By Rachel Villari | 4/25/14 12:30 PM
Denver Outlaws at Florida Launch
Saturday, April 26 – 7:00 p.m. (EST) – Florida Atlantic University
The Denver Outlaws visit the newly formed Florida Launch in Boca Raton, Fl. for the second game of the season Saturday evening of the 2014 Faceoff Weekend.
Last Time Out:
Denver: Although the Outlaws enjoyed an undefeated regular season, taking all 14 games played, they fell 14-12 in the first round of the playoffs to the Charlotte Hounds 17-14, who went on to compete (and fall) for the championship title. After Denver scored their final game’s opening goal, the Hounds went on a scoring spree, leading 11-2. The Outlaws were unable to recover such a deficit.
Florida: This Saturday evening’s game is the first of the Florida Launch in League history; it is the team’s inaugural season.
A Season of Firsts: The Florida Launch will play their first game in club history this weekend at their first home opener. This season will host an abundance of new experiences for the inaugural team, which is inheriting half of its roster from the disbanded Hamilton Nationals, picking up players via drafts and dips into the player pool, and trades. The new team will be sure to kick off its first season with a bang!
Battle of the Coaches: With a new team comes room for new coaching and management, and the first game of the season will pit new and old coaching staff against one another. Stan Ross, once an assistant coach for the Denver Outlaws under Head Coach Jim Stagnitta, now leads the Florida Launch in their inaugural season, this time with Stagnitta as his right hand man. BJ O’Hara has since inherited head coaching responsibilities in Denver and looks to faceoff against his old assistant coaching partner Ross in this weekend’s season opener.
Missing Forward Puzzle Pieces: Last season, the Outlaws led the league in goals scored, goals-against, power play goals, and penalty kill percentage. Their 226 goals scored was only a single back-netter short of tying the all-time league record, and their low 136 goals-against is tied for the fifth lowest of all time. Will they be able to keep up their offensive attack this season without six season MLL veteran Brendan Mundorf, who has a 44 point average, now playing for the Bayhawks? The same goes for Florida, who also said goodbye to Joe Walters as he packed his bags for Chesapeake.
Players to Watch:
Denver: Last year a record number of players from the Outlaws were named to the All-MLL Team at the season’s close; four of those five players return this season. Attackman Chris Bocklet will lead the offensive charge yet again, last season collecting 50+ points. Midfield was dominated by Jeremy Sieverts, who also notched 44 of his own points, and defense was upheld by MLL Defenseman of the Year Lee Zink, who has now received the award in two consecutive seasons, and record-breaking Jesse Schwartzman in net, who set the new League record for goals-against average at 9.27, breaking the old record he set the season before in the process. These four stars are sure to be complemented soon by the acquisition of legendary John Grant, Jr., too.
Florida: The inaugural team will inherit a great number of players from the Hamilton Nationals, the most recognizable of which should be Kevin Crowley, Kevin Cunningham and goaltender Brett Queener. However, new additions such as Casey Powell, arguably one of the wisest players in professional lacrosse with almost ten years under his belt, will provide some veteran support and some promising numbers, with over 100 goals over his career.
Denver: As mentioned previously, attackman Bocklet contributed over a fourth of the Outlaws’ total goals of the season, netting over 50 shots. Also be on the lookout for All-Star sophomore Eric Law, who collected an impressive 34 points, and scored nine goals in nine shots (spanning three games) in his rookie season. In the back of the field Schwartzman, who set the new League record for goals-against average at 9.27, should be in net.
Florida: Crowley has spent three years in the League, and every year his offensive output increases exponentially. He accrued 20 points in the first season, 37 in his second, and 55 last year with the Hamilton Nationals.
2013 Season Series:
Saturday evening, the Denver Outlaws and the Florida Launch meet for the first time in both clubs’ histories.
This is the first game for the Florida Launch but the third game at FAU stadium. The first game was the MLL All-Star Game in 2012, and the second was a regular season tilt between the Rochester Rattlers and the Hamilton Nationals in 2013.
The Denver Outlaws have won their last 20 regular season games.