Week 5 offered plenty opportunity for teams looking to making a statement. For the Hamilton Nationals, a win would prove they could defeat an upper-tier team, therefore removing any “Yeah, buts…” from the equation that anyone may want to tack on their undefeated record.
For the Chesapeake Bayhawks, it meant that they righted their ship, and their week 4 OT loss was just a bump in the road (I realize I merged two sayings there, and ships don’t travel on roads, but you get what I’m saying). For the Boston Cannons, a win meant an official return to relevance, taking down an undefeated opponent for the second straight week. For the Denver Outlaws, it meant finally beating the Cannons in Denver, one of the few remaining boxes this organization was yet to check.
In case you missed anything over the course of a busy weekend, here’s how it all went down in week 5, replete with highlights of the highest caliber:
Charlotte Hounds 14, New York Lizards 12
The scoring got started with Ryan Young picking up right where he left off: beating his defenseman around the corner and launching himself for a goal. By the way, Ryan Young has scored more goals in four games this season than he did all last year with the Lizards. That Berger trade hasn’t worked out too bad so far.
Beginning the third quarter down 10-7, Charlotte’s second-half comeback was highlighted by their younger players: Lusby and Sawyer scored two goals each (Lusby finished with three on the day), and Matt White (one of the day’s lesser-heralded rookie debuts) assisted on back to back Sawyer goals. When the game was on the line, however, it was time for the veteran to step up, and Matt Danowski tied the game After Matt Danowski scored to give the Hounds a two-goal lead, rookie Michael McCormack broke up the Lizards’ final two-point opportunity.
After going scoreless in the fourth quarter, the Lizards offense clearly still has some work to do: Stephen Berger was held scoreless, Mark Matthews’ lone goal came off a one-handed unsettled ground ball and Tommy Palasek didn’t take a single shot. I will, however, go out on a limb right now and say Rob Pannell (3g, 1a) is going to be pretty good. Remember where you heard it first, folks.
Boston Cannons 14, Denver Outlaws 24
Yikes. Well, Chris Eck won 63% (24-38) of his faceoffs in this game, and the Cannons were only down 6-5 at the end of the first quarter, so there’s that. Oh, Paul Rabil had seven points, that’s good too. Other than that, the Outlaws stomped out Boston’s “undefeated in Denver” streak, along with any momentum they may have thought they were building after last week’s OT win against the Bayhawks.
Jordan Burke returned in goal for the Cannons, and as you probably guessed from the score, it did not go well. Burke gave up four two-pointers, including a deep “oh well, only three seconds left on the clock; I’ll just chuck up some mess and cross my fingers” shot from Drew Snider. Midfield defense was once again a major problem for the Cannons. By the way, five goals last game against you, five goals this game, when are we going to start consistently putting a long stick on Drew Snider, fellas?
Simply put, Denver just had too many weapons for Boston for all to be accounted for at once, and six different Outlaws scored two or more goals. Defensively, Lee Zink held Ryan Boyle to one (power play) goal and one assist.
Hamilton Nationals 12, Chesapeake Bayhawks 11 (OT)
The outcome was tough to predict, but we all knew this shaped up to be a close game. How close? “Tied on eight different occasions” close, to be exact.
Joining the Nationals for the first time this season, Cody Jamieson assisted on their first two goals of the day and scored the third himself. Stephen Keogh contributed a career-high five goals and Kevin Cunningham, who didn’t take a single shot, sat back and handed out five assists.
The Nationals took a 10-8 lead into the fourth quarter, but Matt Mackrides (how crucial has this guy been to Chesapeake’s recent success, by the way) scored two unassisted goals about ten seconds apart. Both goalies had several fourth-quarter saves, though none bigger than Kip Turner one-on-one with Stephen Keogh (his only shot that didn’t go in) with just over 30 seconds remaining, and the game went to overtime.
The Nationals won the overtime faceoff, but Jordan Hall threw the ball over Stephen Keogh’s head and out of bounds. Chesapeake couldn’t hit the cage, the ball went back to Hamilton, and Hall made up for his previous mistake by scoring the game-winner.
The Bayhawks had their chances to put this game away early, but they repeatedly failed to take advantage of Hamilton’s penalties . Not only did Chesapeake convert on only one of six power plays, but Brett Queener was in the penalty box on two of those occasions.
Ohio Machine 7, Rochester Rattlers 9
Thanks in part to a combination of a)injuries and b)nothing else really working, the Machine trotted out six rookies for this game (including three who were making their MLL debuts), which gave the offense a bit of a “we’re having tryouts, like, right now” vibe to it, especially in the first half (although, to be fair, both teams had their share of turnover issues).
Rochester got Mike Leveille back in their lineup, and while he and brother Kevin handled a larger (especially for Kevin) share of ball-carrying duties, Ned Crotty went back to coming out of the box instead of staying at x as he’d recently done.
After being held out of the scoring column last week, Logan Schuss led all scorers with four goals on the afternoon. Meanwhile, Marcus Holman’s fortune went in the opposite direction, from a four-point game a week ago to goose eggs in the scoring column. Holman wasn’t alone in that regard; only three players scored for the Machine? Three. That’s right, three guys scored goals. By comparison, no other team had fewer than six goal-scorers this week.
So there you have it! With week five in the books, two undefeated teams remain standing. Fortunately for us, they meet up in Denver this weekend. Week 6 begins on Thursday evening in the Big Apple (it is actually in NYC), so check back soon for the preview, and don’t miss my Best MLL Games Of The Year post either. We’re there already.