With the addition of the Boston franchise, the AUDL announced a divisional realignment for the 2020 season. The South and Midwest divisions will be renamed the Atlantic and Central, respectively, with five franchises shifting into new placements:
This week the league announced a new Boston franchise set to begin play in 2020. The Boston team (yet to be named) brings the league total to 22 teams, and the move marks the first expansion for the AUDL since 2016. Boston will compete in the East Division alongside the New York Empire, Montreal Royal, Ottawa Outlaws, and Toronto Rush.
Earlier this offseason, the league released an article detailing expansion opportunities for franchises in Kansas City and Portland, as well as Boston. At this time, there are no further developments regarding an expansion to Kansas City or Portland in 2020.
The New York Empire defeated the Dallas Roughnecks 26-22 in the eighth AUDL Championship Game this past Sunday to complete their undefeated season, finishing with a perfect 15-0 record. The day before, the Empire defeated the Indianapolis AlleyCats 17-15 in the semifinals to advance to the championship.
Beau Kittredge added a fifth AUDL title to one of the most impressive resumes in the history of the sport. His five titles have been won with four different teams: San Jose Spiders (2014, 2015), Dallas Roughnecks (2016), San Francisco Flamethrowers (2017), New York Empire (2019). As AUDL announcer Evan Lepler mentioned prior to the weekend, no professional athlete in the Big Four major sports has ever won a championship with four different teams.
In the championship game, Grant Lindsley, Ben Jagt and Harper Garvey combined for 29 scores (goals plus assists), with Jagt’s five assists and six goals leading the trio. Lindsley finished with nearly 800 yards of total offense (398 receiving, 391 throwing), putting up the highest yardage total of any player this past weekend between the three games played. Garvey threw for nearly 500 yards, while Jagt finished with 358 yards receiving.
With the Indianapolis AlleyCats and Dallas Roughnecks winning their respective divisional championship games this past weekend, the field is set for AUDL Championship Weekend 8. The champions of the Midwest and South will join the New York Empire and San Diego Growlers in San Jose on August 10-11 weekend. The teams have been re-seeded as follows: New York Empire (1), San Diego Growlers (2), Dallas Roughnecks (3), Indianapolis AlleyCats (4).
The Empire and AlleyCats will go head to head in the first semifinal game on Saturday, August 10 at 4:00 PM/PT. Then the Roughnecks will take on the Growlers immediately following the first game at 7:00 PM/PT. The championship game will be played by the two semifinal winners on Sunday, August 11 at 12:00 PM/PT.
Championship Weekend 8 will officially play host to the only two-time AUDL MVPs in league history: Jonathan "Goose" Helton of the Growlers and Beau Kittredge of the Empire. Helton, in his first year with the Growlers, returns to Championship Weekend for the first time since 2013. Kittredge makes his return to San Jose after leading the Spiders to back-to-back AUDL titles in 2014 and 2015.
Bonnaud Sets Goals Per Game Record
Finishing the season with a 10-goal game against the Philadelphia Phoenix, Quentin Bonnaud of the Montreal Royal set a new league record, averaging 6.9 goals per game in 2019. The previous record was held by Mischa Freystaetter, who in 2016 scored 95 goals in 14 games (6.8 goals per game). Freystaetter holds the AUDL record for most goals in a single season, however Bonnaud may have broken it this year if not for the shortened 12-game season.
Bonnaud finishes 2019 with 83 goals, 24 more than the next closest player. His plus/minus of +101 also led the league, and he set career highs in completions (208) and completion percentage (96.3 percent). Bonnaud was responsible for (scored or assisted) 41.2 percent of Royal points this season.
Pittsburgh Wins 8 of Last 9 to End Season
After starting the season 0-3, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds went 8-1 over the remainder of the season to finish with the second seed in the Midwest. They head into the playoffs after defeating the Chicago Wildfire and Indianapolis AlleyCats by a combined 21 points this past weekend to close out the regular season.
Pittsburgh missed the playoffs in 2018 for the first time in franchise history after finishing 4-10 on the year. The team this season has been led by the play of MVP candidate Max Sheppard who this past weekend became the fifth player in AUDL history to join the 50/50 club by finishing a season with 50 assists and 50 goals. The Thunderbirds will take on the Chicago Wildfire in round one of the playoffs at home this Saturday, July 20. A win puts them in the Midwest Divisional Championship Game, where they would play the AlleyCats in Indianapolis.
The Wildfire made the playoffs in each of their first three seasons, including a regular season division title in 2013. The team then failed to make the playoffs for three straight seasons, before clinching a playoff berth this past weekend. Currently in first place in the Midwest, a lot can change over the next two weeks as the Wildfire can finish anywhere from first to third. They'll take on the Indianapolis AlleyCats (7-3) and Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (5-4) over the next two weeks to wrap up the regular season. Due to the playoff implications of the games, both games were flexed to Game of the Week status and will be broadcast nationally on Stadium.
