Hounds at Blaze Game Preview
After dropping the season series to the Denver Outlaws, the Hounds seek to add a tally to the win column against the Blaze on the road. Last season, the two teams split the season series, but in the first matchup, the Blaze edged the Hounds 19-18 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The 19 goals Charlotte surrendered was the second-highest total they allowed all season.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite Matt Rambo's game-high six points, the Hounds dropped their first home game of the season and the two-game series to the Denver Outlaws, 16-13. With five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Hounds clawed back to within one goal after trailing by five early in the game. But on the defensive end, Brett Schmidt picked up an untimely technical foul for playing on after losing his glove while defending an Outlaws' attackman. Denver was awarded a 30-second power play and ultimately capitalized through Eric Law, who scored his team-high fourth goal of the game. Another goal from Chris Cloutier gave the Outlaws a 16-13 advantage, which they refused to relinquish in the final two minutes despite Charlotte's last-ditch efforts.
ALL EYES ON RAK
In the rookie's previous two games, he shared time at the X with Kevin Massa, but will take sole possession of the faceoff duties against the Blaze. Rak has proven that he can compete at this level, winning 17-of-37 faceoffs this season and it helps that he'll have support from Michael Ehrhardt and John Haus on the wings this week.
"Last week, (we didn't have) Michael Ehrhardt and John Haus up the middle of the field and they are good for a couple possessions every game," head coach Jim Stagnitta said. "We'll get a good look at Rak this weekend. It's a lot easier when you have Ehrhardt to the right and sometimes John Haus to the left of you."
However, Rak will have a tough task in Atlanta squaring off against one of the league's best in Joe Nardella. This season, the faceoff specialist has won 84-of-151 faceoffs, good for the second-highest win percentage in the league.
SCOUTING THE BLAZE
Outside of Nardella, who won 24-of-41 faceoffs in his Blaze debut last week against the Lizards, Atlanta is led by MLL points leader Kevin Rice. The attacker has tallied 14 goals and 19 assists this season for 34 points and spearheads the Blaze's sharpshooting offense. Along with Deemer Class, who's scored a league-best five two-point goals this season, Atlanta has proven they're deadly from distance. However, this week, the Blaze's outside the arc offense will meet one of the best defenses in the league. Goalie Charlie Cipriano and Charlotte have allowed just one two-point goal all season and are averaging a league-best 12.2 goals against per game.
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