By Max Jacobson | 5/30/12 2:54 PM
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The Big Picture: The Rochester Rattlers will host the Boston Cannons on Friday at 7 p.m. (ET) in the Rattlers’ home opener of the season. The Cannons are 4-0 after defeating the Outlaws 17-10 in their last contest. The Rattlers return home after a hard fought 16-10 loss to the Machine, the expansion team's first win in its young history. Rochester looks for revenge after an opening week 15-3 loss to the Cannons in Boston, especially with a full roster including attackman Ned Crotty. Both teams have added new faces since opening weekend which should make for a tight match-up.
The Cannons swept the 2011 season series against the Rattlers, winning by scores of 16-14 and 16-15.
Boston Cannons: Although the Cannons have already easily defeated the Rattlers this season (15-3), head coach Steve Duffy understands that this is a new game and each team has plenty of new faces. “We know it’s a different team than the one we faced in Week 1. Ned Crotty is a fantastic player that we must neutralize as best we can.”
Reigning MLL Bud Light MVP Paul Rabil leads the way on the offensive end for the Cannons, whose scoring has been quite balanced through the first four games. Last week, Rabil scored 3 goals and added 4 assists and Mike Stone and Kevin Buchanan each added hat tricks of their own. “We have a lot of guys that can run the field and score goals,” says Coach Duffy. "We’re really happy with the number of guys that are able to contribute on the score sheet.”
Face-off specialist Chris Eck has played a huge role in securing offensive opportunities for the Cannons. Last week Eck won 18 of 30 face-offs and is currently the league leader in face-offs won. Coach Duffy added, “I’ve liked some of the fundamental things we’ve have been able to do, like pick up ground balls.”
Goalie Jordan Burke hopes to continue his solid play coming off of the bye week. He has used his momentum from his 2011 Bud Light MLL Championship MVP to remain a strong force in the cage this season. Burke currently leads the league in saves (54) and has a save percentage of .614 which has positioned him as one of the top MLL goalies. He hopes to continue his success against the Rattlers after holding them to just 3 goals in Week 1.
Players to Watch: Midfielder Paul Rabil leads the league in points with 24 points on 10 goals, including a 2-pointer, and 13 assists. Last week in Denver he was named the Bud Light Player of the Game. Ryan Boyle helps the offensive effort as well and is coming off of a 1 goal, 1 assist game against the Outlaws. Boyle is tied with Rabil for the league lead in assists with 13 through the first four games. Face-off man Chris Eck has won 71 of 117 face-offs which have provided the Cannons with plenty of offensive chances. On defense, keep an eye on PT Ricci, a shut-down defender who played a major role in containing star Brendan Mundorf in the Cannons victory over the Outlaws.
Rochester Rattlers: The Rattlers hope that returning home to Rochester will give them an opportunity to improve their play from their poor early season performance. After opening the season with three road games, the Rattlers finally make their home debut against the Cannons on Friday night. Coach Soudan expects the home crowd to be excited about his team’s opportunity to take down the undefeated defending champions.
Star attack Ned Crotty has been extremely effective since returning to the Rattlers. He is the co-leader in scoring for the Rattlers with 3 goals despite missing the opening game. Crotty demands attention from opposing defenses which creates open opportunities for teammates Matt Striebel and Kevin Leveille to make scoring plays.
"Coming off what I would characterize a lack luster performance I am sure the guys will be licking there chops to redeem themselves," said head coach Tim Soudan. "Boston is the top in the league but we are a much different team from the first game! We will be excited to play, Joel White and Mike Manley should make a significant difference."
The Rattlers key strength thus far has been their goalkeeping. Coach Soudan has managed a goalie split between John Galloway and Mike Gabel quite well through the early going of the season but expects a clear defensive leader to emerge. “Galloway will be the guy this week,” says Soudan. “Hopefully he can make some plays.”
Players to Watch: Ned Crotty was last year’s MLL co-leader in points and has continued his strong play this year. Crotty scored 1 goal and dished out 2 assists in the Rattlers loss to the Machine. Veteran midfielder, Matt Striebel is a 4-time MLL All-Star and has proven to be a threat to score from deep. He has recorded a 2-point goal in each of the Rattlers’ last two games. Keep an eye on defensive star, Steve Danopoli who picked up 7 ground balls against the Machine. Danapoli is also effective in the offensive end on transition and is tied as the Rattlers leading scorer with 4 goals through the first 3 games. Rookie defenseman Will Koshansky has already made his presence felt after recording 1 assist in his debut against the Machine.
Next Match-Up: The Cannons next game will be at home against the Lizards on Saturday, June 9th at 7 p.m. ET. The Rochester Rattlers visit Charlotte for a match-up against the Hounds on Saturday, June 9th at 7 p.m. ET.