May 3, 2019
by Matt Rezin
We've got a busy weekend ahead in the AUDL with 10 games. In a 12 game regular season any win or loss can be hugely significant as teams jockey for playoff contention. With as much parity as the league has had in the 2019 season, close games do have a losing team and the Cascades and Hustle find themselves in must win mode with 8 games left to play. In order to turn their fates around they'll need to rely heavily on defense to make things happen generating turnovers and converting breaks. This week's Players to Watch focuses on some of the league's defensive playmakers early in 2019.
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Saturday, May 4
Montreal Royal at Toronto Rush - 4:00 PM/ET
- André Arsenault (MTL) — In his 4th campaign for the Royal, Arsenault has started strong, notching 2 blocks and 3 goals in the Royal's season opener against the Empire last week. That's pretty standard for André whose had a career plus-minus of 2.4 over 40 regular season games.
- Isaiah Masek-Kelly (TOR) — Returning to the field for his 7th year in the league the Toronto Rush rely on Masek-Kelly as a lanky lockdown defender who plays well in space and can handle any role on the field. Over his 6 seasons he's averaged 2.5 assists, 2 goals, and at least 1 block in 77 games. Impressive numbers that remain consistent across his 12 playoff games with the Rush, Masek-Kelly's all-around game is one thing they'll be able to count on as they open their home season.
Austin Sol at Atlanta Hustle - 5:00 PM/ET
- Mason Wuensch (ATX) — In his first three pro games Wuensch has already made an impact on the Austin Sol, second on his team with four blocks. Three of those blocks came in the Sol's first franchise win against the Roughnecks in week two. In his 41 points he's also converted 2 goals and hasn't made an error, adding solid defense to a Sol team scrapping its way through a tough South division.
- Karl Ekwurtzel (ATL) — The Hustle are playing everyone together this year with no real distinction between their offensive and defensive lines in the box score. It's all the more significant then when a player can differentiate themselves from their teammates. Karl is second on his team with three blocks so far this season, and is already seeing increased playing time from last year.
Indianapolis AlleyCats at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds - 6:00 PM/ET
- Spencer Loscar (IND) — A veteran of the AlleyCats, Loscar returns after an abbreviated 2018 season in which he played in 8 games. Through three games Loscar is on pace for a career defensive year, matching his blocks from 2018 in 85 fewer points.
- Anson Reppermund (PIT) — After Anson's cup of coffee in Madison to win a championship last year, Reppermund returns to the Thunderbirds to shore up the defense and has already made a huge impact on the team. His five blocks in two games matches his original stint with the Thunderbirds, in which he averaged an excellent 2.3 blocks per game. In a tight game, watch out for Reppermund to make the clutch block as he did down the stretch of week four's eventual overtime loss.
Ottawa Outlaws at DC Breeze - 6:00 PM/ET
- Paul Renaud (OTT) — A 5 year veteran of the league, Renaud is back to replicate his big 2018 season. Last year he had 17 blocks, 13 goals and 8 assists playing in every game for the Outlaws. Though they lost, Renaud made a big impact in the Outlaws opening game, scoring three blocks and two goals.
- David Bloodgood (DC) — After a year away, David Bloodgood is back to help the Breeze defense with his consistent handling after a turn, a turn which he may have also created. He'll look to replicate his 2017 numbers and put up more blocks and assists as the season goes on. He's had a strong start, playing error free through two games and putting up hockey assists.
Minnesota Wind Chill at Chicago Wildfire - 7:00 PM/ET
- Jimmy Kittlesen (MIN) — "Get the block, get the disc into the end zone" has to be running through Kittleson's head while he's on the field. This is his 5th season with the Wind Chill, over his career he's averaged roughly 2 blocks and a goal per appearance over 52 games. That's not going to change this season, unless he improves upon it as he's already got 3 goals and 4 blocks over 40 points played.
