The Rhode Island Kingfish will be playing their first game in the NALL tomorrow when they face the 0-1 Kentucky Stickhorses in Louisville. Last week the Stickhorses suffered a 10-9 loss at the hands of the Boston Rockhoppers.
This is their second straight home game and a chance for the team to find some chemistry together. Kentucky will not add Chazz Woodson until February.
Rhode Island is playing their first game ever, so these teams have not yet faced each other. It is the first of just six games for the ‘Fish this season with them having no home arena.
Watch for Josh Kacprzak on the Kentucky defense. He played a great game last week on the defensive end of the ball. The entire defensive unit is strong, so that should be something for the Kingfish to key in on.
For Rhode Island, former Boston Blazer Matt Smalley is someone to watch. He is probably the most experienced box player on their roster. In net will be Joe Evans of the Vermont Voyageurs.
Kentucky needs to take smart shots in this game. Their offense can be the strongest in the league if applied right. They need their best offensive players to shoot the ball, like Travis Bland and Mike McClellan.
The Kingfish need to take good shots on Spencer Lyons. The defense is led by Kacprzak but also Anthony Kelly who led the team in minutes last week and got worn out at the end. If they can take a lot of shots and tire them out, Rhode Island has a chance.
Kentucky has only lost to one team ever and that is the Boston Rockhoppers. This is their first time playing another official NALL team, last season playing three different clubs not in the league.
Rhode Island has several players who played in the summer CanAm league with the Rochester Greywolves but they also have some MLL talent in Smalley, Steven Boyle and Craig Bunker. Bunker will be facing off with Anthony Kelly.
The most important key to this game, and it can’t be stressed enough, is the Kentucky offense. Like we said above, Bland and McClellan need to score and run that offense. Players like Brandon Dube and Jake Davis also need to get involved as key offensive pieces, not transition players or defenders.
Last week Kentucky struggled against a Boston team without some of their top players. They are probably a better team than Rhode Island, but they need to focus and play smart box lacrosse to win this game.