By Natalie Johnson | 6/19/14 2:30 PM
Rochester Rattlers at Florida Launch
Friday, June 20 — 7:30 PM ET — FAU Stadium
Watch: CBS Sports Network
As two of only three teams with a winning record this season, Florida and Rochester currently share second place in league standings. That will change on Friday night, as one team will be forced back to .500 on the year, while the other will take strides towards distancing themselves from the pack.
Last Time Out
Rochester: Despite a huge debut from rookie Jordan Wolf, the Rattlers fell to the Ohio Machine last week by a score of 18-13. Rochester took a 9-7 lead into halftime, but were outscored 11-4 in the final two quarters. Wolf led the team with four goals and one assist, while fellow first-year player Miles Thompson added three goals. The Rattlers improved their power play percentage by converting on 3 of 4 man up opportunities, and they also won the battle at the X, as MLL All-Star John Ortolani took 20 of 34 face offs.
Florida: The Launch also suffered their third loss of the season last week, dropping a close one to the Charlotte Hounds, 14-13. They were able to hold Charlotte to just one fourth-quarter goal, but they could not to produce enough offense to come back from a four-point deficit, falling just short in the final seconds. All-Star Kevin Crowley led all players with four goals, while Casey Powell recorded two goals and three assists. Chris Mattes had one of his best games of the season, winning 16 of 29 face offs.
All-Star Watch: The MLL All-Star Game is just one week away, and you’ll be able to see several of those All-Stars on display Friday night. Rochester’s Mike Manley, John Ortolani, Justin Turri, and Joel White were all selected for Team MLL, as were Florida’s Kevin Crowley and Brett Queener. In addition, there are several members of Team USA on these two squads: John Galloway, Dave Lawson, and Kevin Leveille are representing Rochester, and they’re joined by Florida’s Tucker Durkin and Garrett Thul.
First-Year Firepower: Both Florida and Rochester have gotten huge returns from their 2014 Collegiate Draft picks, so be sure to keep an eye on all the outstanding rookies who will make appearances in this game. While Kieran McArdle gets most of the attention when discussing Launch rookies— and rightfully so, as he has recorded 14 goals and four assists through five games— Chris LaPierre has also had an impact, with two goals and eight GBs in four games. Meanwhile, Jordan Wolf had a massive debut for Rochester last week, and Miles Thompson has also impressed in his first three games, totaling six points.
Resilient in the Net: This game features two of the toughest goalies in the league, John Galloway (ROC) and Brett Queener (FL). Galloway and Queener currently lead the league in total saves, with 102 and 100 respectively. Queener has allowed ten fewer goals than Galloway, but the Rochester netminder has a slight edge in goals against average, with an 11.46 GAA as compared to Queener’s 11.54. Both offenses will need to bring their ‘A’ game if they want to find the back of the net this week.
Players to Watch
Rochester: When Rochester and Florida met in Week 5, Rattlers defenseman Mike Manley had an outstanding game and was named Warrior Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in 2014. This season, Manley has also become a threat on offense, recording a career-high 8 points, which is tied for first among MLL defensemen. If Manley is able to repeat his Week 5 performance, it could wreak havoc on the Florida attack.
Florida: Kevin Cunningham is coming off his two best games of the season, recording three points against both New York and Charlotte. Although he has been overlooked at times in favor of players with flashier statistics, Cunningham’s consistently strong play is applauded by his teammates and coaches. Last week, coach Stan Ross said, “Kevin Cunningham is the unsung hero of the team right now – he does things that people don’t notice that help us in the long run of the game.”
Rochester: The Rattlers have an evenly spread offense, as three players are tied for the team lead with 10 goals: Dave Lawson, Kevin Leveille, and Jordan MacIntosh. Justin Turri is first on the team with 18 points and 8 assists. John Ortolani leads Rochester with 47 ground balls, and he has also taken all 194 of the team’s face offs this season, winning exactly 100 of those matchups.
Florida: Casey Powell leads the Launch in all major offensive categories, with 34 points, 15 goals, and 19 assists. Also with double-digit goals this season are Kieran McArdle (14), Garrett Thul (11), and Kevin Crowley (10). Chris Mattes has picked up 41 ground balls and won 86 of 182 face offs, while Tucker Durkin leads Florida defensemen with 13 ground balls.
2014 Season Series:
Florida traveled to Rochester in Week 5, a game that the Rattlers won by a score of 18-11. Kevin Leveille and Jordan MacIntosh each recorded five points for Rochester, and John Ortolani performed well at the X, winning 21 of 33 face offs. Florida’s dynamic duo, Casey Powell and Kieran McArdle, were held to just two points each, but Kevin Crowley and Jordan Hall each had four points.
The Rattlers are 4-3 this season, but all three of those losses have come away from Sahlen’s Stadium. They are the only team in the league to be undefeated at home and winless on the road.
Halfway through the season, the Launch have scored 80 goals, and they have also allowed 80 goals.
Florida and Rochester lead the league in MLL weekly award winners this season, with four winners each.
If you’re going to Boca Raton to cheer on the Launch, why not grab this awesome shirt from the MLL Shop before the game? It’s the perfect way to stay cool while supporting your favorite MLL team. The shirt is available in adult and youth sizes, and can be found here, or by clicking the image to the right.