Plagued by weather delays and struggles at the face-off X, the Florida Launch fall 16-13 to the fifth-ranked Atlanta Blaze in their final home game at FAU Stadium.
After losing faceoff specialist Ben Williams to injury on the opening faceoff, the Launch struggled to maintain possession in the first quarter. After seeing Williams out for the game, Coach Tom Mariano said, “Losing your face-off man in the first play, makes for a very long day.” Trading blows for the first four minutes, the Launch and the Blaze stayed locked at 2-2, with Launch goals from midfielders Connor Buczek and Steven Brooks. Quickly breaking the tie, the Blaze would go on to score five unanswered goals, sending the Launch into the second quarter trailing 2-7.
The Blaze’s five-goal lead would not last long, however, with attackman Ryan Drenner tallying his first goal of the night 11 seconds into the second quarter. Drenner’s goal would send the Launch off on a four-goal scoring run, with Kieran McArdle scoring two and Bryan Cole closing it out with one to make it a one-goal game. Although the Blaze quickly retaliated with goals from Christian Cuccinello and Daniel Eipp, shots from Buczek and Drenner helped the Launch close in on the Blaze’s lead, sending Florida into the locker room down by two.
After exchanging shots, the third quarter came to a halt due to lightning, prompting the start of what would be an hour-and-a-half weather delay. The Launch took advantage of the break, however, to reorganize, returning to action with a hat trick from Buczek. Maintaining momentum, Dylan Molloy tallied his first goal of the night to even things up for the first time since the first quarter. The Blaze, unwilling to let go of their lead, quickly responded with goals from Scott Ratliff and Kevin Rice to close out the third quarter.
Securing the third hat trick of the evening for the Launch, Cole cut the Blaze lead down to one goal yet again. On Cole’s performance, Coach Mariano stated, “He’s a grinder.. really slippery and able to get scoring opportunities, he gives a lot of dimension to us.” Atlanta would quickly respond with a shot to extend their lead back to two. Despite fighting to even up the score and force extra minutes, the Launch’s offensive effort ultimately fell short against the Blaze’s defensive powerhouse.
Looking towards Dallas next week, Coach said, “We have to finish together, work hard, compete one last time with your brothers.”
The Launch close out their season next weekend, traveling to Dallas to take on the Rattlers on August 4 at 8 p.m. Watch LIVE on LSN or follow along with us on our Twitter for live updates.