Zed Williams scored four goals, Chris Wardle added five assists and Dillon Ward recorded 55 saves in net as the visiting Colorado Mammoth took the decisive Game 3 of the National Lacrosse League Finals, 10-8, to claim the NLL Cup in front of a sellout crowd of 19,070 at KeyBank Arena and nationwide television audiences in the U.S and Canada on ESPNU, ESPN+ and TSN on Saturday night. For his efforts, Ward was named NLL Finals MVP.
With the triumph, Colorado claims its third NLL title, winning the series, two games to one; the franchise also won NLL championships in 1987 (when located in Baltimore) and 2006.
Colorado took the lead for good in the second quarter, erasing a 3-2 deficit with five goals in the period by five different scorers (Brett McIntyre, Sam Firth, Dylan Kinnear, Tyson Gibson and Anthony Joaquin) for a 7-5 halftime advantage. After Buffalo tied the game on a power play tally by Chris Cloutier for the only marker of the third period and a goal by Connor Fields in the first 30 seconds of the fourth, consecutive goals by Williams and Wardle re-established the two-goal lead for Colorado. Williams tossed in an empty-netter with 26 seconds left before Kyle Buchanan’s blast with seven ticks remaining provided the final margin.
Buffalo, the overall No. 1 seed at 14-4 during the regular season, got three goals from Buchanan and three assists from Josh Byrne. Matt Vinc made 29 saves in defeat.
With the announced sellout crowd, the overall attendance for the Finals totals a cumulative record of 42,246. The three game Finals average of 14,475 is second only to 16,393 for the 2019 Finals between Calgary and Buffalo, and surpasses the average 14,052 from the two game Finals in 2016 between Saskatchewan and Buffalo.
Colorado, which finished 10-8 in the regular season, qualified for the NLL Playoffs as the No. 3 West seed. They proceeded to win at No. 2 West Calgary in the first round, upended the top West seed San Diego, 2-1 in the best-of-three West Conference Finals, then after dropping the first game of the NLL Finals won the last two to take the crown.
The decisive third game marked the third time since 2014 that the NLL Finals have gone the distance, and the first time that two U.S. based clubs met in the Finals since 2013 (Rochester d. Washington, 11-10 in a single-game Finals).
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