On Saturday, the Boston Cannons and New York Lizards will return to action for their first game since the MLL took a break for the FIL Championships in Denver, Colorado. The Lizards enter the game on a hot streak having won three straight games and finding themselvs in sole possession of third palce in the standings at 6-4. Meanwhile, the Cannons are an even 5-5 on the season and a winner of two of their last three games. Can the Cannons pull into a third place tie with the Lizards by the end of Saturday night?
In the team’s only other meeting this season, the Cannons fell to the Lizards by one goal by a score of 11-10. This time around, the field will be absent of quite of a few stars on both sides. The Lizards will be without Ned Crotty, Rob Pannell, Drew Adams, Max Seibald, Kyle Hartzell and Greg Gurenlian. Meanwhile, the Cannons will be without Paul Rabil, Kevin Buchanan, Brodie Merrill, Chris Eck and Mitch Belisle.
At first glance, the Lizards may really struggle without Pannell, Seibald and Crotty. All three rank in the team’s Top 5 in scoring, especially Pannell, who has 43 points so far on the season. Pannell has exploded over the past four games as he has recorded eight, four and two games of six points a piece! Seibald and Crotty have 20 and 18 points respectively for the Lizards. Without those three players, Jo Jo Marasco, Matt Striebel and recently acquired Michael Kimmel will have to carry the burden on offense as the attack unit will only have Tommy Palasek as its main option.
Defensively, the Lizards remain intact but will be without a key piece in Adams. Adams makes some incredible saves that erases many of the Lizards mistakes. Without him, the defense will suffer and could find itself giving up a lot of goals on Saturday night.
Now to be fair, the Cannons will be without Rabil and Buchanan but still have Will Manny and former Lizard Stephen Berger on the roster. The two of them have combined for 68 points on the season and will give the Lizards defense all it can handle. Fortunately for the Lizards, there isn’t much else firepower on the offensive end besides Manny and Berger as no one else on the team has more than eight points on the season.
Defensively, the Cannons will have their normal starting goalie in Jordan Burke but will be missing two key pieces in Belisle and Merrill. Merrill has helped greatly improve the defense this year, which was a reason for the Cannons failure in 2013.
With playoff implications on the line, Saturday night’s game will be hard fought but with a lack of firepower outside of Manny and Berger on the offensive end for the Cannons, the Lizards have the advantage. Look for the Lizards to continue their hot streak while possibly putting the Cannons in a four way tie for the last spot in MLL Championship Weekend.