The Big Picture: The Hamilton Nationals and Ohio Machine will play a home-and-home set on Friday and Saturday night. This will be the only two matchups of the season between the Nationals and the Machine. The Nationals are currently 2-6 while the Machine have struggled in their inaugural season with a record of 1-7.
This is the first time Hamilton has ever played the expansion Ohio Machine. This weekend’s doubleheader gives both teams the opportunity to climb in the standings and improve their playoff chances.
Hamilton Nationals: After a close loss to the Cannons last week, the Nationals must bounce back this weekend against Ohio if they hope to remain in playoff contention. Head Coach Regy Thorpe understands the sense of urgency his team must play with in the upcoming games.
The Nationals attack features a variety of scoring threats that prevent opposing defenses from keying in on any specific player. Joe Walters, Kevin Crowley and Stephen Keogh have taken care of the majority of the scoring burden for the Nationals. Last week, Walters (3 assists) and Keogh (1 goal, 2 assists) each chipped in with 3 point games.
Players to Watch: Midfielder Joe Walters has been the key playmaker for the Nationals. Through just five games, Walters has 25 points on 10 goals, including a 2-pointer and 14 assists. Kevin Crowley plays alongside Walters at the midfield line and offers another dodging threat. Crowley is second on the team in scoring with 21 points. Face-off specialist Matt Dolente has played a major role in securing the Nationals offensive opportunities. He has won 127 of 223 face-offs and is third in the league in face-off percentage (57%.) The Nationals use two goalies, Scott Rodgers and Brett Queener, whose varying styles present match-up issues to opposing attacks.
Ohio Machine: The Ohio Machine must turn around their season this weekend to maintain any hope of reaching Championship Weekend. The Machine can be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose both games this weekend and either Long Island or Rochester wins this week. Head Coach Ted Garber recently signed an extension with the Machine through 2013 but has not given up hope on the current season.
Steele Stanwick and Jim Connolly have teamed up to form a dangerous duo on the attack line. Last week Stanwick scored 1 goal and handed out 5 assists while Connolly finished with 5 goals of his own. These young, athletic stars may present problems for an aging Hamilton defense led by Brodie Merrill.
Players to Watch: Rookie attack Steele Stanwick of Virginia has provided a much needed spark to the Machine offense. Although he has played in just three games, Stanwick leads the team in assists with 10. He is joined on the attacking front by Jim Connolly and Chazz Woodson. They have 22 points apiece and are two of the top dodging attackmen in the league. Woodson is a dynamic playmaker and seems poised to score a highlight reel goal on each possession. Defensemen Kyle Hartzell has also created some excitement on the offensive end. He leads all defensemen in the league with 6 2-point goals and is second in 2-pointers among all players.