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Hamilton Bursts By Boston: Hello Playoffs!

The Hamilton Nationals improved to 9-3 on the season, and clinched a spot at Championship Weekend (in Philly on Aug 24-25th), with a 17-12 win over the visiting Boston Cannons this past weekend. Hamilton roared out to a huge first quarter lead, and Boston never caught up, dropping to 5-7 on the year, and in desperate need of a strong run to end the year, if the Cannons want to make the playoffs.

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

Garrett Thul proved his game works just as well at the pro level as it in college, as he dropped five goals on the night, with one of them being a vicious two-pointer. Thul could certainly thrive in the MLL, but he may not be a regular in the league down the road, due to his Army Ranger responsibilities. It will be interesting to keep an eye on. Brett Queener scored his first  MLL regular season goal, the Nats’ offense was balanced, their D was tenacious, and Hamilton looked like a real title contender for much of the contest.

After a brutal first quarter, it looked like Boston might get back into the game early in the second, when they cut the lead to 6-2, but Hamilton answered back with three more goals, and eventually took a 10-5 lead into the half. The third quarter also showed glimpses of promise for Boston, but Hamitlon continued to answer the bell with goals, and led 13-8, going into the fourth, keeping the advantage at 5 goals, as it had been at the other two quarter breaks.

Each team managed four goals in the final frame, but it did nothing to change the final margin, as Hamilton walked away with a well-earned five goal win, a lead they built in the first, and would never relinquish.

While Matt Poskay, and the rest of the Cannons big names struggled for much of the night, Poskay did set a record as the player to dress in the most Boston games ever, passing current Vermont Head Coach and former Cannons defender, Ryan Curtis. Poskay had two goals on the night.

Cam Flint, Mike Stone, and Kevin Buchanan led the Cannons with three points apiece, but the Boston struggles on O were definitely coming from their star players. Paul Rabil had a two point goal, but those were his only points of the night, and he took 10 shots, 9 of which were on cage. The Cannons poles and d-mids were also shut down offensively, and the Nats did a great job of getting back in the hole. After Scott Ratliff scored an early goal, NO other d-mid or pole even registered a single point. That’s a weird night for Boston.

Hamilton, on the other hand, got a huge game from Thul, and also got five points from Kevin Cunningham, who distributed well, and wasn’t fazed by Boston’s aggressive D. Whereas Boston had six players with two points or more (and no one with more than 3), Hamilton had eight, and two of those guys combined for 11 points. When guys do their jobs, it all adds up. When key players don’t deliver, it makes a win even tougher. Simple, but in the MLL, it’s very true.

Early on, this game looked like it could be the typical Walters-Crowley-Jamieson show, especially after Crowley opened the scoring, but Thul and Cunningham were on this night, left alone too often, and answered, while guys like Roy Lang and Jordan Hall contributed important goals. Brett Queener played a great game, and the Hamilton D was tough, and rangy. Brodie Merrill played a great game on the wings of face offs and marking offensive threats.

Hamilton got back on track with this win, as they imposed their will on a very good team, to clinch a playoff spot. Boston hosts Ohio this weekend, and it’s very much a must win game for the Cannons if they want to make the playoffs this year. Hamilton heads to Charlotte to take on the Hounds, who are in a similar situation to Boston, in that they need wins.

Will Hamilton take their foot off the gas now that they have made the playoffs? Boston, for one, is hoping they don’t.