By Rachel Villari | 5/3/14 10:00 PM
After an upsetting home opener against the Ohio Machine last weekend, the Charlotte Hounds (0-2) traveled to Boca Raton in high hopes of capturing their first win of the season against the inaugural Florida Launch (1-1). The new team, however, would prove to be tougher than the experienced team predicted, winning their first ever game 11-8.
The Hounds got off to a slow start, missing a few key players like goaltender Adam Ghitelman and defenseman Mason Poli to coaching commitments, but starting net-minder Pierce Bassett was able to keep them in the game against the Launch’s rushing offense.
Part of Florida’s slow start to their last game was that they were facing the multi-regular-season undefeated Denver Outlaws in their first game as a team in club history. This game was different, though. Although the Launch were up against a likewise experienced team, they played well composed and confidently, feeding off of their almost-comeback game last weekend and fully taking advantage of the Hounds’ slow start and bruised egos.
The game remained scoreless for ten minutes until attackmen Grant Kaleikau netted his first of the season off of a feed from Josh Amidon. Less than two minutes later Mario Ventiquattro netted his first, and then the Hounds jumped back.
Matt Danowski scored his first of the season unassisted on a shot through Launch goaltender Brett Queener’s legs, cutting the lead in half and exciting the rest of the Hounds’ offense. Although they were unable to score again in the first after Garrett Thul ended the period with another goal for the Launch, Danowski, Matt White and Dean Gibbons netted one each in the second in response to Kevin Crowley’s power play goal, the only tally for Florida that period.
Coming out of halftime tied at 4-4, both teams battled back looking for the win, Florida only ever leading by a slim margin of two. The Launch started the period strongly, Amidon netting his first of the game 30 seconds in, followed by Casey Powell and Kaleikau. Charlotte responded with goals from Mike Sawyer, Joe Cummings and Jake Tripucka, ending the third tied 6-6.
Thul has begun his sophomore campaign in the League with great force, netting a hat trick for Florida to help push them into the lead with two consecutive goals in the final period. Powell helped with another goal of his own, widening their lead by three points. Danowski, who was unable to play in Charlotte’s first game, made his debut one to remember also earning a hat trick, closing the Launch’s lead again by two.
With two minutes left in the game, Roman Lao-Gosney scored his first, finalizing the score 11-8. With balanced scoring, a strong, aggressive defensive backbone in Queener, and a hat trick from Garrett Thul, the Launch were able to secure their first win in club history.
The Florida Launch host their third game of the season at home as the Ohio Machine come to Boca Raton for a matchup next Saturday, May 10 at 7:00 ET, viewable on ESPN3.com. The Hounds host the Chesapeake Bayhawks next Saturday as well, at 3:30 ET, which can be seen on CBS Sports Network and ESPN3.com.