There are going to be stars on the field and fireworks in the sky Friday night as the Outlaws (7-2) host the Boston Cannons (4-5) for Denver’s annual Mile High Fourth of July celebration game featuring a spectacular firework show following the game.
The Outlaws will look to rebound after dropping just their second game of the season in a tough road contest against the Rochester Rattlers last weekend.
“We played a game against a tough opponent in their stadium and they beat us,” Denver head coach B.J. O’Hara said. “We’re going to continue to do the things we do. We’re going to prepare the same way. We’re going to continue to play the same style of lacrosse that we’ve played for a number of years. That’s all we can do.”
The Cannons are also coming off a close road loss after dropping last week’s game against the Charlotte Hounds, 15-12.
The Outlaws are 7-8 against Boston all time but have won the last three matchups between the two teams. Earlier this season, Denver won in thrilling overtime fashion, beating the Cannons on the road thanks to a Chris Bocklet goal in the extra frame.
The Outlaws will attempt to be the first team in the league to reach eight wins, and have been able to rely on players at both ends of the field this year in doing so. Attack man Eric Law is third in the league with 25 goals and attack man John Grant Jr. is tied for fourth with 14 assists.
On the other end, midfielder Kelly Anthony and defenseman Matt Bocklet have scooped 43 and 39 ground balls, respectively, both top-10 marks in the league. Anthony has also won 55 percent of his face-offs.
In goal, Jesse Schwartzman has dominated with a league-leading .627 save percentage. He is also the only goalie with significant minutes to average less than 10 goals against per game. Schwartzman has been busy of late — he played in the MLL All-Star game on Thursday, then in the Outlaws’ game on Sunday and is prepping for the World Games where he’ll play for the USA — but O’Hara believes he’ll be ready to go on Friday.
“I know he will come back this week fully rested and charged up and ready to go, ready to lead our team like we need him to,” O’Hara said.
Boston’s attack is led by Paul Rabil and Will Manny. Rabil leads the MLL in points with 42 on 16 goals and 25 assists. Manny is fifth amongst all players with 34 points. Overall, the Cannons have four players on the top-10 point list this season, the most of any team.
In goal, Jordan Burke is averaging 11.46 goals against per game and has a .542 save percentage for Boston.
“We had a great game with them last time,” O’Hara said. “It’s going to come down to the tail-end of the fourth quarter to see who comes out with a victory. They’ve got awfully good talent all over the field.
O’Hara also mentioned that he and his team were looking forward to the support they would have from their 12th man on the Fourth of July.
“I’m sure the guys will tell you it’s what they play for,” he said. “It’s an exciting event, it’s a beautiful stadium. It’s just the kind of night that you hope you can play your best. That’s where they’re at right now — preparing for a big night in a great venue.”