Photo by Jeff Bell – Ultiphotos.com
The Nighthawks’ weekend doubleheader ended with a pair of losses to Portland and Seattle, but a few players made their season debuts for the Nighthawks.
Mustering just a pair of breaks in the game, the Nighthawks fell to the undefeated Stags 24-16. The Stags, who lead the league in a myriad of statistical categories, came out rolling against the Nighthawks. Timmy Perston scored the first goal of the game for the Stags and then the Nighthawks got broken when Peter Woodside found the end zone.
Scoring just twice in the first quarter, Vancouver fell behind 8-2 after ten minutes. Portland scored four consecutive breaks to end the first quarter with Brian Penner punching in a pair of scores to take an 8-2 advantage. But then the Nighthawks played some of their best offense of the season. Working through rookie handler Sascha Lo, who had 60 completions in the game, Vancouver converted on all of their offensive possessions in the second quarter and got a break back against the Stags.
Vancouver’s 317 completion vs. Portland’s 193 is evidence of Vancouver’s quick passing offense with a lot of touches per possessions.
Trailing 12-7 at halftime, Vancouver would not get any closer. Portland’s defensive line, led by Woodside and Riley Meinershagen, caused havoc and forced the Nighthawks into 25 turnovers. Woodside finished with five goals, two blocks and an assist as the Nighthawks didn’t have an answer for the 6-foot-4 cutter. Lo’s work as the central cog in the offense provided opportunities for Taylor Nadon to make plays. He scored four goals and threw three assists in the loss, while fellow veteran Erik Hunter scored three goals and threw a pair of scores as well.
Fans saw the return of a Nighthawk on Saturday as Levi Jeske made his debut for the Nighthawks against the Stags. He finished with one goal on 10 points played.
After the loss to Portland, the Nighthawk’s headed south for their meeting with the Seattle Rainmakers.
Unfortunately, Vancouver was unable to build upon the progress they had made on offense in the second quarter of the Portland game. Turning the disc over 33 times, Vancouver fell to 0-5 with a 28-18 loss to the Rainmakers (2-2).
In the first quarter, Seattle held a 5-3 lead over the Nighthawks when Rainmakers rookie Luke Jesperson recorded a callahan by intercepting a Nighthawks throw in the end zone for a Rainmakers score. Seattle went on to score three goals in a row, ending the first quarter up five points on Vancouver with a 9-5 score. The Nighthawks struggled to get anything going in the second quarter, falling behind 16-6 as they enter halftime. Vancouver converted on just 36.7 percent of their offensive points against Seattle, a mark that is below their season average.
However, the Nighthawks did a better job of converting on defense against Seattle. They scored on 35 percent of their defensive points, more than doubling the rate at which they’d converted to this point in the season.
A bright spot for Vancouver this weekend was once again Hunter. The 29-year old followed up his three goal, two assist performance against Portland with a four goal, two assist performance against Seattle. Hunter, who leads the league in points played this season with 104, is currently in the top five in scoring as well with 23 points.
For Seattle, Evan Klein was the clear standout. He had five goals and two assists to bring him to the top of the Rainmakers leaderboard for scoring this season with 17 points.
Head Coach Patrick Gatien made his season debut as a player against the Rainmakers, playing six points and throwing an assist in the loss. Transitioning to the role of player-coach for the remainder of the season, Gatien will provide the Nighthawks with another primary handler and could serve as a key cog in their offense.
Seattle’s defense proved to be too much for Vancouver, as they forced 16 breaks nearly tying the record for breaks in a single game (18).
The team’s will square off once again next weekend, for the third consecutive week. The Nighthawks will host the Rainmakers at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, Ca. Opening pull is set for 6:00 PM PT. Tickets can be purchased here and the game will be streamed on MLU Live.