July 30, 2012

Boyle, Cannons Keep Playoff Hopes Alive in Tight MLL Race

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com

The Boston Cannons improved to 7-5 to stay alive in an MLL playoff race that has four teams battling for three spots with two weeks left in the regular season.
© Bill Danielewski

With Boston on a two-game losing streak and falling into a tie for the fourth and final playoff position with Rochester ahead of last weekend's games, the Cannons needed a big win against the league-leading Chesapeake Bayhawks to maintain a good position in the post-season hunt.

The Cannons (7-5) used two goals and six assists from attackman Ryan Boyle in order to defeat the Bayhawks, 16-13 in a crucial match for the Cannons playoff hopes. Chesapeake, the only MLL team to have clinched a playoff berth, falls to 9-3.

"We're not going to win when Ryan Boyle is two and six. [Paul] Rabil was a handful today and we had to slide to him. When we did that, Rabil moved the ball to Boyle who then found the open man," Bayhawks coach David Cottle said after the game.

Rabil had a strong game with two goals—including his first two-pointer since June 23 – and two assists, and Ari Sussman and Kevin Buchanan, each with the help of Boyle assists, scored three goals apiece.

"When the [Boston Cannons] play team oriented offense they are tough to beat, Ryan Boyle runs the ship and let Rabil make plays," CBS Sports Network analyst and Inside the MLL host Evan Washburn tweeted.

The first time these two teams met this year, the Bayhawks, backed by a strong performance from goalie and former Cannon Kip Turner, sealed a one-goal victory for the Bayhawks.

The Bayhawks held a 9-7 lead with 1:37 remaining in the first half, but Boyle's first goal of the game with 42 seconds left in the half gave Boston the momentum it needed. It sparked a five-goal run for the Cannons that put them up, 12-9.

Turner made 16 saves, but Cannons goalie Jordan Burke made six of his 13 saves in the second half while allowing only four goals in the final two quarters.

John Grant, Jr. led the Bayhawks with four goals and two assists.

Outlaws move into tie for first

The Denver Outlaws (9-3) scored 21 goals for the second time in three games and third time this season to beat the Hamilton Nationals, 21-12. With the Outlaws win and Bayhawks loss, Denver moves into a tie for first place in the MLL standings, although it still has not clinched a playoff berth. Hamilton is 3-9.

Jordan McBride, tied for second in the league in goals, scored a season-high six against the Nationals and added two assists for a game-high eight points. McBride was named player of the game.

"It's not always about the names on the back of the jerseys. We play as a unit and understand what it takes to be successful," Denver head coach Jim Stagnitta said on the weekly MLL coaches' conference call.

Denver used some big runs to build their leads, specifically stealing momentum at the end of quarters. The Outlaws scored the last goal of the quarter in three of the four quarters, ending the first on a 6-0 run, the second on a 5-0 run and the fourth on a 2-0 run.

Brendan Mundorf scored twice with three assists while Mark Matthews added three goals and two assists for Denver. Hamilton's Kevin Crowley contributed four goals and three assists in a losing effort.

Lizards come from behind, keep pace

Down 7-6 heading into halftime, the Long Island Lizards (8-4) once again turned on the jets after the break and won their final home game of the season, defeating the Charlotte Hounds, 13-9.

After giving up the first goal of the second half 43 seconds into the third quarter, the Long Island defense held the Hounds (3-9) without a goal for the next 20 minutes and 33 seconds. In the time frame, the Lizards scored five goals, including two each from Brian Langtry and Max Seibald, to take an 11-8 lead.

For his efforts in leading the team back from behind, Langtry—who scored three goals total—was named player of the game. Rookie Matt Gibson led all players with four points and Greg Gurenlian won 17 of 26 faceoffs.

Billy Bitter was the only Hound to have multiple goals or assists, scoring twice.

For the third week in a row the Hounds have lost on the road and failed to reach double-digits in goals. It was also the second consecutive week the Hounds scored only two goals in the entire second half.

Player of the Week

Ryan Boyle, A, Boston Cannons

Boyle's two goals and six assists earned him player of the game honors as Boston triumphed over the league-leading Bayhawks. Boyle assisted for three different scorers. He had three shots on goal and just did a great job of finding the open man, utilizing all of Boston's offensive firepower.

Surprise of the Week

Bobby Dattilo, FO, Rochester Rattlers

In only his second game of his MLL career, Dattilo went 10 of 13 from the face-off X and combined with Tim Fallon to help Rochester, seventh in the league in faceoff winning percentage (44.9 percent), go 19 of 27 on faceoffs and beat Ohio, 14-13. Dattilo is 14 of 20 in two games this season and on Saturday he picked up his first career assist and also picked up four ground balls.

What to Watch For

The Denver Outlaws will travel to Rochester on Saturday to square off against the Rattlers in a game with large playoff implications.

With only two games remaining in the season, Denver can clinch a playoff berth with a win. A win would also ensure they at least maintain a share of the league lead.

Rochester is in a much more stressful position, tied with the defending champion Boston Cannons at 7-5 for fourth place right now. A win would at the very least allow Rochester to keep pace with Boston, or have a one-game lead should the Cannons lose at home to the Ohio Machine.

Both teams are hot, winning five of their past six games. In their first matchup of the season the Outlaws defeated the Rattlers 16-12.

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