at 4:03, making the score 10-8 for Colorado.
Mitch Jones (1g,3a) brought the Warriors within one when he scored a powerplay goal off a Keegan Bal pass at 6:01, but the Mammoth defense got stingier as the game went on, batting down pass after pass.
Jeff Wittig (1g,2a) tiptoed across the crease line, converting an Eli McLaughlin pass at 11:44, giving Colorado a two-goal lead, followed by Joey Cupido scoring his third of the night into an empty net at 13:54. Jacob Ruest (1g,0a) blasted one final shot past Penney for good measure at 14:20
Final score, Colorado 13 Vancouver 9.
Shots on goal were in favor of Vancouver 47-46.
The loose ball battle went to the Warriors 85-65.
Faceoffs were even at 13 each.
Vancouver went 2 for 4 on the powerplay but gave up 2 shorthanded goals as well.
Colorado went 0 for 1 on the powerplay.
The Three Stars:
1. Joey Cupido T Colorado
2. Logan Schuss F Vancouver
3. Will Malcom F Colorado
Logan Schuss 3g, 2a
Keegan Bal 2g, 3a
Mitch Jones 1g, 3a
Joey Cupido 3g, 2a
Eli McLaughlin 2g, 2a
Will Malcom 2g, 0a
Vancouver’s next game is at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, against the Wings on Friday, January 10th. Game time is 7 pm (EST).
Colorado’s next game is at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia against the Thunderbirds on Saturday, January 11th. G