Week two, a little less rusty and just a little less thrilling. We only say that because Week 1 treated us to four, one-goal games. Last weekend, the margins didn’t finish as closely as the majority of the games were, but it was nonetheless action-packed across the board.
We’ve got only three games on the near horizon, but before looking ahead, it’s time to reflect on what’s in the rearview mirror. The season is still very early and all of our stars haven’t made it back yet. We’re sure that the best is still yet to come.
Launch 12, Rattlers 10
Coming into their first game of the season, the Ratz didn’t look half bad. They made their mistakes, but still were only a few minutes away from a win and missing some key pieces. Rochester was without the goaltending tandem of John Galloway (Jacksonville head coach) and Blaze Riorden (Buffalo Bandits), so they called upon former Rutgers backstopper Kris Alleyne. In the rookie’s start in the crease he made 15 saves, but fell apart in the fourth quarter when the Launch went on a four goal run to steal the game over the last six minutes.
Jordan Wolf and Kyle Denhoff led the charge for Rochester, racking up a hat trick each, but so did Steve Pontrello and Greg Melaugh on the other end. No one in particular took over offensively in the game for either squad. It was a collective effort from both camps that made this one of the more interesting games of the weekend. Florida is showing signs that things are going to be different. On top of the aforementioned closeout goal spree, Chazz Woodson (2+5) connected on his only two shots, and Austin Kaut looked confident between the pipes, turning away 17 of 27 shots on goal. It’s the little things that are going to change the culture in Florida.
Rochester has a good thing going with Drew Simoneau (Nazareth ‘16) at the face-off x. He worked three different guys to win 20 of all 26 draws. Not making an immediate impact, former Lizard Jojo Marasco was held scoreless in his first game in new digs. The Rattlers could have Blaze Riorden and Dhane Smith in the lineup this weekend for the trip to Ohio, while Jordan MacIntosh, John Ranagan, and Joel White have more NLL duty. The Launch should still be without offensive stars Kieran McArdle and Connor Buczek, in the NLL playoffs with Toronto.
Outlaws 13, Lizards 7
For the second week in a row, Powell athlete Mike Bocklet absolutely ran the table. Matching his goal total from last week, Bocklet put another four into the back of the net on Saturday. This puts him tied for first in points and the sole goal-leader. Despite the first goal going for the Lizards, it was Denver constantly putting on a show for the Long Island crowd. Scoring came from all over the place for the Outlaws. When they were working together, the goals came easy, but guys like Bocklet, Noah Molnar, and Ryan Ambler were able to dodge their way from space to the sweet spot to collect some grittier ones. All-star Drew Snider was out of the line-up with coaching commitments, making even more room for other guys to make a case. Taking advantage of his first MLL game, and on his former college field, Brian VonBargen (Hofstra ‘16) notched a pair of his own. Joining him, Molnar and Matt Kavanagh also picked up a couple each. Lizards netminder Drew Adams had his hands full, facing 23 shots on goal and only stopping 10 of them.
Really the entire New York camp had their hands completely tied all game. The only multi-goal performance came from Tommy Palasek, while the offensive wizards like Rob Pannell and Joe Walters were held to a single strike, Paul Rabil and Matt Gibson were completely blanked by the Outlaws defense. Even Greg Gurenlian didn’t have the dominating performance we have grown accustomed to. While 10 of 22 is below his average win percentage, Beast was able to gun one into the net to help in the goals column. While there was a constant flow to what Denver was trying to accomplish, New York looked like this was their first time playing together. They’ve got all of their key components and have remained fairly intact since their 2015 MLL Championship. They’ll get back into the groove of things at some point, but as a team unaffected by the NLL and coaching commitments, they missed their chance to get ahead of the pack. Still riding the wave from last year’s title game, the Outlaws firing on all cylinders and are now one of just two undefeated squads.
