This weekend the Breeze travel to the Montreal Royal (6-4) on Saturday and the Ottawa Outlaws (2-5) on Sunday. Heading north of the border for the final time in the regular season, the DC Breeze have a chance to sweep two teams and clinch a playoff berth. Winning both would also put the team at nine wins, enough to clinch a playoff spot. Accomplishing this, though, will be a tough task considering that the Breeze have never swept a two-game road trip in team history.
The fact that it is a doubleheader weekend makes this task just a little taller. Traveling on the road is hard for AUDL teams, especially when you have to cross the border. In the AUDL East, when crossing the border, teams are 6-9. The onlyAmerican AUDL East team to win in Canada this season is the Philadelphia Phoenix.
Making it even tougher, handlers Alan Kolick (24 assists) and Markham Shofner (11 assists) will be missing. Cutters that will be gone include Tyler Monroe (23 goals), new addition Joe Freund (seven goals), and Brian Marshall (seven blocks).
A win over Montreal would be the Breeze’s second sweep against the Royal, their first since 2014. Earlier this season, DC won at Hotchkiss 23-20 holding on a three point lead throughout the second half. The Royal have won four straight since that loss to climb into third place in the division. Currently sitting at 2.5 games above the New York Empire and the Ottawa Outlaws for the final postseason spot, Montreal could simply split the rest of their games to cruise into the playoffs.
Playoffs are not their only goal, though, as first place is still within reach.
Félix-Antoine Daigle was the biggest problem for the Breeze in the last matchup. Three goals and four assists made Daigle the Royal’s top scorer, and he also had the most touches in completing 38 of his 40 passes. Fortunately for the Breeze, he will be missing this contest due to the World Championships of Beach Ultimate taking place this weekend. Joseph Genest (seven blocks), and Antonie Genest (30 assists) will also be gone. This leaves one of the league’s top scorers in Quentin Bonnaud (32 goals) along with André Arsenault (19 goals, 12 blocks), so expect both to get time on O and D-lines. Both teams missing top players will force the defensive offense of both teams to be the difference maker when they get a chance for a break.
For Ottawa, time is running out. They sit outside the playoff picture with half of their schedule remaining. Of their seven final games, four will be at home. This gives the Outlaws plenty of opportunity to make a run, but riding a three game losing streak, a win is extremely pivotal to start the trend. Alec Arsenault is out due to Beach Worlds after compiling 40 goals in seven games. Other than Arsenault, the Outlaws are pretty short on goal scorers but will need someone to step up. Derek Anderson (26 assists, 338 touches) is the focal point of the offense but he will be short staffed without his downfield target.
The offensive unit for DC will likely be Lloyd Blake, Nathan Prior, Jonathan Neeley, Max Cassell, Jeff Wodatch, Chuck Cantone, and one more player cycled in. With Nate Castine returning, handlers will be plenty to come by on the defensive line after 16 points last week.
Not short of talent, this will be a big opportunity for the bottom half of the roster. Jonny Malks (one game), Troy Holland (two games), and Ryan Nam (three games) are all active this week. There are no guarantees for them, but Prior was once in their cleats and is now a starter on the O-line. Of note, Matt Kerrigan is on the weekend roster, but is only an emergency substitution as he still works to recover from his shoulder separation May 13 in Toronto.
Winners of two straight, DC looks to keep rolling and control their own playoff destiny. This trip is key as the Breeze look to hold the advantage for No. 1 seed in the East.