Photo by Jason Honyotski – Ultiphotos
A year after narrowly missing the playoffs, the 2014 New York Rumble squad could not fit all their pieces together and dropped to a 2-8 record.
They were a team with plenty of fire that could burn you in all areas, whether cutter Robbie Gillies was scoring one of his 18 goals or defender Joe Anderson was shutting down opponents from reaching the end zone. But the team’s fire also led to risky choices and inconsistent play.
The New York offense averaged an ineffective 16 points per game this season, but there’s not one player to blame. Reigning 2013 MVP Chris Mazur had a slow start (3 goals, 5 assists through 3 games) but was still able to finish with a solid season (14 goals, 20 assists, 7 defenses). Rookie Isaac Saul will admit that he needed some adjustments, but some could argue that as the season went on, he was the most reliable handler, throwing a team-high 23 assists.
The offensive challenge was getting everybody on the same page. Frustratingly, the Rumble had many overthrows, underthrows, and miscommunications that led to turnovers, a problem that did not decrease as the season progressed. The team also averaged 5 drops a game which may not seem like much but was huge. Each game, they wasted five possessions and gave break point opportunities to their opponents.
New York’s defense, on the other hand, was better than what some may think. Their offense gave up many break points but their defense kept them contending in many of their games. Anderson collected 8 defenses, while rookies Quinn Hunziker (9 defenses) and Marques Brownlee (11 defenses) stepped up and impressed. But like offense, when the defense gained possession, they rushed plays and gave possession back to their opponents.
Defense continuously allowed big scoring quarters to their opponents. Week 1’s loss to Boston got out of hand, allowing 8 goals in the third quarter. Although they would upset Boston in week 4, they allowed 7 goals in the 4th quarter to almost blow the lead. During the span of weeks 2-4, the Rumble led late in games but allowed opponents to come back and threaten to win.
At 2-2, the Rumble faced a fork in the road. They were riding high after an upset home win against Boston and were traveling to D.C. to try to go over .500 for the first time in the season. Instead, their season never got off the ground as they would have a six game losing streak in part to all their injured players. The Rumble injury reports this season looked like a hit list. Going into their crucial week 5 and 6 games against D.C., they had thirteen different players injured or inactive, (including Mazur, Gillies, Saul and the on-fire cutter Jack Marsh and defender Jonathan Cox). Going into their week 7 game, an ugly 23-6 loss at Boston, they added playmakers Anderson, Ben Faust, Iggy Yz, Dave Vuckovich, and Hunziker to the injury and inactive report. This plague of injuries in the middle of the season prevented the Rumble from continuing any team chemistry that they had gained through their first four games.
Through the injuries, Rumble fans saw the potential that many of the players have but were not able to fulfill. Defensively, Brownlee proved himself when fellow defensive cutters Marsh, Cox, and Hunziker all faced early exits due to injury. Vuckovich, Faust, and Michael and Matt Hennessy all had consistent seasons. Meanwhile, some players started slow only to have hot finishes, including offensive cutters Yz and Markian Kuzmowycz, and defender Matt Wilson.
While the Rumble put this season behind them, they have high hopes for the 2015 season. They have the pieces to create a dangerous team and, with a full year with the same squad working together, they hope to bring their fire back to New York.
Rivalry Fun fact: All three games against the Philadelphia Spinners were decided by one point this season. Two of the three were decided in double overtime.