Author’s Note: I’ll pass over the Charlotte makeup loss as it was so similar to other losses this season. I was able to watch both games over the weekend and I will be doing an update to my Opinion piece from earlier in the year to cover much of what I saw in those games. The turnover of players seems done for the season and the two games did highlight how the importance of moving the ball on offense means to the success of the team. Atlanta did not pose as much of a threat given their injury status and the shock of seeing their head coach let go mid-week. Suffice to say that the effort given by the Launch after their ‘sojourn’ from Charlotte to Atlanta, (for those who did not watch the broadcast the team had to bus to Atlanta and didn’t arrive until about 4:00am on Saturday) going out and basically dominating a game that night, was truly a nice feather in their cap.
The final home game against Rochester will see the last time Launch fans will be able to watch Casey Powell in uniform and there will be a separate story later on that. Launch fans also should think about participating in the EBay auction for the game worn uniforms that the player will autograph for you. The auction will benefit Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society.
The Florida Launch beat the Atlanta Blaze Saturday night to finish their two game road trip with a win. The Launch were led by Lyle Thompson’s two goals and four assists with Kieran McArdle’s four goals rounding out the effort. Florida return home to face the Rochester Rattlers on July 30 in what will be Casey Powell’s final home game for the team.
The Launch took control of the game early with Kieran McArdle finding the back of the net to open scoring. On the next possession for Florida, long range threat Connor Buczek stepped just over the two-point line to score. Rookie sensation Steve Pontrello kept the run going as he grabbed his own rebound to extend the lead. Atlanta finally broke their dry spell to get around goalie Austin Kaut for their first score of the quarter. McArdle wasted no time in responding as he took a feed from Chris Mattes off of the faceoff win to score. Atlanta turned the ball over leading to a goal in transition from Owen Blye. The Blaze struggled to create scoring chances for much of the period until the final minute mark when they netted two goals. The Launch led at the end of the first quarter 5-3.
Mattes took matters into his own hands from the faceoff as he got his first goal of the night to get the Launch going in the second quarter. Liam Byrnes forced a turnover on defense to give Florida another chance on offense. Lyle Thompson drew multiple defenders as he found McArdle open to record his hat trick. The Blaze once again took a while to get their offense going but scored after finding open net on Kaut’s left side. Thompson has been the team’s second best distributor in terms of assists this season but took a deep, unassisted shot to score his first goal of the evening. After a few empty possessions for both teams, the Blaze scored on an expiring shot clock to put them within three. Buczek pushed the lead back to four goals as he used his strength to push by a defender for his second score. One more for the home team still had the Launch up 9-6 at the halftime break.
Both teams were slow to get rolling in the second half but the Launch broke through with four minutes off the clock as Steven Brooks went low to score the first of the half. The Blaze took about five minutes to answer back with a goal as the slow pace continued for both sides. The trend of Florida scoring immediately after an Atlanta goal continued as Miles Thompson put up his first goal on an assist from his brother Lyle. The third quarter ended in similar form as the previous two with the Launch leading 10-7.
Atlanta picked up a goal to start the final quarter but Lyle Thompson answered back one minute later to restore the Launch lead. Florida looked to kill clock and slow the game down as a series of passes set up McArdle for an open shot attempt. His fourth goal of the night pushed the lead to the biggest it had been all night with five scores separating the teams. Blye hit his second goal as the Launch continued to run away with the lead. Florida held tough at the end to put the Blaze away as they win 14-8 in Atlanta.
The Launch return to FAU Stadium on Saturday, July 30 to play the Rochester Rattlers. Faceoff against the Rattlers is set for 7:30p.m. For tickets call 561-923-9067.