The Rattlers first year in Texas provided the players with an incredible facility, meaningful support from the community and new ownership that is committed to MLL’s new Southwest frontier. The Rattlers players got a taste of much of what the Outlaws have enjoyed in Denver when they joined the league in 2006.
While the landscape and other things may have changed, make no mistake there is some history between the players that will compete tonight. This familiarity will make for an entertaining battle on the MUSC Health Stadium field.
The Outlaws and Rattlers met in the 2014 MLL Championship Game, in the 2017 playoff semifinals and in two games this season that was decided by a single goal with one coming in overtime. While the location of the rivalry has changed, the players that have been part of this rivalry for the past five seasons undoubtedly remember all of the past 12 meetings since 2014.
In fact, the Rattlers have eight players on the current roster that took the field in the 2014 championship game against Denver that are still seeking their first MLL title. Meanwhile, there are four Outlaws and an assistant coach on the 2018 roster that won the Steinfeld Trophy in 2014 against the Rattlers.
The Rattlers’ John Galloway, Michael Lazore, Jordan MacIntosh, Michael Manley, Donny Moss, John Ranagan, Joel White and Jordan Wolf played in the title game against Denver in 2014.
Matt Bocklet, Eric Law, Mike Simon, Drew Snider, and current assistant coach, John Grant Jr. were on the field for the Outlaws. In fact, it was Snider who scored the game-winning goal with :56 left in the game. Denver had trailed 10-6 entering the final quarter. Grant Jr. had three goals and an assist for the Outlaws and was named Most Valuable Player.
Last season, the teams squared off in the semifinals. The Outlaws led 7-4 entering the final quarter and then scored eight unanswered goals to put the game on ice.
A total of 14 Rattlers on the 2018 roster appeared in the 2017 game. Ned Crotty, Matt Dunn, Galloway, Lazore, MacIntosh, John Moderski, Moss, Jack Near, Ranagan, Drew Simoneau, Jordan Stevens, Ty Thompson, White and Wolf. Thompson had a hat trick in a losing effort.
While 10 Denver players return from last year’s squad, Jack Kelly is injured and will not play, leaving a possible nine who will see action Saturday night. Wes Berg, Bocklet, Zach Currier, Romar Dennis, Matt Kavanagh, Law, Simon, Snider and Finn Sullivan played against the Rattlers in 2017.
The Rattlers got the best of the Outlaws twice this season. Dallas won 15-14 in overtime in their first-ever home game on April 29 at the Ford Center at The Star, with Thompson providing the heroics with 8:39 elapsed in the extra session.
After Denver had taken a 14-13 lead on Kavanagh’s second of two fourth-quarter goals with 5:45 left, Dallas’ Wolf tied the score just 43 seconds later. Galloway made 16 saves for the win.
When the two teams met on July 22 in Denver, rookie Chris Cloutier, who had made a huge impact for the Outlaws since being inserted into the lineup on May 19, faced the Rattlers for the first time. Cloutier entered the contest with 24 goals and 12 assists in his first five MLL games.
Shortly after helping the Outlaws increase their halftime lead from 6-4 to 10-5 with his second goal and second assist of the game, Cloutier suffered a season-ending knee injury. Dallas then scored eight of the final 10 goals of the game, with Rattlers’ rookie Ben Reeves scoring the game-winner with just 10 seconds left.
The win was Dallas’ fourth straight regular-season win over the Outlaws. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Rattlers have a 7-5 record against the Outlaws, but two of the five losses came during the postseason.