Weekend Game Preview

May 10, 2018
By Louis Zatzman

The Toronto Rush desperately needed – and earned – their bye last week. Though Toronto has played the fewest games in the AUDL, they’re certainly contenders for having traveled the most kilometres, having taken a bus trip to New York and Philadelphia, followed by a flight to San Francisco. And yet they’re 3-0.

No matter how tired are the Rush, beating the pants off of the team that beat them in the 2017 finals felt good. Jaret Meron described post-game how it felt:

“After the game, it was really satisfaction. We all went in wanting to make a huge statement, and to really leave no doubt, which is sort of one of the mantras that I think we're gonna be rolling with the rest of the season. Leave no doubt. Don't let teams hang around when we know that we're the better team and that we're out-working them, and to make sure that that reflects it at the end of the day.”

The Rush beat the FlameThrowers by ten points, receiving the usual balance of contributions across the board. No player on the team has compiled double-digit goals or assists; they’re a well-oiled machine that will roll over opponents, no matter which players are playing well or poorly. The Rush have skill at every position, which they ought to showcase against the Montreal Royals.

In particular, the Rush will be without key two-way handler Nathan Hirst and initiation cutter Jeff Lindquist. Both were significant contributors against San Francisco, as Lindquist threw two assists and Hirst added one assist and four goals. They’re both terrific in tight spaces, and losing players with that overlapping skill-set could hurt, especially against a Montreal defence that aims to shrink the field and make Toronto work for every yard. 

Thankfully, Jason ‘Sparkles’ Huynh will make his season debut for the Rush. He can play offence or defence, and his speed makes him deadly near the endzone. Huynh can function as a Hirst-facsimile, even if Lindquist’s creativity cannot be replicated. 

Montreal has had a topsy-turvy 2018 season. Believed to be a darkhorse playoff contender coming into the season, Montreal added Morgan Hibbert and Cam Burden to their already-stellar roster that lost to D.C in the 2017 playoffs. The season must be seen as a little bit of a disappointment, as Montreal is only 2-2 on the season, despite not yet having played New York or Toronto. 

Montreal opened the season with an impressive win over D.C, but has since lost twice to Philadelphia and required a miracle to beat Ottawa in overtime. Regardless, everyone with whom I’ve spoken around the East Division expects Montreal to click at some point. They have too much talent to finish the year with a .500 record. 

The Royals play with a simplistic verve, happiest when running athletes deep. They frequently use a basic vertical stack, content to allow players to improvise within a simple flow system. Minimalism is the key to unlocking chemistry for Montreal’s hordes of imports, ensuring that players from diverse geographical areas can play the same style. Montreal gets into trouble when they try to be fancy, throwing scoobers in tight corners, or throwing overs as resets instead of simple around-backhands. Keeping the game as basic as possible while staying patient will be key for Montreal. 

On defence, the Royal run a hard person-to-person system that emphasizes the athleticism of Montreal’s individual players. In 2017, the team amassed bounties of blocks, but they had trouble converting break chances. The team is focusing on changing players’ mindsets after a turn, emphasizing passion while playing defence and then immediate calmness after forcing a turnover. 

Montreal will be without several important depth pieces, none more significant than their star receiver, Quentin Bonneau. Bonneau caught 55 goals for the Royal in 2017, though it seems the Rush will have caught a break not to face him. Regardless, at some point this season, Montreal will string together a series of wins. Toronto will fight to delay Montreal’s inevitable surge for at least one more week. 


Stat Watch

Montreal (4 games played)

Assist Leaders: Goal Leaders: Block Leaders:
Stève Bonneau – 13
Yoland Cabot – 12
Antoine Genest – 12
Miguel Goderre - 11

Cam Burden – 14
Francis Vallée – 13
Mike Voelpel – 11

Miguel Goderre – 6
Cam Burden – 5 


Toronto (3 games played)

Assist Leaders: Goal Leaders: Block Leaders:
Andrew Carroll – 8 
Adrian Yearwood – 8 
Jay Boychuck – 9
Andrew Carroll – 6
Bretton Tan – 6
Isaiah Masek-Kelly – 6 


The line: Tor (-3.5) vs Mon (+3.5), per AUDL Pick ‘EM.