Machine 15, Hounds 12
You know, not having John Grant Jr., Kyle Harrison, Steele Stanwick, and Tom Schreiber in and out win NLL commitments should really knock a team down a peg or two. If you look at the Machine, they may not be operating where they were last August, but they’re figuring out a pay to play with the pieces they have. This game was pretty locked up for most of the first half and the Hounds took a one goal lead heading into the break. Charlotte punched in another couple of scores on either side of a strike from the Machine, before Mark Cockerton (4+3) and company would completely turn the tables. It started with four straight connecting for Ohio, building up to a 7-2 run to steal the lead and finish out on top.
One of the highlights of the night was the fight between Ohio’s Greg Puskuldjian (15-32) and Charlotte’s Brendan Fowler (14-27) at the x. While Greg took ever attempt for the Machine, Fowler turned 5 over to Kevin Massa, winning 3. Two of the game’s best went after it like a couple of rams and it’s always a treat to see two all-stars go to work against each other.
The Machine have now turned a two-game road trip to start the season into a flawless record and get to open their homestand in a brand new stadium on Saturday. Charlotte has to stay on the road with quite possibly the most challenging way to try collect their first win, going to face (2-0) Denver.
Blaze 13, Cannons 10
Until the fourth quarter, the battle in Boston was a back and forth exchange of blows. Goals were constantly connecting with both nets and the lead kept changing hands. After three and a half quarters, Atlanta’s ace was ready to turn up. The Blaze got goalie Adam Ghitelman back this weekend and once he got his touches, there was a clear difference. The lightning quick Ghitelman saved 17 of the 26 balls thrown at him, including 5 of 6 in the final frame. This provided the spark for the Blaze to go on a 5-1 run, contributed to by a goal and assist by Powell athlete Chris Bocket.
Out with a broken hand, Kevin Rice left a major space in the Blaze offensive unit for James Pannell (1+2) to step up and fill in a big way. His former UVA-mate Greg Coholan, ratcheting in 4 goals and 1 assist to lead the scoring charge for Atlanta. Matching feet with Coholan, Matt Mackrides had a stellar night of his own with a hat trick and a pair of helpers to show for it. They’re boasting a strong defense, a well-balanced lineup, and a group of well accomplished individuals. Despite the Week 1 hiccup, it looks like the Blaze are sailing in the right direction.
It’s hard to pinpoint every where the Cannons were struggling, but we can start with possessions. After firing out at nearly 58% on draws, Joe Nardella was out of the lineup for Boston, leaving a gaping void at the midfield. The Blaze were able to take advantage, splitting the role between Chris May and Anthony Kelly, finishing over 69%. As a whole, the entire Boston camp was pretty lackluster. Joe Locascio was a beacon of hope, flying around the field in attempts to create a spark of two. Locascio (2+2) was the only Cannon with more than two points and joined Alex Zomerfield as the only guys to beat Ghitelman twice. Over 50%, Tyler Fiorito was as good as he needed to be in goal, but he couldn’t do it alone. The pressure is on for the Cannons to turn it up and to come out swinging early at home against the Bayhawks.
On either side of Cockerton, fellow attackmen Marcus Holman and former-Hound Kevin Cunningham also charged their ways to a hat trick each. Peter Baum and Patrick Kelly both added to the effort with two, while Jake Bernhardt chipped in a shot of his own. John Haus (4+3) was the one thing going right for Charlotte all game and if he had a bigger backpack, they’d likely have a win. Not only does 7 points say a lot, but his 3rd and 4th goals were half the goals in the second, coming when Charlotte needed to stop the bleeding. They have three stars in Joey Sankey, Mike Chanenchuk, and Ryan Brown, and while they each had a pair of goal, all three basically fell off in the latter half. Scott Rodgers was only stopping half of what they gave him, no one stepped up to take advantage.
Saturday, May 6th
Bayhawks @ Cannons – 7 pm, Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA
Rattlers @ Machine – 7 pm, The Fortress, Obetz, OH
Sunday, May 7th
Hounds @ Outlaws – 5 pm, Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO