July 5, 2019
by Matt Rezin
As the regular season draws to a close and we consider the upcoming playoffs, there are exciting matchups to follow across the league. Hoping to repeat their first road win against the Radicals in franchise history, the Wind Chill need a win as they trail the Thunderbirds for the third playoff spot and head into their final game of the season in Madison. Also in the midwest, the Wildfire and AlleyCats match up in a battle for the top spot in the division and a preview of the likely Midwest Division championship game. Out west everyone is playing their final regular season games for the year as the playoff game between the Aviators and Growlers looms. With 2 playoff spots in the south, tonight's game between Raleigh and Dallas could determine home field advantage for the East Division's championship game. Last but not least, in the east the top spot is decided with the Empire hoping to remain undefeated. The Breeze are likely to host a playoff game but their opponent is still in question. If the Rush lose it leaves the door open for the Phoenix to win out and usurp the Rush for the third spot in the east. There's still a lot to play for!
Thursday, July 4
Ottawa Outlaws at Montreal Royal - 7:00 PM/ET
- Karl Loiseau (OTT) — Visiting Montreal Thursday night, Loiseau led the handling side of the Ottawa attack, notching 7 assists and tieing Nick Boucher (7 goals, 3 from Loiseau) with a plus/minus of 9 to lead their team. He's having the most efficient season of his 5 year AUDL career, throwing 96% completions while taking on more volume than he has had to before (26.4 comp/game v. prior career 17.6 c/g)
- Quentin Bonnaud (MTL) — In their 25-22 win over the visiting Outlaws, Bonnaud was his effortful self on Thursday night. Spreading the field for the rest of his team, Bonnaud ranged for 7 goals, an assist and 3 blocks to finish with a team leading (per usual) plus/minus of 11 for the Royal. Quentin leads the league in goals per game (6.64) and plus/minus per game (8.18) and by a fair margin.
Friday, July 5
Dallas Roughnecks at Raleigh Flyers - 7:00 PM/ET
- Jay Froude (DAL) — The Dallas offense works best when Jay and Abe (and Carson, out this weekend) are on the field together, most games they're at the top of the Roughnecks plus/minus and lead the team in both goals and assists. Playing in the AUDL together since they were Radicals in 2016, Froude and Coffin have connected for 13 of their combined 55 assists on throws to each other.
- Allan Laviolette (RAL) — The last time the Roughnecks visited Raleigh was in week 11, when Dallas was on the second day of a 2 game road trip and Laviolette took full advantage of the opportunity. Scoring 5 assists on just 16 throws (1 throwaway) Laviolette had his most productive game of the season. With Dallas rested and both teams missing some key young contributors, the Flyers hope for a similar result and a repeat performance from Laviolette.
Saturday, July 6
Pittsburgh Thunderbirds at Detroit Mechanix - 4:00 PM/ET
- Max Sheppard (PIT) — Apparently empowered by the MVP win in the all-star game, Max has been on fire the last two weekends. In home contests against Madison and Indianapolis he made plays on both sides of the offense scoring a combined 10 assists and 12 goals. Sheppard is sixth in the league in plus/minus per game for the season; if he keeps up this all-star game MVP momentum he'll join a larger MVP conversation in coming years. With a three game road gauntlet remaining, the Thunderbirds playoff fate is in their own hands. First up is a long drive to Detroit, then a week later they visit the top two teams in the Midwest Division, Chicago and Indianapolis to finish their season.
- Joe Cubitt (DET) — While week 13 didn't go as planned for Cubitt with the Wind Chill defense suppressing his attacks on Saturday and the weather interrupting Sunday, he's still been the most useful tool for the Mechanix this season. Cubitt's been active all 10 games for the team this season (one of two players) and leads the team with 27 assists.
DC Breeze at Toronto Rush - 4:00 PM/ET
- David Shields (DC) — As they pursue the east division title and home field advantage in the playoffs, the DC Breeze need big performances from their whole squad and support for their heralded reigning MVP. Shields has been a solid worker for the Breeze defensive line all season and in week 13 he led the team with a plus/minus of 6 after earning 2 blocks, 2 assists and 2 goals against the Phoenix. Facing a Rush team with something to prove, the Breeze will need Shields and his defensive cohort to step up.
- Nathan Hirst (TOR) — On the experienced and deep roster of the Toronto Rush, Hirst finds himself leading the team in goals (31) and tied with all-star representative Cam Harris in assists (32). While the team couldn't lock down their playoff bid in week 13, Hirst still played well with 2 assists and 6 goals without a turnover. He and Harris are sure to give the Breeze a challenge this weekend as they face off for the final time this regular season.
New York Empire at Philadelphia Phoenix - 6:00 PM/ET
- Grant Lindsley (NY) — The undefeated Empire have a lot of talent behind their record. Though he's in his first season with the team Lindsley has already made substantial contributions to the New York offense and fit in well with the already assembled pieces. Having not played since before the all-star break, Grant joined the team for the road trip to Canada in week 13 and had two excellent performances resulting in a combind 9 assists and 6 goals. With some key names inactive for this weekend's road trip, Lindsley will likely be in the highlights for the Empire again this weekend.
