By Samantha Blair | 8/8/14 10:10 AM
Denver Outlaws at New York Lizards
Saturday, August 9 – 5:30 PM ET – James M. Shuart Stadium
Last Time Out:
Denver (9-4) regained their top seed after defeating Chesapeake (4-9) last weekend, 18-16. John Grant Jr. broke the All-Time Scoring record with 280 goals.
New York (8-5) was victorious in a close back and forth battle against the Charlotte Hounds (4-9) last Friday. Fighting down to the final second, the Lizards were able to capture the 12-11 win.
Fighting for Home: Since both New York and Denver have already secured their spot in the playoffs, this weekend will be a fight for home field advantage. The top two teams in the league will play on their own turf in the semifinals. Even if Rochester is victorious over Boston, because of the +1 goal differential in the tiebreakers, Denver will still claim the top seed if they win. That means if New York wants any chance at those top two spots, they will need a huge victory over Denver in order to surpass the nitty-gritty tiebreakers (explained more thoroughly here).
Adding Up: John Grant Jr. has always been a strong force for the Outlaws, and lately his success is starting to add up. Last weekend, Grant claimed the All-Time Goals Scored record (280), beating Rochester’s Kevin Leveille’s tally by three points. As the season begins to wind down, you can expect Grant to be reaching for more milestones. He is currently in a race with Florida’s Casey Powell for the All-Time Points record. Powell is in the lead by five points (459), a gap Grant will be eager to close.
Playing the Odds: Last time New York faced Denver this season they lost 11-16, but the Outlaws didn’t achieve their win without a fight. Denver was at the top of the league, and came into the game with an enormous amount of confidence. However, they were lucky they scored so many goals in the first three quarters because the Lizards tripled the amount of goals Denver scored in the fourth, making quite the comeback. New York proved they can play with Denver and they are well known for their success at home, with only one loss this season. These two factors will be huge motivation for the team this week. Coming into the semifinals with home field advantage would put the odds in their favor for this year’s post-season battle.
Players to Watch:
Denver: Ken Clausen is a defender for the Outlaws who had not had any remarkable performances for Denver until last weekend against Chesapeake. Clausen made his largest contribution to the team this season with six ground balls. In the Outlaws’ upcoming game against New York, especially against a ground ball expert like Gurenlian, winning the fifty-fifty ball opportunities will be vital for both teams. If Clausen can keep up the good work, he could make all the difference in the world.
New York: Greg Gurenlian is known for his unbelievable performance at the X. He is currently first in the league for his faceoff abilities, boasting a .606 winning percentage. As if those statistics weren’t impressive enough, in his last game against Charlotte, Gurenlian exceeded his normal standard of excellence and won 15 of the 20 face offs. That is nearly 5% more wins than usual. Fans can expect Gurenlian to carry his momentum from last week, especially on his home turf.
Denver: John Grant Jr. and Eric Law lead Denver for overall points. Grant has the most assists (24) and the most overall points (51), while Law is in a three way tie for first in the league for the most goals (33). Anthony Kelly is first for the Outlaws for groundballs (63) and fourth in the league for faceoff wins (159-303). Jesse Schwartzman is ranked number one in the league with a .562 save percentage.
New York: Rob Pannell is tied for third with Grant and Boston’s Will Manny for overall points for the season (51). Greg Gurenlian leads the league in groundballs (91), and is currently first for faceoff wins (183-302)
2014 Season Series
Last year in their first encounter, the Outlaws crushed New York in Denver 16-7. Then when Denver traveled to New York towards the end of the season, they won again, this time by only three goals (13-10).
-John Grant Jr. is 13 points away from the All-Time Points record held by Casey Powell.
- The New York Lizards haven’t won a game against Denver in two years.
If you’re going to James M. Shuart Stadium to cheer on the Lizards, don’t forget to wear your sweet design tee from the MLL Shop! If you don’t have one, pick it up here, in both kids and adult sizes. They are the perfect way to show your team spirit!