The Denver Outlaws (12-0) travel to New York to take on the Lizards (3-9) in the season finale between the two clubs Aug. 4 in New York.
“I think these guys are motivated to beat everybody they play against,” Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said. “If that’s the case, since we were 8-0 everybody was more motivated to show up and play against us. That part of it doesn’t concern me, what concerns me is the changes in the (Lizards) lineup.”
While the Outlaws have dominated the all-time matchup with the Lizards 12-2, the last time they lost in the regular season came in New York on June 23, 2012. New York has been eliminated from the post season, while Denver will be entering as the No. 1 seed but Stagnitta still expects the competition to be high.
“I know that they’re (New York) rolling some different people through there and really trying to figure out what direction they want to go in next year, so that along is going to motivate the guys that are out on the field to play at a high level,” Stagnitta said. “In a lot of ways they’re probably running it almost like try-outs.”
New York is riding a five-game losing streak into the game, while Denver is coming off a narrow victory that required a come-back after an early deficit to win. The last two games for the Outlaws have been victories by three goals and two goals, respectively, which is in stark contrast to the blow-out victories early in the season. However, finding a way to come out on top is the Outlaws main focus, Stagnitta explained.
“I think from a team standpoint, we are going to have tough games, there are going to be days where we didn’t play well,” Stagnitta said. “…we need to continue to be able to beat the teams at that level on a consistent basis, be it by one goal or ten goals, it’s going to say in the box score that we won the game and that’s the bottom line.”
Coming off a Defensive Player of the Week performance over Chesapeake, Denver defenseman Lee Zink, and the defense, will be looking for a similar performance versus New York attackman Rob Pannell and the offense he leads. Goalie Jesse Schwartzman has been in top form most of the season, which will undoubtedly add another layer of difficulty to any Lizards attack.
Attackmen Chis Bocklet and Brendan Mundorf lead the Outlaws in scoring with 44 and 41 points respectively, however both were held without a point in last-weeks win over Chesapeake. Denver found offense from various contributors in lieu of the All-Stars offensive absence in the scoring column, as fellow All-Star midfielder Jeremy Sieverts stepped up to lead the Outlaws with a four goal performance.
While neither team has much to gain or lose from a win or loss – as Denver has locked up the No. 1 seed and New York has been eliminated from post-season play – the Lizards will be fighting for the bragging rights of ending the Outlaws quest for an undefeated season.
New York and Denver face off at 5 p.m. EST at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead NY.