Colorado Mammoth Season Preview
Professional lacrosse has been absent since the MLL’s championship game on September 14. That was ages ago. Thankfully, the NLL season rapidly approaches. With three new teams (two if you don’t count Rochester) we are in the midst of unprecedented NLL popularity. This season comes loaded with questions. Will Calgary repeat? Will an American team finally win it all? How will the new franchises perform? With all these questions, it’s time for my NLL franchise previews so fans are informed before opening faceoff. Last time, we investigated the Philadelphia Wings. Now, we head west to checkout my hometown team, the Colorado Mammoth.
Colorado limped into the 2019 playoffs with a 6-12 record (3-6 both at home and road). Lucky for them, the Vancouver Warriors were even worse. Despite not deserving of a playoff spot, the Mammoth shocked the lacrosse world when they visited Saskatoon and beat the defending champs, the Saskatchewan Rush, 11-10 in overtime. The Cinderella story ended in Calgary, when the Roughnecks shut down the Mammoth. The 4-8 final was a microcosm of Colorado’s 2018 season: great defense and horrendous offense.
Expect the impressive defense to return. The Mammoth recently resigned goaltender Dillon Ward to a four-year extension. Ward catches flack from fans, but his play keeps Colorado in the majority of games. Ward had a .775 save percentage in 2018, which is more than enough to win.
Protecting Ward will be Tim Edwards (4 assists, 76 loose balls last season) and Dan Coates (1 goal, 10 assists, 69 loose balls last season). Both will continue to harass opposing forwards. Keep an eye on Warren Jeffrey, Colorado’s first round pick in this year’s draft. Jeffrey will be thrown to the wolves, as he starts his career against a motivated Saskatchewan Rush group. Joey Cupido (3 goals, 14 assists, 98 loose balls last season) returns and will play a huge part in pushing transition. Cupido is an elite transition specialist who carries the ball to the offensive end quicker than most.
The offense must help this impressive defense. Colorado had the league’s second worst offense in 2018. They scored 181 goals. That isn’t good enough. Offensive stalwarts Eli McLaughlin (35 goals, 41 assists last season), Ryan Lee (27 goals, 32 assists last season), and Kyle Killen (28 goals, 21 assists last season) return. Their play wasn’t enough last year, but there is hope. Jett Wittig (8 goals, 13 assists last season) was a bright spot on offense. 2019 will be his first full NLL season. Despite those four, Colorado needs new addition Dylan Molloy (New York Lizards) to contribute immediately. The former Tewaaraton winner will draw double teams, providing offensive opportunities for teammates. It’ll be up to Molloy to draw these doubles and find the open man. Will Malcom, Colorado’s second round pick, looks to play a pivotal role early. We shall see if he’s ready for NLL play.
For a team looking to improve, 2019 couldn’t have a tougher start. The Mammoth open with the Saskatchewan Rush, Calgary Roughnecks, and Georgia Swarm. Saskatchewan is at home. That is an absolute gauntlet. I don’t see Colorado winning any of those. Fortunately, the following games are against Vancouver, at Halifax, and at Vancouver. Those three are winnable. To make up for an 0-3 start, Colorado must win those three.
As much as I love my hometown team, I can’t in good faith, predict Colorado finishing any better than last in the west. If you read my Vancouver preview, you’d know I expect them to surprise people. Calgary and Saskatchewan are juggernauts. San Diego will be solid. The NLL West is the SEC West of lacrosse. Someone has to finish last; unfortunately, until Colorado’s offense improves, I don’t see them winning much. With more teams this season, it will be harder for an undeserving squad to make the playoffs.
Do you agree with my takeaways? Disagree? Are you a Colorado fan and looking to talk Mammoth lacrosse? Whatever your thoughts, make them known by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. Also, you can subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. I will be at Colorado’s home opener, so stay tuned for a special feature on the experience. Thank you for reading and happy Thanksgiving!