Hello MASL Nation, your old pal Merlin here! Week 15 did not disappoint as we saw great games all around the country. There are 10 games on the schedule for this week. Some teams will be attempting to solidify their spot in the playoffs, while others will be playing the role of spoiler. So, who wins?

Tonight, Monterrey rolls into Ontario, California, to face the Fury. Monterrey has a stranglehold on the Southwest Division, while Ontario is battling with Tacoma for that second playoff spot in the Pacific Division. So far, no team has been able to slow down the Flash, and tonight is no exception. The Flash win this one.

On Friday, the Florida Tropics play host to the Harrisburg Heat. Florida is currently 1/2 game behind the Syracuse Silver Knights for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division, while Harrisburg will be playing the role of spoiler both Friday night and Sunday night, which we’ll get to later on. I want the Heat to win. I really do. Do I make this game my upset special? WHY NOT? The Heat play spoiler Friday night in Lakeland. The Heat have been lost as of late, missing Lucio Gonzaga, who served a three-game suspension. So, why pick the Heat in this one? Well, Florida’s last game against the Heat was 12 days ago, and they managed to pull off a 5-4 victory. With Gonzaga back in the lineup, the Heat get a boost offensively and defensively, giving the Heat just enough to beat the Tropics.

Kansas City and St. Louis is the next game on the schedule. These teams met last weekend in St. Louis, with the Comets winning 7-6. The Ambush have been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Comets hold a slim hope, being 2.5 games behind Cedar Rapids for the Central Division’s second playoff spot. I give the edge to Kansas City in this one. They’re at home, and they know from here on out, that any loss could ruin any chance of post-season play.

Tacoma has the capability of defeating San Diego at home, and I know there will be a playoff like atmosphere at the ShoWare Center. Both teams need this win for different reasons: San Diego can clinch a playoff birth with a win, and Tacoma could use this win to take over that second playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Taking everything into account, I’m going with San Diego by one over Tacoma.

The final game on Friday night has Ontario traveling to face El Paso. The Coyotes held off Rio Grande Valley in a 14-12 shootout last Sunday. Fury fans, please just jump over this part, because I’m taking the Coyotes in this game. They’re on the tail end of a back to back, traveling all night, and facing an El Paso team holding onto playoff hopes themselves. I can see this game being high scoring as well.

Saturday features our Game Of The Week, as Baltimore travels to Milwaukee to face the Wave, in what could be a preview of the conference final later in March. Baltimore comes off an overtime victory against the Knights, while Milwaukee beat St. Louis 7-5 in their last game 11 days ago. High powered offense vs. a defensive minded team that loves to possess the ball. The Blast can punch their ticket to the playoffs with a victory over the Wave (of course, if Florida does lose like I think they will, the Blast will have already clinched it at this point). I like the Wave in this game, and here’s why: Let’s take a look at the last time Milwaukee played an Eastern Division team. They played Syracuse, a team who is similar to the Blast, in the fact they enjoy holding onto the ball for as long as possible, and held them to 0 goals. Zero. Milwaukee took them out of their element, and I think the same will take place Saturday night.

The next game has St. Louis hosting Cedar Rapids, as the Ambush celebrate “Alumni Night”. I wonder what former Ambush players think of this year’s team. I still think the Ambush could take a game or two from both the Rampage and the Comets to make this playoff race more interesting. The Rampage will win this one IF they play like they did in the third quarter against Syracuse last Friday night. If they play like they did in the other three quarters, the Ambush have a very good chance of winning. My money is on Cedar Rapids to win this one by two goals.

The third and final game on Saturday has the Soles de Sonora squad facing off against Turlock in Sonora. Turlock is used to a small playing field, so that’s not a problem for them. The problem for them will be leading goal scorer Franck Tayou. I see him scoring at least five goals in a romp over the visiting Express.

On Sunday afternoon, Harrisburg flies up to the Empire State, to face the Syracuse Silver Knights. I’ve already used my Upset Special, with Harrisburg beating Florida, so I guess I’ll just have to take the Knights over the Heat. I know, I had two last week, but those were my only two losses. I’m going to go back to one Upset Special a week. But seriously, this game, the Silver Knights will bring out their superpowers (it’s Superhero Night on Sunday), and pull off a win in front of the Oncenter crowd.

In the second game on Sunday, Rio Grande Valley travels to Monterrey to face the Flash. The Barracudas have a tough task in facing a Flash team that played Ontario three nights prior. Monterrey’s next game after this will be against Soles de Sonora, and I think they’ll be looking forward to this match-up. Does that mean they will overlook Rio Grande Valley? No, but the score might be closer than you might think. Game. Flash.

Speaking of Soles de Sonora, they travel up to San Diego to face the Sockers in the final game of Week 16. I LOVE this match-up, and will definitely be tuning in to watch this one. Kraig Chiles and Franck Tayou are two of the most exciting players to watch in the MASL this season. I give the edge to San Diego, because of the supporting cast around Chiles. Matt Clare, Luan Sales Oliveira, Chris Toth…the list goes on and on. I’m definitely not taking anything away from the Soles, as they have a great team behind Tayou, but the bench depth for the Sockers is a little better.

So to recap:

THURSDAY:
Monterrey > Ontario

FRIDAY:
Harrisburg > Florida UPSET SPECIAL (I really hope I’m right on this one…)
Kansas City > St. Louis
San Diego > Tacoma
El Paso > Ontario

SATURDAY:
Milwaukee > Baltimore
Cedar Rapids > St. Louis
Soles de Sonora > Turlock

SUNDAY:
Syracuse > Harrisburg
Monterrey > Rio Grande Valley
San Diego > Soles de Sonora

Last week I went 5-2, with my Upset Specials losing in close games. Maybe we should do point spreads from now on…nah, let’s not do that.

MASL Nation, the playoffs are right around the corner. What say you?

LAST WEEK: 5-2

OVERALL: 99-31 (0.761)