- Ryan Weaver (PHI) — In the Phoenix's historic win in Toronto they became the first team to sweep Toronto in a regular season series. Weaver had control of the offensive attack, scoring 8 assists and 2 goals in the most productive game of his AUDL career. If the Rush lose they will leave the door open for Philadelphia to win out for a record of 6-6 and make the playoffs due to their tiebreaker over Toronto. The Rush v. Breeze game happens two hours before the first pull of the Phoenix v. Empire game, watch for Weaver and the Phoenix to come out blazing with motivation.
Minnesota Wind Chill at Madison Radicals - 7:00 PM/ET
- Jimmy Kittlesen (MIN) — With the Wind Chill in crunch time seeking the playoffs Jimmy Kittlesen came up huge for the Minnesota defense with 6 blocks. Kittlesen leads the league with 28 blocks on the season and his effort has resulted in a defense that is confident with the disc in their hands. In their week 13 game against the Mechanix, Kittlesen and fellow defenders Leonard and Matis all had 100% throwing and tied for the team lead in plus/minus with seven. With the season sweep on the line in Madison this weekend the Wind Chill defense is sure to be fired up for a battle.
- Kevin Brown (MAD) — As the Radicals struggle to find goals this year, Kevin Brown has been finding his teammates in the end zone and leads the team by 15 with 32 assists. As Brown stepped into a larger handling role with the Radicals this year his consistency has only improved with his completion rate the highest of his career, excluding playoff statistics when he's had some of his best performances.
Chicago Wildfire at Indianapolis AlleyCats - 7:00 PM/ET
- Pawel Janas (CHI) — Pawel knows that the numbers in the box score don't perfectly reflect what happens on the field in an ultimate game at this point in the sport's history. The numbers do indicate that Pawel plays a highly efficient, grinding style of offense that leads to a lot of assists and tired defenders. His 559 completions and 61 goals through 10 games are league leading and despite all of that disc handling he's only had 18 turnovers and 3 drops this season. The plus/minus stat benefits cutters because of the harsh throwaway penalty but Janas is still 9th in the league thanks to his efficiency. As the Wildfire seek a playoff bye and home field advantage in the Midwest Division championship their leader is playing his best ultimate.
- Nick Hutton (IND) — The long-established offensive core gets a lot of attention when discussing the AlleyCats but Nick Hutton has been doing big things on the defensive side of the disc for Indianapolis for six seasons. So far he's only just off the league leaderboard and leads the team in blocks with 13 ahead of a mob of defensive teammates. Watch for Hutton to give his best as this should be a statement game for the AlleyCats defense ahead of the playoffs.
Dallas Roughnecks at Atlanta Hustle - 7:00 PM/ET
- Dalton Smith (DAL) — In his 4th season in the league, Dalton Smith is one of the original Roughnecks players who are still making a big impact on the team. He's still producing assists (17), goals (15), and blocks (6) for Dallas and if his completion % climbs year by year he'll soon be playing without throwaways! In his rookie season he threw 84 completions and 9 turnovers (89.4 comp%), while this season he's only got 8 turnovers and 223 completions (96.5%).
- Christian Olsen (ATL) — After the tough defeat in Dallas last Saturday evening Atlanta came out swinging in Austin and Christian Olsen was all over the box score in their 22-21 win over the Sol. Throwing a team leading 5 assists he also caught 2 goals in a very tight game.
- Matt Smith (ATL) — Matt Smith is very good at ultimate:
Los Angeles Aviators at Seattle Cascades - 9:00 PM/ET
- Eric Lissner (LA) — After a few games on the inactive list in the middle of the season, Lissner is back and ready for the playoffs with the Aviators. In their week 13 game Lissner scored 5 assists, a goal and 3 blocks as the Los Angeles offense successfully suppressed the Seattle attack and held them to 14 goals. After playing exclusively offense for the Aviators first game of the season, a loss, Lissner switched almost exclusively to the defense and has played well in that role.
- Mark Burton (SEA) — When the Cascades play at home Burton is usually available and when he's active he usually runs the offense. He's got great handles and can get the disc to most of the field from most anywhere else on the field. He's active this weekend so watch for him to run the show and put up some big assists to happy cutters. That is, unless the Aviators have a specific Mark Burton busting strategy from their experience playing against the Cascades these many years in the AUDL. When Burton was in LA last Sunday, he played 21 points, touched the disc 39 times and didn't get any assists, not one. A season low completion percentage will have Burton ready to make a statement this Saturday for an immediate rematch.
San Diego Growlers at San Jose Spiders - 10:00 PM/ET
- Steven Milardovich (SD) — In a nailbiter in week 13 against the Seattle Cascades, MIlardovich had an outstanding performance for the Growlers, scoring 5 assists and 6 goals. As with many players with 5 years of AUDL experience Milardovich's efficiency has improved year to year and he's making a big impact on the Growlers offense at the perfect time for their playoff push. As evidenced by his playing time game to game this season, Milardovich is their swiss army knife, adaptable and useful for any gameplan the coach puts together.
- Ethan Falat (SJ) — While he hasn't played since the all-star break a month ago, Falat is listed as questionable in the active roster for this weekend. His last performance was excellent. In a 25-22 win in Seattle, Falat scored 3 assists, 5 goals, and had two blocks. Hopefully he is able to play and give the San Diego defenders a test this weekend.