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Breaking down Bayhawks at Nationals

By Lena Welch & Hannah McCaffrey |  6/28/13 11:00 AM

Breaking down Bayhawks at Nationals


As we enter Week Nine of the MLL season we take a look at arguably one of the best and most evenly matched games of the week. The Bayhawks and Nationals conclude their season series in Hamilton on Saturday as Chesapeake looks to get back to a winning record and Hamilton continues to make a push for a playoff spot. Last time these teams met, Jordan Hall earned the victory for the Nationals 44 seconds into overtime.

Below is a breakdown and comparison of the two teams, looking at their stats and records to determine who may come out on top this week.

Offense:

Chesapeake

  • Drew Westervelt and Kyle Dixon lead the Bayhawks with 24 points each, tying them at eighth in the League.
  • Ben Rubeor and Westervelt both have 18 goals on the season, ranking them at sixth in the League.
  • Dixon tops the league with four two-point goals, tied with Rochester’s Matt Striebel.  Chesapeake leads the league with ten two-point goals, in comparison with Hamilton’s four two-pointers.
  • Dixon is first in the League with 15 assists, tied with Hamilton’s Kevin Cunningham.
  • The Bayhawks just suffered their third tough OT loss this season, meaning that three out of their four losses were only by a one point difference.
  • Averaging 13.8 goals per game, the Bayhawks currently hold third place in the League with their 4-4 record.

Hamilton

  • Kevin Crowley has been among the top scorers in the League all season. He is first in the League for points with 35 and is tied for first in the League for goals with 26.
  • Hamilton has scored 103 goals this season, third most by any team.
  • Cunningham has made an immediate impact in his first season and is tied for first in the League for assists with 15.
  • The Nationals have two of the top five scoring midfielders with Crowley and Joe Walters, who has racked up 25 points and is tied for third in the League for assists with 13.
  • Hamilton has other players who have the ability to have big games, including Week Four Warrior Offensive Player of the Week Stephen Keogh and Martin Cahill, who recorded five points in last week’s game against Rochester.

Advantage: Hamilton

While the Bayhawks’ offense is filled with talented veterans, Hamilton’s scorers have been hard to handle this season. The Nationals can score from the attack, with players like Cunningham and Keogh, or from the midfield, with Crowley and Walters, making them twice as dangerous. This is sure to be a close game, so Hamilton’s ability to score when it matters will be a huge factor.

Defense:

Chesapeake

  • Through eight games, Chesapeake is allowing 10.12 goals per game.
  • The Bayhawks are second in the league in man-down situations, they are currently killing 76 percent of their penalties.
  •  Despite dropping two straight games, the Chesapeake defense has been able to slow down some of the most potent offensive units in MLL this summer.
  • The tandem of Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco continue to provide support for Kip Turner up front.
  • The Bayhawks currently rank fourth in the league in faceoff percentage (.467)
  • Chesapeake allowed just 12 goals to Hamilton’s high-powered scoring attack in their first meeting of the whole season.

 

Hamilton

  • Hamilton has given up 95 goals, the third fewest goals allowed by a team this season.
  • Hamilton has converted on 50 percent of power-play opportunities, with Crowley and Cahill tied for fifth in the League for man-up goals with three each.
  • Hamilton has won three one-goal games, including two in overtime. The Nationals’ defense can step up in high-pressure situations to get the win.
  • Veteran defenseman Brodie Merrill has recorded 48 ground balls, fourth most in the League.
  • Rookie Mike Poppleton has played three games thus far for the Nationals and will be stepping up as the main faceoff man. In his most recent game he won more than 50 percent of the faceoffs.
  • Rookie Tucker Durkin is the reigning Defensive Player of the Week for helping to keep Rochester to just 11 goals.

Advantage: Chesapeake

The Bayhawks defense is arguably the most feared defense in the entire league.  Veterans Polanco and Spallina make it a hard task for opponents to go to goal.  Furthermore, Barney Ehrmann and Michael Evans were selected as MLL All-Stars for their defensive prowess.  Chesapeake also was able to hold the undefeated Denver Outlaws to their lowest scoring game of the season.

Goaltending:

Chesapeake

  • Coach Cottle described first-time All-Star Turner as a Bayhawks MVP in last week’s Coaches Call.
  • Turner boasts the second lowest goals against average at 9.78 as well as the second highest number of saves at 107.
  • With the second highest save percentage at .611, Turner is only .001 behind Hamilton’s Brett Queener.

 

Hamilton

  • Hamilton has not been afraid to give other goalies a chance, but Coach Huntley has said that Queener is back to 100 percent.
  • Queener has returned to first in the League for save percentage with .612 after a 22-save game against Rochester.
  • Queener has the third-lowest goals against average with11.26.
  • Queener has allowed 54 goals, which are the second fewest for goalies with at least 200 minutes.

Advantage: Push

Queener and Turner are two of the best goalies in the MLL.  With almost identical save percentages, if both goalies are on their game there is no telling who will come out with the win.  Turner is having a standout season and was just selected for his first all-star appearance, which could give him the momentum to propel the Bayhawks into post-season contention.  However, Queener’s veteran experience and quick reflexes could give the Nationals the upper hand.

In closing:

Chesapeake is sitting at .500 and will need to fight their way into the playoffs after dropping four out of their last five games. Hamilton is only two games back from the lead, but their season does not get any easier from here on out. Chesapeake is the reigning MLL Champion; expectations are high for the Bayhawks. Chesapeake will need a victory to swing momentum in the second half of the season by returning to a winning record; a Hamilton victory will help to secure a probable spot in Championship Weekend. At the end of the day, the team with the most one-goal victories will be facing the team with the most one-goal losses. Either team can win.



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