By Rachel Villari | 4/22/14 10:30 AM
We continue our team previews with the Denver Outlaws. Can they repeat the impressive undefeated 2013 regular season?
2013 Record: 14-0, lost to Charlotte Hounds in the first round of the playoffs
Key Losses: Brendan Mundorf (A)
Key Additions: John Grant, Jr. (A)
2013 in Review:
The regular season was nothing short of impressive for the Denver Outlaws, who flaunted an untouchable record of 14-0 entering the post-season and had a league-record five team members named to the 2013 All-MLL Team. The Outlaws were so dominant that the closest they came to being beaten pre-playoffs was a two-point victory over the Chesapeake Bayhawks, who would go on to win the Steinfeld Trophy against the Charlotte Hounds, 14-12. Despite their unstoppable momentum entering the playoffs, however, the Outlaws were eliminated in the first round by the Hounds, even with a record-breaking nine-goal performance from rookie Eric Law.
Having now been ousted from the first round of the playoffs for the third time in four years, the Outlaws will look to outlast the post-season this year, with hopes of contending for the Steinfeld Trophy.
Last season, the thoroughness of the entire Outlaws roster was made evident when a record five players were named to the All-MLL team at the season’s close. Attack was held up by Chris Bocklet and Brendan Mundorf, the midfield was led by Jeremy Sievert, and the backend was upheld by defenseman Lee Zink and goaltender Jesse Schwartzman who were named Warrior Defender and Goaltender of the Year respectively. Denver will be a force to be reckoned with as they see four out of those five players return this season.
Their ability to perform at every position was backed by numbers, too. Last year, the Outlaws led the league in goals scored, goals-against, power play goals and penalty kill percentage. Their 226 goals scored is only a single back-netter short of tying the all-time league record, and their low 136 goals-against is tied for the fifth-fewest of all time. With all-star rookie Eric Law now having a season under his belt, their offense can only grow with 50+ point producer Chris Bocklet, and his artillery of attackmen including Drew Snider, who accumulated 46 points, and Jeremy Sieverts, who collected 44.
Although the Outlaws’ offense will undoubtedly miss Brendan Mundorf, who was among those top tier scorers with 41 of his own points, they hope to complement the returning cannons with 2012 Cascade Rookie of the Year Matt Gibson. In 2012, Gibson scored 18 goals and 15 assists in 12 games, and in 2013, although he played in half as many matchups, he was still able to accrue 1.5 points per game, offensively contributing every time he was on the field.
Not only will they come out of the gate firing, but the Outlaws should also harbor an impenetrable defense with Lee Zink, and record-breaking Jesse Schwartzman in net, who set the new League record for goals-against average at 9.27, breaking his own record in the process.
The Outlaws always fare well in the regular season; however, the problem with making it to the post-season every year is having to contend in the playoffs every year, something Denver hasn’t been able to see through to the end since the team’s inception.
What the Experts Say:
Laxworm – Mike Sportini: Denver changed coaches and sent Mundorf to the Bayhawks in exchange for John Grant Jr., how does this change things? Not very much in my eyes these guys will still be there at the end of the season, another 14-0 season? I don’t think so but they certainly will be in the playoffs as they did not make any real changes to the 14-0 team of last year. The likes of Chris Bocklet who many thought should have been last year’s MLL offensive player of the year, Jeremy Sieverts, Drew Snider, Eric Law and additions of Matt Gibson the 2012 Rookie of the year should be a potent offense as they were last year. Lee Zink and his merry band of poles out in front of the 2013 best goalie Jesse Schwartzman should be one of the premier defensive squads in the league and very stingy!
LaxDirt.com – Tim Thomas: Every year I find myself scratching my head wondering what General Manager Tony Seaman is doing. Then every year Denver fields a playoff team that contends for a Steinfeld Trophy. This should be a team with a chip on their shoulder after last season so expect them to come out ready to play. Additions of Cam Flint and Matt Gibson among others make this team younger and more versatile. Denver will and should be one of the top three teams in the league this season.
Check back tomorrow as we preview the Charlotte Hounds