MLL Week 14: Two-win weekend for Atlanta

Callum Robinson of the Atlanta Blaze. (Photo credit: Laura Kupsey)

Chesapeake 11 Atlanta 12

Chesapeake failed in their attempt to secure the second playoff spot as they lost a close game to Atlanta. Atlanta roared out to a 7-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Even with a one-goal output by the Blaze offense in the second quarter, they continued to lead 8-6 at halftime. The Bayhawks’ offense went dormant in the third quarter as the Blaze extended their lead 11-7. Chesapeake rallied in the fourth quarter, but failed to overcome the early lead Atlanta built.

Adam Ghitelman made 14 saves to secure the win while Niko Amato made an astounding 21 saves in the loss. Christian Cuccinello led Atlanta with five points (2 goals and 3 assists) as he won offensive player of the week honours. Matt Abbott (2 goals and an assist), Lyle Thompson (3 goals) and Josh Byrne (3 goals) led Chesapeake with three points each. Joe Nardella dominated faceoffs going 14-23 from the X.

Up Next: Atlanta defeated Florida later in the weekend and will host Denver in the last regular season game while Chesapeake defeated Denver to secure the second playoff spot and travels to New York for their last regular season game.

Denver 11 Chesapeake 13

Chesapeake rebounded from their close loss against Atlanta by taking an early 6-1 lead against Denver, much like Atlanta did to them earlier. The Bayhawks continued to hold onto the lead 8-3 at halftime. The third quarter saw the Bayhawks extend the lead to 11-4 as “the Josh’s” took over (Josh Byrne and Josh Maloney), as they outscored the Outlaws 3-1. Denver attempted a comeback as they scored seven goals in the fourth, but fell short.

Amato made 11 saves as he earned the win while Dillon Ward made 12 as he started for Jack Kelly who suffered a season ending injury in the FIL games. Colin Heacock (a goal and 2 assists), Ryan Tucker (2 goals and an assist) and Josh Byrne (2 goals and an assist) led Chesapeake. Romar Dennis (a goal and a two-point goal) and Zach Currier (a goal and two assists) led Denver with three points each. Stephen Kelly tilted the faceoff advantage to the Bayhawks by going 15-25.

Up Next: Chesapeake travels to New York in a crucial battle, as three teams are tied at 7-6 and fighting for two spots while Denver travels to Atlanta in a game that may determine the last playoff slot.

New York 13 Dallas 12

New York traveled to Denver in a game reminiscent of the championship game the two played in 2015. Dallas forged a slim 6-5 lead at the end of the first quarter then increased their lead by two, as the score was 8-6 at halftime. New York clawed back in the third and trimmed the lead to one goal at 11-10. New York outscored Dallas 3-1 in the fourth to secure the win and place themselves in a three-way tie for the last two spots in the semifinals.

Drew Adams made 12 saves on his way to securing the win as John Galloway made an uncharacteristic seven saves. Rob Pannell led New York with five points (3 goals and 2 assists). Ty Thompson led Dallas with four points (four goals). Drew Simoneau again had the advantage at the X for Dallas as he went 15-28.

Up Next: New York battles Chesapeake as the Bayhawks have already clinched the second playoff spot while Dallas hosts Florida.

Charlotte 7 Boston 14

Boston found its way back into the win column for only the fourth time this season and played spoiler, potentially ending Charlotte’s dream season. Charlotte took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first quarter but Boston exploded for six goals in the second quarter to take 6-1 lead at halftime. Boston continued rolling in the third as the increased their lead 12-3 at the end of the third. Charlotte proved unable to overcome the lead that Boston built as the Cannons celebrated a win and left Ohio in sole possession of last place.

Nicholas Marrocco made 19 saves as he got the win and won defensive player of the week honours.  Charlie Cipriano made 10 saves and took the loss. Shack Stanwick (a goal and three assists), James Pannell (three goals and an assist) and Kyle Jackson (three goals and an assist) led Boston with four points each. John Crawley led low-scoring Charlotte with three points (two goals and an assist). Trevor Baptiste went 17-24 from the X to give Boston the faceoff advantage.

Up Next: Boston hosts Ohio to see who receives the first pick in next year’s collegiate draft while Charlotte’s season is over and they are likely out of the playoffs.

Florida 13 Ohio 12

Florida got all it could handle from Ohio as the Machine welcomed back players who participated in the FIL championships, including Team USA hero Tom Screiber. Ohio took an early 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Florida responded in the second quarter with seven goals and taking the lead 9-6 at halftime. Ohio cut into Florida’s lead in the third quarter to trail 11-10 going into the fourth quarter. After a hotly contested and low-scoring final period, the Launch came out on top.

Austin Kaut made 23 saves and got the win while Kyle Bernlohr made 12. Ryan Drenner (3 goals and 2 assists) and Dylan Molloy (3 goals and 2 assists) led Florida in scoring. Bryce Wasserman (3 goals and an assist) led Ohio with four points. Greg Puskuldjian had one of his better performances this season as he battled Ben Williams and went 16-29 at the X.

Up Next: Florida failed to make it a two-win weekend as they lost to Atlanta. They next travel to face a Dallas team that has already secured home field advantage for the semifinals while Ohio battles Boston.

Atlanta 16 Florida 13

Any hope Florida had of making the playoffs for a second year in a row went up in flames as the Blaze defeated the Launch 16-13. For their second game of the week, Atlanta jumped out early much as they did against Chesapeake going up 7-2 at the end of the first quarter. Florida rallied in the second quarter and outscored Atlanta 6-3 to cut the Blaze’s lead to 10-8 at halftime. After a tightly contested third quarter, Atlanta held off Florida’s run and retained the lead 14-12. Atlanta outscored Florida 2-1 for the win and kept their playoff hopes alive as they joined New York and Denver in a tie for third place.

Adam Ghitelman made 12 saves as he earned the win for Atlanta while Austin Kaut stood on his head and made 20. Connor Kelly (a goal and 3 assists), Daniel Eipp (4 goals) and Christian Cuccinello (3 goals and an assist) led Atlanta with four points each. Kelly earned offensive player of the week honours for his performance. Dylan Molloy (a goal and 3 assists), Kieran McArdle (3 goals and an assist) and Conner Buczek (3 goals and an assist) led Florida in scoring with four points each. Joe Nardella continually bested the five different players Florida sent out to face him as he went 26-32 from the X.

Up Next: Atlanta rides their successful weekend as they host a Denver team in a crucial battle with a playoff berth hanging in the balance while Florida travels to The Star and goes up against a Dallas squad looking to rest up for their first round playoff game.

MLL action winds down as three teams battle for the two last spots to face Dallas and Chesapeake at their respective home fields. Denver looks to recapture the magic from their last championship with their starting goalie out for the season while Atlanta rides a wave of momentum that may well carry them to the playoffs. New York renews its rivalry with Chesapeake as their talent-laden roster looks to add to their legacy and kick down the door to another championship. When the dust is settled, look for Dallas and their veterans to settle the unfinished business from last season and win a championship of their own.