May 25, 2023
By Sam Weiger
Houston Havoc at Carolina Flyers
Friday, May 26 - 7:00 PM/ET - Watch link
This road trip could wreak havoc on Houston’s playoff chances. They are coming off a disappointing loss at home to an average Growlers team. Carolina has rebounded after a slow start to the season, thanks to the return of some key players from injury and the addition of some new talent.
The contributions of Liam Searles-Bohs and Matt Gouchoe-Hanas have been a major factor in Carolina’s rebound. Carolina’s lineup, which now features Searles-Bohs, Gouchoe-Hanas, Jacob Fairfax, and Sol Yanuck, is undoubtedly capable of winning the South Division.
The Havoc, also in the South Division, are playing their first game outside of Texas. Unlike most teams, almost all of Houston’s top players are hybrids. Dealing with Ben Lewis, Matt Bennett, John Shelley, and Jimmy Zuraw on offense and defense will be a challenge for Carolina.
However, Carolina is as healthy as they’ve been all season and has found their offensive stride. Until Houston proves they can compete with a playoff contender, don’t expect them to win games like these.
One Big Number:
17.5 - The Havoc are struggling to score against playoff contenders, averaging just 17.5 goals per game.
23.5 - The Flyers are averaging 23.5 goals per game since Searles-Bohs and Gouchoe-Hanas made their Week 3 debuts. They were averaging 17.5 before then.
Philadelphia Phoenix at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
Saturday, May 27 - 6:00 PM/ET - Watch link
Philadelphia can finally catch their breath after facing the Empire twice and the Breeze once in the first four games of the season. The Phoenix are now 0-4 and will have to face a Pittsburgh team fighting for a playoff spot next.
Philadelphia’s overtime loss to the Empire last week was arguably their best performance of the year. James Pollard had a career game, with four goals, four assists, and 682 yards. He and Sean Mott led a perfect Phoenix huck percentage against the best team in the AUDL. Expect the hucks to continue and plenty of shots to Greg Martin in the end zone against Pittsburgh. Martin scored a season-high eight goals last week against New York.
Pittsburgh appears better than Philly on the stat sheet so far in 2023, but their schedule has been easier. Last week, Minnesota gave the T-birds a wake-up call. They held Max Sheppard, Carl Johnson, and the Pittsburgh offense to 12 goals and forced a number of turnovers.
Philadelphia made the playoffs last year after starting 0-3, and they know they need to win this game to have any chance of making the playoffs this year. The Phoenix will beat Pittsburgh if they can replicate their performance from last week.
One Big Number:
75 - Philadelphia has had the toughest schedule of any team in the league, but they have still managed to complete 75 percent of their hucks. This is the second-best huck percentage in the AUDL among teams that have played two or more games this season.
29 - Pittsburgh had a season-high 29 turnovers against Minnesota last week, which is more than their total turnovers in their first two games combined.
Chicago Union at Madison Radicals | Game Of The Week
Saturday, May 27 - 7:00 PM/ET - Watch link
The Central Division, unlike any other division, has five teams that are capable of making the playoffs. Chicago and Madison are two of those teams, but neither team has won a game yet this season. The Radicals desperately need this win, and this also feels like a must-win for the Union since they will play Minnesota the next day.
It is clear that the Radicals miss Kevin Pettit-Scantling, who has the fifth-most blocks of all time. The Radicals are one of the worst teams in the league in blocks per game this season. Andrew Meshnick, with an average of 27.8 blocks per season from 2014-2018, is a strong candidate to pick up the slack. Madison’s offensive standouts, Victor Luo, Anthony Gutowsky, and Avery Johnson, will need to step up if the team’s low blocking numbers continue.
Team chemistry appears to be the Union’s biggest issue. Hucks were a major problem in their Week 3 loss, especially for Jack Shanahan. He has a great opportunity to improve his huck percentage against the defensively struggling Radicals. Nate Goff is also a player to watch, as he appears to be adopting a new offensive role.
Chicago has won four out the last five meetings with Madison. The Radicals have lost their first two games of the season by one goal, and this matchup could also come down to the wire.
One Big Number:
30 - The Union completed only 30 percent (3/10) of their hucks in Week 3.
8 - The Radicals are tied with the Nitro for the fifth-fewest blocks per game in 2023, with eight.
Houston Havoc at Atlanta Hustle
Saturday, May 27 - 7:30 PM/ET - Watch link
The Havoc will face Atlanta on the second night of a demanding back-to-back. In 2023, AUDL teams have a losing record (3-6) when playing their second game of the weekend. The only teams to win in this situation were playoff contenders Colorado, Salt Lake, and Oakland.
The Hustle’s road woes continued last week, but the good news is that Hayden Austin-Knab and Mischa Freystaetter have been on an upward trajectory over the last couple games.
The Havoc have the second-best red zone defense in the AUDL, allowing only 72.58 percent red zone conversion percentage, which is second best in the AUDL. However, when the Hustle are at home, they have converted an impressive 87 percent of their possessions within 20 yards of the end zone. If the Hustle can maintain their red zone efficiency against Houston, they will be in a good position to win the game.
Atlanta’s home crowd, one of the best in the AUDL, has helped them win nine of their last 10 home games. The Hustle’s strong home field advantage should continue this week.
One Big Number:
12.3 - Houston ranks third in the league in blocks per game (12.3), with 12 different Havoc players already having at least two blocks on the season.
95.4 - The Hustle have a 95.4 percent completion percentage in their last nine home wins, but only a 91.3 percent completion percentage on the road during that same time frame.
Minnesota Wind Chill at Chicago Union
Sunday, May 28 - 5:00 PM/ET - Watch link
Minnesota asserted themselves as the top team in the Central Division last week with a blowout win against Pittsburgh.
The Wind Chill lead the league in hold percentage, and they also boast a 95 percent completion percentage this season. Minnesota is arguably the deepest team in the AUDL, with more players averaging a plus/minus of at least three per game than any other team. Five of them are averaging a plus/minus of at least four per game: Brett Bergmeier, Quinn Snider, Colin Berry, Marco Dregni, and William Brandt.
Union cutter Ross Barker was born and raised in Minnesota and has had some big games against the Wind Chill throughout his career. This will be Chicago’s third game of the season, so Barker is expected to have better chemistry with goal-scorers like Andrew Sjogren.
This is the second game of a double header for both teams, but the Wind Chill will have a significant advantage because they are playing the worst team in the league the night before. The Union will likely face a tough Saturday night battle against Madison, so put your money on Minnesota to stay undefeated.
One Big Number:
10 - Minnesota has 10 players averaging a plus/minus of at least three per game.
19 - Nate Goff has already played more points on offense this year (19) in one start than he did during the entire 2022 regular season.