UTICA, BALTIMORE SQUARE OFF IN GAME ONE OF EASTERN DIVISION FINAL
Tonight’s Game: Utica City FC and the Baltimore Blast battle in Game One of the Eastern Division Finals in the Ron Newman Cup Playoffs. Kickoff at SECU Arena is at 6 p.m.
Regular Season Recap: Utica City finished its inaugural season with a 17-7 record and an Eastern Division Regular Season Championship. They won four of their last five games and five of their last seven. Utica outscored their opponents 162-119 during the regular season and had three separate win streaks of three or more. City finished 9-3 at home and 8-4 on the road. Slav Ubiparipovic, Joey Tavernese, and Bo Jelovac finished as the team’s top three scorers with 40, 34, and 32 points respectively.
Head to Head: Utica and Baltimore met six times during the regular season with each team winning three games. Baltimore won the most recent edition 5-4 in a shootout on March 31. City outscored the Blast 34-23 during the season series.
Scouting the Blast: Baltimore finished the regular season with a record of 17-7, good for second place in the Eastern Division. Jonatas Melo led all scorers with 41 points, followed by Vini Dantas with 31 points. They finished the season with a +42 goal differential.
Special Teams Battle: Special teams will likely play a huge factor in this series. Utica finished the regular season with the fourth-best power play in the MASL, converting on 52.5% of their opportunities. Baltimore’s penalty kill finished sixth in the league at 58.8%. On the flip side, City checks in with league’s second-best penalty kill at 67.6%, while Baltimore ranks seventh, operating at a 45.2% clip.
Balanced Attack: Part of Utica’s success this season can be attributed to the team’s ability to spread out the offense all throughout the lineup. Utica boasts 12 players with 10 or more points, seven players with 20 or more points, three players with 30 or more points, and one player with over 40 points. Of the 12 players with at least 10 points, 10 of the 12 have scored 10 goals or more this season. Look for this balanced attack to continue in the postseason.
Coming In Hot: Mauricio Salles has been on an absolute tear. Salles is riding a seven-game point streak, picking up 11 points (7-4-11) during that timespan. Additionally, four of his seven games were multi-point efforts. He also leads the team with six power play goals. Overall, the forward notched 16 points (12-4-16) in 15 games this season.
Goaltending Duel: This playoffs series will feature two of the league’s top goalkeepers. Utica’s Andrew Coughlin comes in with a record of 17-6-1 as well as the league’s sixth best goals-against average (4.74) and ninth best save percentage (.657). Baltimore’s William Vanzela finished 15-6 on the year with the third-best GAA (4.09) and the league’s best save percentage (.753).
Next Game: The two teams will meet again in Game Two Monday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at (315) 790-9070 or by visiting www.empirestatetix.com. The game can be viewed on Eleven Sports.