This upcoming Sunday, the Boston Rockhoppers (4-1) head to Baltimore to face the Bombers (3-2). Maybe it’s a little overdramatic (seeing as these teams are still only five games old and all), but you could say these two franchises are well on their way to developing a very serious rivalry, replete with history.
Game one was decided in overtime, with Baltimore’s Andrew Wasik converting on a two-man advantage that ruined Boston’s home debut. Interesting note: Wasik used to play for Boston. Game two started off just as tight as the first one, and the teams were tied at seven going into the halftime, when the Rockhoppers shifted into a completely different gear. Since they came out of that locker room to begin the third quarter, Boston’s outscored their opponents by the score of 33-9 (granted they beat the Kingfish 20-7, but the stat just looks much cooler when you don’t really pick it apart) and earned sole possession of first place in the league.
Boston is the only team to score 20 goals, and they’ve now done it twice in a row. They’ve been almost as impressive on the other side of the ball, with a defense that’s held their opponent to single-digit production in each of the past three games. And as great as that all sounds, they’ll still drop to second place with a loss on Sunday.
When it comes to game three, the teams you’ll see this weekend aren’t exactly the same as the ones that battled early last month in Boston, or even a few weeks ago in Baltimore. For the Rockhoppers, Tim Fallon handled face-offs and Nick Schroeder was in cage for the first game, while Peter Vlahakis and Vince Talbot handled face-off and goal duties, respectively, during the rematch. Baltimore should have Matt Hickman (he sat out the last meeting with Boston) in their lineup this time, and Boston’s Ryan Hoffmeister, who scored three points in his debut last week, will provide another offensive threat for the Bombers to deal with.
With both teams beefing up and changing around their lineups, can the Bombers regain first place this weekend? It comes down to a few questions:
First, can they contain the Rockhopper face-off game? In their last meeting, Boston’s Peter Vlahakis won 74% of his draws and scored a goal and two assists.
Second, can they put enough shots on goal? Not saying they’ll need 70 like against Kentucky two weeks ago, but they’ll probably need more than the 40 they put on cage in game two if they’re going to beat Vince Talbot.
Finally, how short are the Bombers’ memories? Can they leave that ultra-chippy game two in the past or are they looking to pick up where they left off? It’s going to be a long day for the Baltimore defense if a few of their players set up camp in the penalty box again.
Will the Bombers be the first team in this series to defend home turf, or will the Rockhoppers remain the only NALL team yet to lose on the road? Will Boston establish their dominance in the league, or will Baltimore take over that tenuous spot at the top? We’ll find out this Sunday at 3:00 pm. If you’re not near Baltimore, catch the game live at www.accesslacrosse.com.