- Matt Rehder (CHI) — Mostly playing on the offensive line Rehder had a standout performance for the Wildfire in their first game of the season, scoring two blocks and four assists. This stat line from o-line play isn't rare for Rehder who joins the Wildfire after two years out of the league. Matt played for the Cascades during the 2015 and 2016 seasons and while he played mostly o-line then too, in 2015 he had 21 blocks in 9 games.
San Diego Growlers at Seattle Cascades - 9:30 PM/ET
- Steven Milardovich (SD) — A major defensive threat for the Growlers since 2015, Milardovich has consistently put up 2 blocks, 1.6 assists, and 1.3 goals over 53 games. When your stat line is that balanced you're making a huge impact when you play. Milardovich is playing both lines more this season and through four games he's been a veteran rock on the talent boosted Growlers roster.
- Shane Worthington (SEA) — Shane has been an important piece of the Cascades defensive line since joining the team for every game last season. That Cascades defensive line is going to have to be fired up this weekend as they welcome the undefeated Growlers to Seattle. If his career stat line holds, look for Shane to get at least one block and find his way into the end zone.
Los Angeles Aviators at San Jose Spiders - 10:00 PM/ET
- Eric Lissner (LA) — Playing both lines worked out pretty well for Lissner in 2018, the upward trajectory of his career plus/minus continued though more of the points came from blocks than assists. Through two games Lissner already has 6 blocks this season, if he's able to continue that pace his season would be among the best in league history.
- Keenan Laurence (SJ) — Another rookie making big things happen on defense, Laurence has played great ultimate through the Spiders first four games. Over 72 points he's got 6 blocks, 5 goals and has yet to make an error in his pro career. Blocks aren't easy to come by in the AUDL but Laurence seems to have the ability.
Sunday, May 5
Minnesota Wind Chill at Detroit Mechanix - 1:00 PM/ET
- Brandon Matis (MIN) — A Wind Chill defender since the franchise began, Matis is good for a block and a goal in any game he enters. He's a solid defender, fills space, leader on the field. Watch for him to get a clutch block or sky for the Wind Chill on the road on Sunday.
- Joe Cubitt (DET) — Among the group of young rookies to join the Mechanix this season, Joe Cubbit is putting up big numbers. Through two games, playing mostly for the o-line, Cubbit leads his team with 3 blocks. He also has 9 assists and 3 goals and has been the busiest player for the Mechanix, playing 61 points. Look for him to continue scoring this weekend as Detroit returns to their full squad with Mark Whitton active in week 5.
Austin Sol at Raleigh Flyers - 1:00 PM/ET
- Matt Bennett (ATX) — Matt has been a d-line handler since he joined the league with the Roughnecks in 2016. Sidelined by an injury last season, he's looking to return for a full 2019 season quarterbacking the Austin Sol defense. He's already got eleven assists and two blocks through three games, and he's looking to keep putting up numbers.
- Eric Taylor (RAL) — Another offensive player who has managed to put up defensive stats so far this season! With team block leaders Jakeem Polk and David Richardson inactive this weekend, Eric Taylor is next up with 3 blocks. An AUDL rookie, through four games Taylor has filled the handler role left open by an unavailable Jonathan Nethercutt and Jack Williams departure. He has managed the pressure well scoring 10 assists, 2 goals, and 16 hockey assists.
- Jonathan Nethercutt (RAL) — He's back.
Ottawa Outlaws at Philadelphia Phoenix - 2:00 PM/ET
- Greg Ellis (OTT) — After playing on the Rush d-line during the '16 and '17 seasons, Ellis joined the Outlaws last year mostly on o-line duty helping in the handler set. If the first game of the year is any indication, Ellis will have more d-line duty this season for the Outlaws. He put up a strong first showing against the Rush, scoring 4 assists and 2 blocks.
- Billy Sickles (PHI) — Billy's player page says he's a cutter but I see some things that would indicate otherwise... 7 assists and 6 blocks in his 2 career games? The only detail in his bio other than schooling is that he loves throwing IO scoobers? Sounds like a defensive handler to me. Billy is another player putting up gaudy block numbers while playing almost exclusively on offensive lines. Watch for Billy to get more blocks and assists from his Cutter position this weekend against the Outlaws.