Three of this weekend’s games followed very similar formulas: fairly close and low-scoring in the first half, with one team pulling away in the second. In the fourth game, one team flat-out whooped up on their overwhelmed opponent, who eventually clawed back into making the final respectable.
If you didn’t see the games, you’d probably never guess which game that fourth one was. Well, you’d guess at some point, because you only have four options, but you know what I mean.
Here’s what you may have missed this weekend:
Chesapeake Bayhawks 9 – New York Lizards 3
We’re only two games in, and Ben Rubeor’s almost halfway to the best goal-scoring season of his career. Rubeor, whose previous-high was three goals in a game, scored seven on Saturday night against the New York Lizards. Obviously that’s a ridiculous amount of goals, but it’s pretty much the Chesapeake offense in a nutshell: in week one, Kyle Dixon hits three two-pointers to lead the team to a victory. In week two, Dixon goes scoreless and Rubeor drops seven. It’s always someone’s week to shine!
The first half of the game was a high-intensity defensive battle, as New York trailed Rubeor 3-2 going into the break (Ben Hunt had a goal too; it just sounds funnier the first way). Tommy Palasek scored in the third to make it a one-goal game, and then the Lizards never scored again.
New York was missing a few of their big names (most notably Stephen Peyser, Mark Matthews and Matt Gibson), but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and Kip Turner and the Bayhawks defense tied the MLL record for fewest goals allowed in a game. Giving up only three goals is even more impressive when you consider the Lizards had nine power plays, including a two-minute unsportsmanlike and a three-minute illegal stick call, and failed to convert on a single one.
Denver Outlaws 13 – Ohio Machine 8
Considering the Outlaws already had a scrimmage against Chesapeake and a 21-point performance in Charlotte under their belts, Ohio’s season debut was an uphill battle from the start. Denver relied on nine different goal scorers, took more than twice as many shots, used the standard shutdown defense from Zink & Co. (Stanwick and Woodson were held to just one goal each), and dominant faceoff play (Kelly and Robarge combined to go 17-25), on the way to their second win of the season.
If you’re looking for some bright sides for the Machine, they hung with the Outlaws in the first half, going into the break only down 5-4 (five goals is Denver’s lowest first-half point total in eight games), and with two goals in his first MLL game, supplemental draft pick, Jeff Ledwick could provide some of the midfield depth the Machine have been looking for. The Denver offense just had too many extra possessions and opportunities (especially in the second half), and after scoring the first three goals of the third quarter, built a lead the Machine simply couldn’t overcome.
Hamilton Nationals 15 – Boston Cannons 8
In six games last season, midfielder Martin Cahill scored two goals for the Boston Cannons. On Saturday night, he scored three against them.
Cahill’s hat trick was the tip of the iceberg for a Boston squad that found themselves in a 10-3 deficit at the end of the first half, which Boston coach Steve Duffy rightfully called one of the worst he’s seen in Cannons’ history. Kevin Ross scored a hat trick in his first MLL game since 2010, Brett Queener finished with 18 saves (including ten in the fourth quarter) and Kevin Crowley looked like he was playing against children (and not children he was particularly fond of) as he proceeded to score seven of the most casual-looking points you’ll ever see someone score.
Ari Sussman put the Cannons on his back in the third quarter (three goals, two unassisted) and Paul Rabil finished with five points, but Boston goes where Ryan Boyle takes them, and he’s off to a slow start in 2013. Last season Boyle averaged just under four assists per game in Boston’s wins, one assist per game in their losses. On Saturday? You guessed it, one assist. Chris Eck returned to the lineup and went 11-25 on faceoffs, Jordan Burke was pulled in the third quarter for Mike Gabel, and the Cannons start their season 0-2 for the first time since 2009.
Charlotte Hounds 15 – Rochester Rattlers 8
When your team’s #1 option is out of the lineup, you always wonder if the rest of the players on a team are going to fold up or raise their game accordingly. With Matt Danowski out with a coaching commitment, the Hounds chose option number two. Brian Carroll tied a career-high with three goals, Eric Lusby scored a career-high three points and Peet Poillon (who scored six points the last time he played the Rattlers), scored seven points on Sunday, including two two-pointers.
Robert Rotanz and Ned Crotty each scored two goals for Rochester, but Mark Millon (zero shots) and the Leveille brothers (a combined one goal, one assist performance) just had no answer for Adam Ghitelman and Charlotte’s swarming close defense. Rochester’s John Ortolani (13-24) narrowly won the faceoff battle, but former Rattler Tim Fallon scored a momentum-halting goal immediately following a behind-the-back Jordan Macintosh tally, so, all in all, the day went pretty well for him.
Charlotte’s three two-pointers mean the Rattlers have allowed eight this season, two more than the rest of the league… combined. Rochester won’t have to wait long for a rematch; the teams are running it back and playing in Charlotte next weekend. Stopping the two seems like a good place to start.
I’ll be back each week with more MLL coverage, so stay tuned!