For the second week in a row the New York Lizards took the best punches from a team with a losing record and came away with an 18-11 win over the Florida Launch. Florida led at the end of the first quarter, but New York tied the score to the end first half. While the Launch kept the score close in the third, the Lizards’ offense put in eight goals in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The Florida rookies launched themselves into their first MLL season and tried their best to dethrone the league leading Lizards in the fourth quarter. Greg Gurenlian won the Face Off Academy Civil War part two and fed New York’s ball hungry offense. So far this season Gurenlian’s victories have been more decisive than the Battle Sardarabad (Google Armenian victory over the Turks…General Sherman references don’t work here…now you know). Drew Adams recorded sixteen save as he put up a brick wall in front of his crease. Despite the loss, Florida had some bright spots in the game. Adam Fullerton also had sixteen saves in relief of Brett Queener after an ankle injury sidelined the All Star goalie. Launch rookies Lyle Thompson, Conner Buczek, and Chad Tutton all scored and gave the fans a preview of what the offense will look like when this team develops familiarity with each other. Even in what some predicted as a trap game, New York possessed the fire power to win. The Lizards accept the challenge of being the league leaders and have taken both Charlotte and Florida’s best shots and won.
The Ohio Machine and Rochester Rattlers are both tied in second as the games this week end helped force the log jam down to third place. Ohio kept place with the scrappy Hounds as Charlotte proved that they will not roll over for anyone. This was one of the closest games of the weekend and one of that helped sort out the league standings. Charlotte had a two goal lead at half time thanks to Henry Lobb’s two point shot. The former Duke Blue Devil took the ball cross midfield as time was expiring in the half and launched a shot from beyond the arc that scored. It looked as though Charlotte would be able to earn a win against Ohio. Despite the size if the fight in the Hounds, the Machine churned out more goals in the second half and won by a score of 14-12. MVP Jake Bernhardt scored three fourth quarter goals as Ohio grounded the Hounds offense in the second half. The Machine offense is looking more like last season’s league leading offense even without Peter Baum who is dealing with an injury. This win puts the Machine in a tie with Rochester for second place. Ohio is peaking at the right time of the season and looking look a strong candidate to make the play offs along with Rochester.
The Rochester Rattlers gained a measure of revenge against the Boston as they defeated the Cannons 13-6. The Rattlers made a statement that they are back to full strength and ready to make their run for the championship. The difference in this second meeting was the Rattlers’ defense had more bite. John Galloway made fifteen saves and sparked defense that returned to its former fearsome form. Boston’s offense could not establish any sort of flow against the Rochester defense in the first quarter and could not find much traction in the latter stages. Jordan Wolf led the Wolf pack attack for Rattlers with four unassisted goals in the first half. Boston responded by assigning freshly returned Brodie Merrill on Wolf in the second half. The rangy defenseman locked onto Wolf at the beginning of the second half. The results were a little better as Wolf only scored three points (1 goal and 2 assists). The Rattlers and Machine are looking like playoff teams and are odds on favorites to meet New York in the finals. Boston falls into a three way tie for third with Denver and Chesapeake.
Denver continues to struggle for wins as they dropped a crucial matchup to Chesapeake by a score of 15-12. Chesapeake fielded their most complete team with Kevin Crowley flying in from Canada and Adam Rand being resigned. Rand proved a welcome addition in his return to the Bayhawks as he went 12-27 on face offs. This proved to be a huge difference in this meeting as Denver and Anthony Kelly dominated this facet of the game in the previous meeting. The difference in the possession game combined with uncharacteristic turnovers made it difficult for Denver’s offense to get on track. Kevin Crowley made his Bayhawk debut with some big hits that ignited his teammates and set the tone to not let up the pressure on the Outlaws. Crowley hit everyone he could lower the boom onto except for the officials and fans. Team Bocklet played well and accounted for half of Denver’s points. The problem was the Chesapeake was firing on all aspects of the game and put out their most complete performance and Tyler Fiorito continues to show prove why he made this year’s All Star team. Chesapeake is also peaking at the right time while Denver needs to find some answers and consistent play if they want to make a run at the finals.
The table is set for the finals and there are only four seats. New York has one of them claimed, but the other three are up for grabs. Rochester and Ohio are strong teams that have the ability to claim their seats. Denver, Boston, and Chesapeake are all capable of taking the other spot but only the Bayhawks emerged out of the weekend looking like they have what it takes to claim the last seat. Charlotte and Florida are long shots to make the last four teams standing, but their performances show that they have talent and are not going to quit. Look for both of these teams to upset anyone that does not come prepared to play a full sixty minutes. Grab a helmet and strap yourselves in for the second half of the season because it will prove more intense that the first half.