Starting with their last contest in June, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (8-4) enjoy a four-game win streak as they enter George K. Cupples Stadium for their final home match-up of the regular season on Saturday, July 15 when they clash with the Detroit Mechanix (1-12). The third meeting between these Midwest Division adversaries in the American Ultimate Disc League gets underway at 7:00 p.m.
Last week, Pittsburgh’s fourth consecutive victory was at home against the Minnesota Wind Chill (9-3), who are in second place in the Midwest, just ahead of the Black and Gold. Head coach David Hogan told Evan Lepler on the league website, “Our key break happened at 23-21, when Minnesota easily worked it to midfield with a pair of high-release backhand breaks. San VanDusen finally point blocked Ryan Osgar, then hit Pat Hammonds deep after a couple of throws to break upwind.”
Hogan continued, “I feel like we’re rounding into form. Our O-line still has some spacing and cut-priority issues to work out, but our D-line offense has improved markedly from where we were our first several weeks of the season. Getting an influx of Pitt players has also helped all facets of our defense. Their combination of athleticism and intelligence lets us play several different styles of defense throughout a game.”
Holding back the Wind Chill’s offense was the trio of Pat Hammonds, Sam VanDusen, and Jimmy Towle as they collected three blocks each. VanDusen also led in minutes played with 25. Mark Federenko hit the top of the score sheet with five goals while Ethan “Birdman” Beardsley chipped in four.
Tyler DeGirolamo kept the statisticians busy as he led the Thunderbirds with seven assists while chipping in two goals and two blocks. He earned the Stifel Financial Star Player of the Game honors in just his fourth game this season for the Black and Gold. According to Elliott Diamond on the team’s website, the 6-foot-3 O-line cutter left in the second half due to the possible lingering effects of a groin injury from earlier in the season.
Diamond also reported the following players, Alex Thomas, Kenny Furdella, Jack Hefferon, Jake Rovner, and Anson Reppermund, did not play against Minnesota as they were in Colorado for the USA Ultimate Pro-Elite Challenge. They will finish out the season with the T-Birds.
Detroit, who are 0-9 all-time during the regular season against the T-birds, could not handle the Wind Chill at home on Saturday, July 8, as they lost 31-17. One box score mainstay is the total number of blocks on defense, and the Men of the Motor City were on the wrong end of a 29-13 deficit against Minnesota.
Team captain Ryan Mariouw led the Mechanix with six goals in the defeat to the Men from the North Star State. Andrew Lucarotti helped to pace the attack with four assists while Mark Whitton and Kevin Nicholl contributed three blocks apiece. Joey Ricks racked up the most minutes of playing time with 41.
Prediction: This week, the busy staff at Massey Ratings favors Pittsburgh over Detroit 26-17 with the over/under resting at 42.5. After sorting through all of the socks in the hamper to find my crystal ball, I see the scoreboard reading 24-16 for the Black and Gold.
From The Clipboard: The bookkeepers at Massey raised the T-birds up two slots to No. 17 this week in their Power Rankings while keeping the Mechanix in the basement at No. 24. With their -87 point differential eclipsed only by the Nashville Nightwatch’s -127, it is evident the Black, Burgundy, Gray have a long journey to rebuild their roster for 2018.
Next Up: Two games this weekend are critical. If Pittsburgh downs Detroit and Minnesota defeat the Indianapolis AlleyCats (4-7), it will become a showdown to see who claims second place in the Midwest Division.
The Thunderbirds conclude the 2017 campaign on the road Saturday, July 22, at Sea Foam Stadium, part of the Concordia University campus, against the Wind Chill at 8:00 p.m.ET.
Looking Back With TheAUDLChannel On YouTube.com – Game Highlights: Minnesota Wind Chill At Pittsburgh Thunderbirds — Week 15…