The Big Picture: The Hamilton Nationals will host the Long Island Lizards for the final game of the regular season on Saturday, August 11th at 7 p.m. ET. Last week the Lizards (8-5) had a disappointing loss to the Chesapeake Bayhawks 13-6 at home. The loss did not help them in their pursuit to clinching a playoff spot. The Nationals (3-10) were defeated by the Charlotte Hounds 11-9.
This is the second matchup between the Long Island and Hamilton Nationals. They faced each other just a few weeks ago on July 21st, the Nationals took the 19-12 loss to the Lizards in Long Island.
Long Island Lizards: The Lizards are coming into this final game of the regular season on a four game winning streak. They still have not clinched a playoff spot but if they can pull off the win this week they will be in Boston for Championship Weekend. They are in a tight race for the remaining two spots in the playoff race with the Boston Cannons and Rochester Rattlers. The team knows how important this game is to them and should come out flying against the Nationals. If Greg Gurenlian can be dominate at the face-off spot that will help their chances. Greg has won 60.8% of his face-offs this season which gives him the fourth best face-off winning percentage in a single season. As he dominates the X, Greg has been able to rack up 116 ground balls which puts him second for ground balls in a single season. If the team can rally around his great work, then they will have a great shot at making the playoffs.
Players to Watch: Tommy Palasek has 21 goals on the season and is tied for eighth among total goals by a Rookie. He will need nine to tie for first place but if he can score two this week, it will bump him up to sixth in a single season. Also Matt Gibson is in a four way tie for assists by a rookie with 14. Gibson has had a great rookie season with 30 points in just 11 games. The Lizards also have a solid goaltender in net with Drew Adams. He is second in minute played and saves this season. He has been part of the Long Island backbone this season.
Hamilton Nationals: The Hamilton Nationals loss to the Charlotte Hounds dropped them to 7th place in the league. They were eliminated in Week 11 after a 19-12 loss to the Long Island Lizards. This has been a tough season for the veteran team and all they can do now is work on getting better for next season. On the bright side, the team has been pretty dominant at the face-off spot. They are ranked third in the league with a 54.8% winning percentage and have won 221 face-offs this season. Hopefully they can play well for the final game of their season in front of the home town crowd.
Players to Watch: Joe Walters has the fourth amount of points in the league for the Nationals with 42. This includes 16 goals, one 2-pointer, and 25 assists. He went off last week against the Hounds with five assists. He has been the scoring threat for the Nationals. Look out for Stephen Keogh this week; he went off against the Hounds with a hat trick in their last game. That was his fifth hat trick of the season. Finally, Brodie Merrill has been a solid long pole for the Nationals. With his 92 ground balls this season, he is only three away from breaking the top 10 in ground balls in a single season.
MLL will host its 2012 Championship Weekend presented by Warrior on August 25 and 26 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass. It will be a battle of the top four teams and will include two semi-final games on Saturday followed by the championship game on Sunday. Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster.com. To learn more about the 2012 MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior click here. The games will be televised live on ESPN2.