Best Mammoth 2014 | John Grant Jr. | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

We hand this prize to John Grant year after year, for a very good reason: Not only is he the best player on his team, but he's among the top performers in the entire sport. During the 2013 season, he led the Mammoth in goals, assists, points and shots on goal, was twice named the National Lacrosse League's offensive player of the week, and currently stands as the NLL's all-time leader in career points per game. As a bonus, his one-handed, behind-the-back goal during a game in January is already the stuff of lacrosse legend.

No need to remind Chris Bocklet that he's a little brother. One of his older siblings, Matt Bocklet, is a member of the Outlaws, too. But Chris didn't just best big bro in points scored; he led the entire team in that category. Thanks to his performances, he's gone from being a steady contributor to an absolute key to the lacrosse team's success. And last year, as a bonus, he served as offensive coordinator for Wheat Ridge High School's squad, which won the state's 4A championship. Clearly, winning breeds winning.

The Denver Roller Dolls' traveling all-star team, the Mile High Club, spent all of 2013 near the top of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association rankings, won the Division 1 playoffs, and finished fourth at the WFTDA Championships. Now, five skaters — Julie "Angela Death" Adams, Jes "Bea Ware" Rivas, Shaina "Eeklips" Serelson, Tracy "Disco" Akers and Jerica "Urrk'n Jerk'n As Booty Block Ya" Martin — are joining Team USA for the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup. This season marks some big changes for the squad: After closing out a contract with the 1STBANK Center last year, the Dolls will be hosting all home bouts at their Glitterdome practice facility, taking their sport back to its warehouse roots.

Blocker/jammer Toxic Taunic got her start in 2010 and came in like a wrecking ball last season as team captain for the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls' 5280 Fight Club all-star team. Although crosstown rivals the Denver Roller Dolls' Mile High Club fared better on the national scene, Taunic helped to ensure that the Rollergirls got local bragging rights with a 207-201 squeaker in June at the Fillmore and an even closer 165-164 win at RollerCon in Las Vegas in August. Watch for the rematch when Denver's two premier leagues face off again on June 26 at RollerCon.

We're still trying to forget the way the Broncos' season ended: No matter how many times we blink, we still can't un-see Seattle scoring 43 points to Denver's 8 in the most widely viewed Super Bowl ever. But the season as a whole was spectacular, with Peyton Manning and a slew of pass-catchers, including Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker, turning the scoreboard into a light display and the defense giving points back at a pace that managed to keep the games suspenseful while still preserving victories. The result was exciting in all the ways the Super Bowl wasn't.

Not long ago, CU was regarded as a football school. Now that tradition lies not just broken, but shattered. So thank goodness for the men's basketball team. In the past few years, the hardwood Buffs have grown from surprising upstarts into a consistent squad whose members absolutely expect to be playing at tournament time. This season likely would have been even more impressive had top prospect Spencer Dinwiddie avoided a season-ending knee injury. Yet promising youngsters such as Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon suggest that the future will be even brighter than the present.

It's only been three years since Tad Boyle became head coach of CU's men's basketball squad. But in that time, he's managed to remake the team in his image, infusing the program with the winning spirit he learned from the legendary Larry Brown while a player at Kansas. The back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013 were the first double dip for CU in half a century, and we expect more records to fall the longer Boyle sticks around Boulder.

Fans can debate whether Patrick Roy was the best Avalanche player ever, but there's no denying that he was the most fiery and charismatic — and these qualities happen to be just what was needed to inspire the current generation of Avs. Prior to Roy's second coming, the talents of individual players didn't seem to translate into wins. But since his return to Colorado, announced via a glass-shaking freakout that made sportscasts nationwide, the team has started to reach its potential. A Stanley Cup is still a ways off, but at last the Avs are headed in the right direction. And Roy's a big reason why.

Usually, this honor goes to the folks who call games on TV or radio — like, for instance, last year's winner, Voice of the Colorado Avalanche Mike Haynes. Kyle Speller, in contrast, is the Nuggets' public-address announcer — but for those who see the team live at the Pepsi Center, he's nearly as big a contributor to a great time as Supermascot Rocky. His vocal whoops and swoops when the squad is doing well are enthusiasm-igniters, his downbeat tone when the other team comes through lets fans know he feels their pain, and when the "Kiss Cam" is switched on, even Barry White couldn't set the mood better.

When Lionel Bienvenu came to Denver way back in 2001 after a high-profile stint with Fox Sports, he initially seemed to be trying a little too hard to import cable-TV snark to a traditional local-news broadcast. But as the years have gone on, either Bienvenu has mellowed or we have. He's still plenty witty, but he doesn't let the pursuit of humor get in the way of finding what's most interesting in any game. Better yet, he's eager to share his opinions about the sports news of the day, and he doesn't pull his punches just to keep the area franchises happy.

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