MLL Weekend Preview: Week 15
Denver Outlaws (9-4) at Chesapeake Bayhawks (6-7)
Thursday, 7:30 PM on LSN
Storylines: The Outlaws and Bayhawks will meet for the second straight Thursday and if the game is half as entertaining as last Thursday, it'll be a great game. Last week, these clubs traded blows both figuratively on the scoreboard and literally on the field with a scuffle errupting in the fourth quarter. Eric Law's goal in overtime was the decisive blow and clinched a postseason berth for the Outlaws. After the rest of the results from the weekend came in on Saturday, the Bayhawks were officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Players to watch: Rookie Romar Dennis had the best game of his young career last week, picking up a hat trick. He has multiple points in four of his six games with the Outlaws. His goalie, Jack Kelly, is the reigning Warrior Defensive Player of the Week after making a career-high 24 saves in that game. For Chesapeake, Josh Byrne tallied four goals last week and is now two goals shy of Kieran McArdle's record for most goals ever by a rookie (34 goals).
Atlanta Blaze (5-8) at Boston Cannons (3-10)
Saturday, 6:00 PM on LSN
Storylines: This game is for bragging rights only, as these teams sit in the last two spots in the standings. They played a hottly contested game back in Week 2 that saw Atlanta score five straight goals in the second half to pull away for a 13-10 win in Kennesaw. Despite being out of the playoff picture, the Cannons rallied from a 10-goal deficit against the Launch last week and actually took the lead in the second half. Despite the 11-goal run, the Cannons fell in overtime.
Players to watch: Boston's youth movement is fully underway with attackmen Cal Dearth (3 goals) and Luke Goldstock (2 goals, 5 assists) emerging over the last few games. Kyle Jackson is becoming one of the team's most reliable scorers with 11 points in his last three games combined. For the Blaze, Kevin Rice has a chance to crack the top 10 points list with 39 points on the year, which is tied for 14th currently. He was held without a goal for the first time this season last week against Rochester.
Ohio Machine (9-4) at Rochester Rattlers (7-6)
Saturday, 7:00 PM on Twitter
Storylines: The Twitter Game of the Week will decide who gets the final spot in the postseason. The Rattlers control their own destiny, as a win on Saturday guarantees them a playoff spot. If Rochester loses, the winner of the New York vs. Charlotte game will take the fourth seed. That game will be happening simultaneously. The Rattlers got the better of Ohio last time these teams met in a 12-11 overtime win on May 6.
Players to watch: Goalie John Galloway has been the backbone of a stingy Rattlers defense all season, posting the second-best goals against average among starters at 11.45. He made 17 saves his last time out against the Blaze. He'll have to slow down Peter Baum, whose seven-point outburst against New York last week propelled him atop the points leaderboard entering the final week of the season (49 points). His teammate, Marcus Holman, is just three points shy of him and is tied for second in the league.
Charlotte Hounds (6-7) at New York Lizards (6-7)
Saturday, 7:00 PM on LSN
Storylines: This is a must-win game for both teams, as the victor will be the fourth seed in the playoffs with a Rochester loss to Ohio. Both New York and Charlotte own the tie-breaker over the Rattlers. These teams met on July 15 in Charlotte, when the Lizards rode an eight-goal first half to a 14-11 win. They've been in must-win mode since that point and are coming off a 21-14 loss to the Machine last week. Charlotte is coming off a 16-12 win over the Cannons last Thursday.
Players to watch: If the Lizards are kept out of the postseason, this will be Greg Gurenlian's last game in MLL after announcing his impending retirement this offseason. Gurenlian will walk away from the league as the all-time leader in faceoff wins and groundballs. He set the single-season records for faceoff wins (280) and faceoff winning percentage (.732) in 2015. On the Charlotte side, midfielder Kevin Crowley is coming off a five-point performance (3 goals, 2 assists) against Boston, matching his most points in a game this year.