The Breeze are now 3-2 after the loss to the Toronto Rush in Canada last weekend. Returning to Hotchkiss Field, the team will look to continue their impressive 3-0 start on their home turf Saturday. They face the Montréal Royal (2-3), a team only one game behind the Breeze in the standings but three full places back in a tight East Division race. Separating the two teams are New York and Ottawa, both 2-2.
Offensive inconsistency was perhaps the primary culprit in the team’s two losses. In both of those games, the Breeze were missing key parts of the starting O-line. But then, against Ottawa at home, the team was missing two of their three starting handlers and still cruised to a comfortable win. Last week in Toronto, Max Cassell (12 goals, nine assists) was out but Tyler Monroe (14 goals, 14 assists) was back in the lineup.
Tyler Monroe opened the 2017 campaign with this layout save + assist April 9
It will be key for the team to get off to a hot start this weekend. In four of the five games this year the team rocketed out to a nice lead thanks to multiple early breaks, and held on for the win in all but one (Raleigh). The lone exception to a fast start was the team’s most recent loss to Toronto, a game marred by a late arrival and short warmup. If the Breeze win the flip, expect them to elect to receive to begin the game.
As one of the two female head coaches in the East Division, Guylaine Girard is bringing in a hungry Royal squad. The team arrives on the heals of a thrilling 26-25 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Phoenix at home. It was their second loss in a row following a shocking road upset over the Toronto Rush April 29, and a previous thriller against the Phoenix that they won in double overtime.
The Royal offense will primarily start with Antoine Genest and Félix-Antoine Daigle who have combined for 336/362 throwing so far this year. From there, do not expect the pair to get the disc back too often except for a high stall count or end zone reset, because Montréal’s offense is confident with their cutters’ throwing abilities.
As far as goal scorers, Quentin Bonnaud (11 goals) and Kevin Groulx (10 goals) lead the way so far in 2017. However, these two are not necessarily the team’s primary cutters. The offensive unit has seen a variety of different faces rotating into the mix through the first five games. Defensively, André Arsenault (nine blocks) will be tasked to match up with either Jeff Wodatch (eight goals) or Monroe.
Like the Royal O-line, the defensive unit is fairly loose. As a result, their defense can score in bunches, which has them breaking opponents nearly 35 percent of the time they get the disc.
The Breeze are 4-3 all-time against the Royal, and the home team has won four of the seven contests. Sitting a half-game behind Toronto for the division lead and with a only a slim half-game lead over New York and Ottawa in addition to the one-game lead over Montréal, DC needs a result or risks falling several spots further in the standings from only one game. A victory would also give the Breeze a head-to-head win over four of their five opponents in the East, which could come into play as a tiebreaker at the end of the season. All four are expected to compete for the playoffs.
First pull is at 6:30 p.m.