Photo by Michael Bury – Ultiphotos.com
The Nighthawks (0-5) look to build on progress made during the first half of the season as they take on the Rainmakers (2-2) at Thunderbird Stadium.
After a pair of games last weekend that once again left the Vancouver Nighthawks pining for their first win of 2016, the team is preparing to dig in on their home field and continue to build their offense.
Taking on the Seattle Rainmakers for a third consecutive week, the Nighthawks are searching for a successful strategy against Seattle after falling to them in consecutive weeks.
Starting a season with a new front office, a new head coach, and a roster full of young players is a tough recipe for success out of the gate. Building a cohesive offensive line takes time to develop, and that’s been one of the major struggles for the Nighthawks this season. Converting on 40.3 percent of their offensive points this season, an improvement after entering Week 4 converting on 37 percent of their offensive points, the Nighthawks need to get that number north of 50 percent to start winning games in the Western Conference.
After an impressive second quarter against Portland in Week 4 where the Nighthawks moved the disc with fluidity and purpose, the Nighthawks were running their offense heavily through handler movement. Vancouver leads the MLU in Touches Per Offensive Possesion (TPOP) in 2016 with 6.317. Rookie Sascha Lo completed 60 passes, good for a pair of assists in the loss to Portland and was key in the Nighthawks moving the disc against the Stags.
“We do have some key handlers that we like to run the offense through, Sascha [Lo] being one of them for sure,” Nighthawks head coach Patrick Gatien said. “As the rest of the team gets more and more comfortable and confident, they’ll start to make plays of their own.”
Gatien himself, who made his season debut last week, will also become a part of the offense as the season progresses.
“It felt good to be back on the field,” Gatien said. “It takes a little adjusting to get used to how big the play area is, but hopefully I adjust to that quickly and my timing comes back so I can help the team in certain areas.”
The Nighthawks will be without Jazz Groden-Gilchrist and Ty Barbieri, two players whom Gatien has relied on to play significant points throughout the season.
The good news for Vancouver is that Erik Hunter, Graeme Barber, Taylor Nadon, Sascha Lo, Ted Chu, and Mitchell Dozzi-Daigle are all active against the Rainmakers. The most brief injury report to this point in the season, the Nighthawks will need depth against the Rainmakers.
Khalif El-Salaam is active for the first time since Week 1 for the Rainmakers, which will undoubtedly be a challenge for the Nighthawks after not facing El-Salaam in the two prior matchups.