When the schedule was released a few weeks ago, the two weeks I had circled on my calendar were when the Syracuse Silver Knights traveled to the Midwest to play three games in three nights in two different cities, and their first two games out west in Turlock and San Diego. For the first time in history, the Knights traveled to the West Coast to face off against two formidable opponents. I also had this week circled because I wasn’t sure how this team would gel together, considering the roster wasn’t finalized until the week before. After Sunday’s defeat in San Diego, I can safely say this Knights team will be just fine this year. Here’s why:
- Nick Perera at the point is a huge upgrade over previous Knights point men. In the game winning goal against Turlock, midfielder Kenardo Forbes passed to Perera in the middle, and with no time to think, he one-timed the ball back to a streaking Forbes, who calmly put it past the Turlock goalkeeper. At 6’3″ 200 pounds, Perera can also be physical at the point with any defender. This mix of craftiness and strength, will help Syracuse in the upcoming season.
- The defense looks much better than last season. Coach Ryan Hall is a defense-first coach, and after watching both games this season, emphasis was placed on getting back and playing on defense after an offensive possession. San Diego is a high powered offense with the likes of Kraig Chiles, Max Touloute and Luan Oliveira, and the defense shut them down. I’ve seen both of them in action, and when they’re on their game, they can put up some numbers. Speaking of defense, Andrew Coughlin is reminding me of a younger Bryan O’Quinn, making remarkable saves in both contests.
- The schedule bodes pretty well for the Knights, with four games against the St. Louis Ambush, two against Milwaukee, and one against Cedar Rapids. If I were to play a team out of the Central Division, I’d much rather play the Ambush. I will admit this is a much better Ambush team, but playing them four times is a huge plus.
My only concern for the Knights is the power play and penalty kill. Last season, the Silver Knights led the MASL in the power play, but were towards the bottom in the penalty kill. Right now, the Knights are .25% in the power play, and 50% during penalty kill situations. In order for the Knights to take it to the next level, these numbers will need to go up.
Until next time, what say you MASL Nation?