By Sean Desmond | 7/26/13 11:00 AM
Boston Cannons at Hamilton Nationals Ohio Machine
Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m. – Ron Joyce Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario
TV Coverage: YouTube.com/MLL
The Boston Cannons will travel north of the border this weekend to take on the second place Hamilton Nationals in the YouTube game of the week. The Cannons, who are coming off of an overtime loss to the Chesapeake Bayhawks last week, are looking to rebound and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Despite a record setting season for the club, Hamilton has had trouble defending their home turf this season. The offense, which is led by MLL MVP candidate Kevin Crowley, is only outscoring opponents 65 to 62 at home. Crowley has 12 points in five games north of the border this season, a small number compared to the 31 that he has been able to produce on the road in the U.S.
Hamilton’s biggest offensive threat at this point in the season is midfielder Joe Walters. Over the course of the last five games, Walters has accounted for 22 points and is far-and-away the Nationals’ hottest shooter. While Hamilton’s offense has been strong in the shooting department in 2013 (.572 shooting percentage), they’ve struggled to find the back of the net in Canada shooting just over 30%. The strong play of Boston’s veteran goaltender Jordan Burke should prove a tough test for the Nats’ offense.
Burke, who was not at his best in the early parts of the season, has recovered nicely putting together a 17 save performance last week in a loss against the Bayhawks. The former Championship Weekend MVP has regained his footing in goal, and will be an important piece for Boston if they hope to return to the title game for the first time since 2011.
After an impressive four-game win streak the Cannons have cooled off at a pivotal point in their season. Paul Rabil is still continuing to carry much of the offensive load for Boston with a league leading 47 points, and after a tough loss last week at Chesapeake the offense will need to regroup and respond quickly to keep the Cannons’ playoff hopes alive. Rabil’s supporting cast of Mike Stone, Ryan Boyle and Matt Poskay will need to come up big in the homestretch of 2013.
While Boston has been good on the road in recent weeks, the Cannons have been outscored in away games 79-90. A scoring gap they will need to close in order to contend with a very talented Nationals squad.
On the other end of the field for Hamilton, question marks surrounding the goaltender position were answered in impressive fashion last weekend with a stellar performance by backup Dillon Ward in the absence of All-Star Brett Queener. Queener, who missed last week’s game due to an undisclosed illness, is expected to be starting this weekend. In his first appearance against the Cannons this season, Queener allowed seven goals and made 18 saves in win.
This game can be seen of Major League Lacrosse’s YouTube Channel, and begins at 7:00 PM EST.