NATIONALS KICK OFF SEASON IN DENVER
5/12/11 12:00 AM
(Hamilton, May 12)… The Hamilton Nationals will open its season on the road on Saturday, May 14th against the Denver Outlaws at 9:00 p.m. at INVESCO Field. The game will be broadcast live at 9:00 p.m. on ESPN3.com.
Hamilton is 2-4 lifetime against the Denver Outlaws, which includes a 10-9 victory over the Outlaws in the 2009 MLL Championship Game. The Nationals were 0-2 against Denver as they finished 3-9 in 2010.
Denver is coming off an 8-4 season and a trip to the MLL Semifinals. The Outlaws finished tied with the best record in the MLL, but were knocked off by the Long Island Lizards in the postseason.
The Nationals relocated to Hamilton from Toronto in the offseason and will now call Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University its home. The team also has new personnel on the sidelines with rookie head coach Regy Thorpe, and assistant coaches Jason Johnson, Brian Hobart and Gary Gait. Only Johnson is returning from the 2009-10 seasons.
“We had a great start to the weekend,” said Thorpe. “We have players on our roster that are committed to Hamilton and the MLL first. We might make some changes throughout the year, but the balance of our roster is intact.”
The Nationals are led by leading scorer John Grant Jr., five-time Defensive Player of the Year Brodie Merrill, and Six Nations and Syracuse star Cody Jamieson. Grant enters his third season with the Nationals after leading the club with 36 points in 2010. The Peterborough native is one of four top point producers returning from last season. Joining Grant is Kevin Huntley (19 points), Jordan Hall (19 points) and Brett Bucktooth (15 points). Hamilton will also count on offense from Jamieson, who is coming off a superb indoor season in Rochester. “Jammer” led all rookies in points and led the Knighthawks with 28 goals.
One of the key additions is midfielder Joe Walters, who missed the 2010 season. He was a member of the 2009 Nationals’ championship team and won back-to-back titles from 2008 to 2009. Additionally, Brian Christopher enters his third season in the MLL and first with the Nationals. He was selected with the fifth pick in the second round (14th overall) by the Denver Outlaws in the 2009 MLL Collegiate Draft.
The midfield also includes returners Craig Point (Six Nations) and Dan Dawson (Brampton). Newcomers to the midfield include Jarrett Davis and Tyler Burton (St. Catharines), who both played for the Rochester Knighthawks this season.
On defense, the Nats return perennial All-Pro Brodie Merrill, Sid Smith (Six Nations), Matt Vinc (St. Catharines), Steve Panarelli and Steven Waldeck. The team added former Syracuse standout Sol Bliss who signed as a free agent. The Nationals boast d-Middies Billy Dee Smith (St. Catharines), Kyle Rubisch (Brampton) and Donny Moss. Geoff Snider is the primary faceoff man and provides toughness and a side of grit to the team. Snider is eighth all-time in faceoff wins (689) and seven in faceoff attempts (1,353).
The Nationals’ roster features three goalies as second-year pro Scott Rodgers, veteran Brett Queener and newcomer Joe Marra will backstop Hamilton. Rodgers ranked second among MLL goalies with a .571 save percentage and third with a 12.26 goals-against average. He finished fourth in the outdoor league's rookie of the year voting. The goalie was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NCAA Championship as he helped Notre Dame reach the title game of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Queener has two championships to his resume, winning in 2008 and 2009, while Marra spent three seasons at Fairfield University (2008-10) and was originally drafted by the Chicago Machine in 2010.
The Outlaws return leading scorer Brendan Mundorf (22+16), who finished fourth in the MLL with 38 points. Denver has all three of its top point getters back from 2010, which includes Drew Westervelt (32 points) and Max Seibald (30 points). Matt Brown, who tied Mundorf with 22 goals, is also in the lineup again for the Outlaws.
The Outlaws have also bolstered their lineup with a series of trades. On April 27th, Denver added midfielders Bill McGlone and Jarrett Park from the Rochester Rattlers. McGlone enters his sixth season in the MLL and played in 10 games last season, netting 16 goals and recording five assists to finish with 22 points. Park is entering his seventh MLL season and has collected 30 goals, 26 assists and 170 ground balls. Denver also acquired midfielder Peet Poillon from the defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks in exchange for attacker Dan Hardy, on May 10th. Poillon is tied for third in the league with 24 goals, including two 2-pointers, and ranked fourth with 15 assists, finishing with 41 total points in 2010. He also earned All-MLL honors and was named the MLL's Most Improved Player of the Year.
Jesse Schwartzman remains between the pipes for the Outlaws. The Johns Hopkins grad played the majority of the minutes in goal last season, going 8-3. He finished fourth in the MLL with a 12.39 goals-against average. Denver also can count on Army product Adam Fullerton. The fourth-year pro is entering his third season with the Outlaws.
The Nationals will host the 2010 MLL Champion Chesapeake Bayhawks in their home opener at McMaster University on Thursday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and are available on Ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-872-5000. For group sales please call 905-546-2391 or email Audrey.Arseneau@hamilton.ca