NLL: Mammoth take first half of home-and-home with Warriors

Joey Cupido guards Logan Schuss. Colorado Mammoth @ Vancouver Warriors, March 22, 2019. (Photo credit: Vancouver Warriors)

Friday night we had playoff atmosphere lacrosse in Vancouver as the Colorado Mammoth (5-8) defeated the Vancouver Warriors (4-9) 11-7 in front of 5,800 fans at Rogers Arena.

This was a huge win for the Mammoth as both teams will face each other again tonight, but this time in the famed “Loud House” in Colorado. With the win, Colorado tied the season series at a game apiece and hold a one game lead for the final playoff spot with the rubber match tonight. The winner tonight will hold the tie-breaker.

Vancouver clearly took control in the early going scoring twice in 25 seconds for a quick two-goal lead, but as the game progressed so did the Mammoth’s offense and the goaltending of Dillon Ward.

“It was a great game,” said Ward. “It was a pretty close game until the end there when we were able to pull away a little bit. We knew what we were getting into. It was a playoff game. We’re both jockeying for that final playoff spot, and [the Mammoth] came out on top tonight.

“[Defense] was good. We came out with a game plan, and I think we executed it very well. I think that shows in the seven goals we gave up tonight.”

Colorado led 4-3 after the first and outscored Vancouver 3-1 in the second for a 7-4 lead at half, giving them all the momentum.

Ryan Lee recorded a hat trick in the first half alone which extended his scoring streak to 12 straight games. Lee also led all scorers with seven points.

“We had lots of energy coming out,” said Lee. “This is the first quarter we put together as a whole. If we keep playing like that, putting up four or more in the first, we’re going to keep winning from there.”

Vancouver pulled within a goal at 8-7 as Logan Schuss completed a hat trick, but that was as close as Vancouver would get on this night.

In the fourth quarter, rookie Kyle Killen had the play of the game, firing a behind-the-back rocket that reminded the Vancouver announcers of a young John Grant Jr.

Cory Vitarelli and Ryan Lee would net the final two goals to seal the victory for the Mammoth.

Lee’s four goals and three assists led the Mammoth. Jeff Wittig and Kyle Killen each had a pair of goals. Wittig chipped in with three assists as well. Dillon Ward stopped 41 of 48 shots and picked up two assists for the win.

A win by the Mammoth tonight will not only give them the tie-breaker over Vancouver, but will give them a two game lead for the final playoff spot over the Warriors with four games remaining.

Colorado is only one game behind Calgary for the third spot in the West and Colorado owns the tie-breaker. The Mammoth sit only 1.5 games behind the Rush who they play on April 6 (home), and April 27 (away). The Rush took the first meeting in February 9-7.