The Indianapolis AlleyCats defeated the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds 23-20 this past Saturday, ending the Thunderbirds' five-game win streak and improving to 2-0 against the team this season. The Thunderbirds' win streak was sandwiched between two home losses to the AlleyCats, with the first loss coming in their home opener back in Week 5.
Travis Carpenter finished with five assists in game, while Levi Jacobs and Rick Gross each added five goals. Carpenter's 43 assists this season ranks eighth in the league. The AlleyCats improved to 7-3 with the win and will have the opportunity to reclaim first place in the Midwest this week against the Chicago Wildfire, a team they'll play at home in the Week 14 Game of the Week. The Wildfire notched two wins this past weekend and have now won four straight, albeit three of which have come against the winless Detroit Mechanix.
The Philadelphia Phoenix (3-6) defeated the Toronto Rush (6-5) 26-24 this past weekend, completing an unlikely season sweep after failing to win a game against the Rush prior to this year. While making the playoffs will still be an uphill battle for the Phoenix to say the least, Saturday's win mathematically keeps their hopes alive.
In order to earn the third and final playoff spot in the East, the Phoenix need to win their remaining three games against the New York Empire (11-0), Ottawa Outlaws (2-8), and Montreal Royal (3-7). The Phoenix point differentials for the season against the three opponents, respectively, are as follows: -14, +5, -10. In addition to winning out, the Phoenix also need the Rush to lose to the DC Breeze this weekend in Toronto. The teams' previous matchup in the Week 11 Game of the Week resulted in a one-goal Breeze win.
The San Diego Growlers (8-2) can clinch a home playoff spot with a win over the Seattle Cascades (2-7) this Saturday. The Growlers have just a +3 goal differential on the Cascades this season, and suffered one of their two losses to the Cascades back in Week 5. The teams met last week in Seattle where the Growlers pulled out a 30-25 win.
After missing the playoffs each of their first three seasons in the league, 2019 is the second straight season the Growlers have made the playoffs and the first season in which they've finished with a winning record. Last season they met the Los Angeles Aviators in the West Division championship game in LA, losing 26-22 to end their season. With a Growlers win this week, the two teams will meet again in the West Division championship but this time in San Diego, as the Growlers look to push for their first ever AUDL Championship Weekend appearance. The West has sent a different team to Championship Weekend each of the last four seasons.
Midwest Still Up For Grabs
With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Midwest Division remains the cloudiest division in the AUDL. No team in the division has clinched a playoff spot, whereas six of the seven playoff teams across the rest of the league have been decided. The Indianapolis AlleyCats (6-3), Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (5-3), Chicago Wildfire (5-3), Minnesota Wind Chill (5-5), and Madison Radicals (4-5) will battle it out over the remaining weeks for three playoff spots. The Wildfire have a chance this week to end the weekend in first place if they're able to defeat the Radicals on Friday followed by the Detroit Mechanix on Sunday. The other key Week 13 matchup is AlleyCats vs. Thunderbirds in Pittsburgh - a battle between the first and second place teams.
For the first time in franchise history, the reigning AUDL champion Radicals find themselves in unfamiliar territory; the team has a losing record and sits in fifth place in the division. Since their inception in 2013, the Radicals have won the Midwest Division every year, never finishing with more than three losses, a mark they hit just once back in their inaugural season. They are still alive, however, but they will have to win out in order to make the playoffs. Working in their favor is home field advantage; the Radicals finish the regular season with three straight home games: vs. Chicago, vs. Minnesota, and vs. Detroit.
Empire Stay Perfect vs. Raleigh
In a highly anticipated interdivisional matchup between the number one and number two teams in the league, the New York Empire (9-0) defeated the Raleigh Flyers (7-2) 25-24 in a sudden-death double overtime win. The Week 12 Game of the Week ended appropriately with a Jack Williams huck to Beau Kittredge, who toed the line in the back of the end zone to clinch the win for the Empire. In his return to Raleigh, Williams finished with two assists and four goals, bringing his season totals to 22 and 18, respectively. Ben Jagt continued his MVP-caliber season, notching nine assists and six goals in the game. He now has 83 scores (goals plus assists) for the season, second only to reigning MVP Rowan McDonnell for most in the league. With the win, the Empire clinched first place in the East, earning themselves a first round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs.
