The goalie credits his defense. The coach credits his goalie. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. For the second game in a row and third time in the last four contests, the Chesapeake Bayhawks shut down their MLL opponent by conceding fewer than 10 goals en route to their sixth consecutive win easing past the Boston Cannons 15-8 in front of an announced crows of 5,244 Monday night at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.
The effects of a 16 day layoff and an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring the victims of Thursday’s mass shooting at the Capital Gazette were apparent early for Chesapeake as the Bayhawks committed four first period turnovers with two of them leading Boston’s only goals of the quarter. In fact, 5:45 into the game, the Cannons held a 2-1 lead. Despite yielding these two early goals, the Bayhawks’ defense showed no rust whatsoever holding Boston scoreless for the next 17:40. The offense used that time to find its footing and Chesapeake ran off six consecutive goals to take a 7-2 led by former Maryland Terrpain Colin Heacock who registered a goal and an assist during the run. Before the game ended, Heacock would find the net twice more including ripping the first two point goal of his MLL career late in the third period.
The game marked the Annapolis debut of the Cannons’ top draft pick Trevor Baptiste. Baptiste struggled early against the Bayhawks face off specialist Stephen Kelly with Kelly controlling six of the game’s first eight face offs. Baptiste fared better in the second quarter including notching what I call the FOGO hat trick winning a face off, the ground ball and scoring on the same play which he did with just over four minutes to play in the half. He repeated that feat late in the third quarter as well and would end up winning the face off battle 13-11.
However, the defense forced no fewer than four Boston shot clock violations and when the Cannons could manage a shot, Niko Amato was up to the task as Chesapeake’s last line of defense. Amato had a serviceable first half saving four of the eight shots he faced. He was locked in throughout the second half allowing just four goals while registering nine saves finishing the game with 13. Amato credited his defense. Bayhawks head coach Dave Cottle credited his goalie saying, “Our goalie’s playing really well.”
In his post game comments, Cottle also called the win “the most important win of the season.” The win improved the Bayhawks’ record to 7-2 but they are the only team in the league that has played fewer than 10 games. With two games remaining on the current home stand and just five in the season for Chesapeake, Cottle viewed picking up this seventh win as a crucial piece in the drive for the playoffs. The Bayhawks have a short turn around. They will host the New York Lizards Saturday night with the face off scheduled for 7:00 pm.