By Steve Rollins | 5/3/12 4:50 PM
NATIONALS at OUTLAWS
Watch & Follow
Syndicated TV: Altitude, COX NO (5/7 3pm); Web: ESPN3, Live Blog; Radio: MLL Radio
The Big Picture: This Saturday the Hamilton Nationals (who finished third in league standings in the 2011 regular season with a final record of 7-5) will travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo. to face-off against the Denver Outlaws. The Outlaws won both of last year’s regular season match-ups over the Nationals, including a high scoring 18-10 victory on opening day largely in part of Brendan Mundorf’s 10-point game. The Outlaws also outscored the Nationals 15-7 on week five with an 8 point game from Brendan Mundorf. In the post season, the Nationals defeated the Outlaws in last year’s semi-final playoff game 11-9 and advanced to the MLL championship game. They fell one goal shy to the Boston Cannons, 10-9.
Denver Outlaws: After a 21-12 win over Charlotte on opening day the Outlaws are coming into their home opener leading the league in goals. After last week’s victory Outlaws Coach Jim Stagnitta said, “I really do like the mix of young and veteran experience we have and that will pay dividends in our home opener.” He also added, “We will be a tough offense to defend," hinting that he expects his team to put up big offensive numbers this season.
Players to Watch: Keep eyes on midfielders Peet Poillon and Jeremy Sieverts, who both tallied 7 points each in the season opener. Sieverts was named the MLL Offensive Player of the Week after netting two 2-point goals, 1 assist and 4 goals last weekend. Also keep an eye on midfielder Terry Kimener and attackman Ryan Hoff who both tallied 3 goals each last weekend. Outlaws goalie Jesse Schwartzman who let in an unusually high 12 goals against Charlotte last weekend will look to get back into his groove this weekend against the Nationals.
Hamilton Nationals: The Nationals look to start their season strong this weekend in their season opener in Denver. Last season, the Nationals won six of their last eight games to advance to the 2011 playoffs. Joe Walters led the offense with 39 points (18+1+20) and finished fifth in the MLL in points and second among league midfielders. His 20 assists were a single-season franchise record. Walters ended the 2011 regular season as the Nationals’ all-time leader in assists (37) and points (81). He ranks second in goals with 41. Goalie Scott Rodgers was third in the MLL with an 11.46 goals-against average and set a single-season team record with 106 saves this season.
“Obviously we’re at a disadvantage because Denver already has a game under their belt and can make some adjustments but we’re just going to have to make adjustments on the fly,” said Nationals Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “We had a good camp this past weekend and we’re excited to see what the guys can do.”
Players to Watch:Dan Burns was the No. 1 overall 2012 SUPPLEMENTAL draft pick Attackman Jeff Zywicki and defenseman Nick O’Hara return to the Nationals for the first time since 2009, when they helped the then Toronto-based team win the MLL title. The duo also won the championship in 2008 with the Rochester Rattlers.
Next Matchup: The Nationals and Outlaws will meet again Saturday July, 28 7PM at Ron Joyce Stadium in Hamilton, ON.