For Raleigh, the loss snapped a seven-game win streak that began the day after their season opening loss to the Dallas Roughnecks. With the Roughnecks also sitting at 7-2 and having split 1-1 head to head with the Flyers thus far, first place, and home field advantage in the South Division championship game, will likely come down to the Roughencks vs. Flyers game on July 5. In their previous matchup, the Flyers defeated the Roughnecks 27-18 in Raleigh. For Dallas, it was their largest margin of defeat in franchise history.
Breeze Look to Clinch Playoff Spot
Coming off back-to-back wins last weekend against the Toronto Rush and Philadelphia Phoenix, the DC Breeze (6-4) host the Phoenix (2-5) at home in Week 12 as they look to secure a playoff spot for the fourth straight season. The Breeze enter the week as the number four power-ranked team in the league, their highest ranking to date.
In two previous meetings against the Phoenix this season, the Breeze have won by scores of 20-18 and 21-16. As evidenced by the team's Week 7 win over Toronto, the Phoenix are not to be taken lightly; Philly held an 11-9 lead on the Breeze at halftime in last Sunday's game before the Breeze went on a third quarter run. Tickets to tomorrow's game are available on the breeze website.
The Los Angeles Aviators (6-3) defeated the San Diego Growlers (7-2) on the road this past weekend 18-17. It was the Aviators' first win against the Growlers this season, and they will finish the regular season with a 1-3 head-to-head record. Three of the four regular season meetings between the teams were decided by two goals or less.
18-year-old rookie Danny Landesman led the way for the Aviators on Saturday, tying with Jonathan "Goose" Helton for a game-high +7 plus/minus. Adding four goals against the Growlers, Landesman is now up to 27 goals on the season, tied for ninth most in the AUDL this season. The next time the two teams will meet will be in the playoffs in the West Division championship game. The Aviators will be looking to make it to their second straight Championship Weekend, while the Growlers hope to make it to Championship Weekend for the first time in franchise history.
The Raleigh Flyers (7-1) defeated the Dallas Roughnecks (6-2) 27-18 on Saturday to remain in first place in the South Division. The nine-point loss was the largest margin of defeat for the Roughnecks in the team's four-year history.
Dallas had no answer for Raleigh's Mischa Freystaetter, who recorded a game-high +10 plus/minus with six goals, three assists and one block. 2019 All-Star selection Jacob Fairfax also shined for the Raleigh offense, finishing with six goals and four assists. Facing the Tampa Bay Cannons (4-4) at home in Week 12, the Roughnecks can clinch a playoff spot with a win this weekend. The Flyers face the undefeated New York Empire (8-0) in the Week 12 Game of the Week, and they too can clinch a South Division playoff spot with a win and Cannons loss.
Sheppard Wins All-Star MVP
This past Saturday, the best players in the league gathered in Madison, WI for the inaugural AUDL All-Star Game. The game went to a sudden-death double overtime, and Team KPS was able to pull out the one-goal win over Team Rowan. Following the game, Max Sheppard of the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds was named All-Star MVP. Sheppard, who played on Team KPS, finished with a game-high +8 plus/minus in 29 points played. His five assists also tied for a game-high.
The Thunderbirds captain leads his team in goals this year with 26, and ranks second on the Thunderbirds in assists (21) and blocks (6). Last season Sheppard finished with 95 total scores (goals plus assists), sixth most in the leauge. His average of 6.7 scores per game in 2019 ranks seventh in the league and is just under his 6.8 scores per game average from a season ago.
Growlers Clinch Playoff Spot With Win
The San Diego Growlers (7-1) defeated the Los Angeles Aviators (5-3) 20-18 on Saturday to clinch a playoff spot in the West for the second straight season. The Growlers made the playoffs for the first time last year after finishing 7-7 in the regular season — now with seven wins, they are a lock to finish over .500 for the first time in team history. Saturday's win was their third win in as many games against the Aviators, and the two teams will have their final regular season meeting when the league resumes play post-all-star break on June 15.
The Growlers have been led this year by all-star selections Travis Dunn and Jonathan "Goose" Helton, who have combined for 58 assists, 40 goals, and 12 blocks through the first eight games of the season. Dunn and Helton will face off in the inaugural AUDL All-Star Game this Saturday, June 8 at 7:00pm.
After not losing a home game to a division opponent since their inaugural 2013 season, the Madison Radicals dropped their second home game of the year to the Indianapolis AlleyCats on Saturday. The game marked the first time in franchise history the AlleyCats won on the road in Madison. Last season, the AlleyCats got their first win against the Radicals at home in Indianapolis, ending a six-year drought against their division rivals. The team was led by the play of Travis Carpenter, who led the AlleyCats in assists (3), blocks (3), completions (37), points played (22), and plus/minus (+5). The AlleyCats improved to 5-3 on the year, while the Radicals dropped to 4-3.