The Charlotte Hounds on Friday night fought back from a five-goal halftime deficit to beat the Atlanta Blaze 15-14 in overtime at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The win was the third-straight for Charlotte, and moved the Hounds to 6-3 on the season and into second place in the standings. Mike Chanenchuk was named Coca-Cola Player of the Game after scoring the equalizer with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation, as well as the game winner 43 seconds into OT. He finished the night with six goals and two assists. Meanwhile, the Blaze was lead by Kevin Rice with five points on three goals and two assists.
Brendan Fowler won the game’s opening faceoff for the Hounds, setting up a quick goal by rookie Ryan Brown. Blaze attackman Randy Staats, who missed last week’s game against the Hounds, scored one minute later, the first of a four-goal run for the home team over a three-minute span. Joey Sankey stopped the momentum with a shot off a great spin move, pulling the Hounds back within two. But Rice scored with four minutes left in the quarter and Adam Ghitelman made seven-straight saves to keep the Blaze ahead 5-2 after one.
Ghitelman opened the second quarter with another save on a shot from Brown, but Pat Young finally broke through after 2:32 of play to make it a two-point game. The Blaze offense countered with another two goals before Chanenchuk scored on the run to make it a 7-4 game with 7:40 left in the half. Staats and Justin Pennington each added their second of the night, moving the Blaze in front 9-5. John Haus got one back for the Hounds, but Rice matched to maintain a five-goal lead for Atlanta at the break.
Halftime adjustments paid off for the visitors, as the Hounds opened the third with four-straight goals — two each from Kevin Crowley and Chanenchuk — to cut the Blaze lead to 10-9. It was the first multi-goal run of the night for the Hounds. Phil Castronova halted the Hounds momentum, scoring in transition less than one minute later to put the Blaze back up by two. The teams traded goals to close out the third with Atlanta ahead 12-10.
Graeme Hossack was hit with a pushing penalty just over one minute into the fourth, and Haus capitalized on the man-up to bring the Hounds back within one. The teams traded goals before the game was halted due to a serious injury on the field. Blaze midfielder Matt Mackrides took a hard hit trying to plow through the Hounds defense and lay facedown on the field for several minutes before being carried away on a stretcher. Mackrides was breathing and responsive though his movement was limited.
The game restarted with 8:17 left on the clock and Ryan Tucker scored a quick goal for the Blaze to reestablish a 14-12 advantage. The next seven minutes went scoreless as both teams struggled to find their footing following the pause in action. With 1:35 left on the clock, Chanenchuk pushed past Blaze defender Greg Danseglio and beat Ghitelman to pull the Hounds back within one. Charlotte regained possession with approximately 20 seconds left on the clock and immediately called timeout. Will Haus was given the ball to initiate. He dashed up the field and found Chanenchuk who nailed the equalizer with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
In the opening faceoff of overtime, Michael Ehrhardt forced the Blaze’s Chris May to knock the ball out of bounds, giving Charlotte the first possession. The Hounds got the ball to Chanenchuk and he nailed a left-handed shot on the run to seal the 15-14 come-from-behind victory, which also solidified a season-sweep of the Blaze for 2016.
All MLL teams will be on a bye next weekend as the league hosts its 2016 All-Star Game at Cal-State Fullerton on Saturday, July 9. Joey Sankey, John Haus, Brendan Fowler and Michael Ehrhardt will be representing Charlotte at the event.
The Hounds will return to action on Saturday, July 16, with a rematch against the Rochester Rattlers at Wegmans Sports Complex. When these teams first met in Charlotte on April 30, the Hounds came away with a 14-11 victory. The Rattlers currently have won five straight and will look for their sixth against the Boston Cannons on Saturday, July 2. Faceoff between the Hounds and Rattlers on July 16 is schedule for 4:30pm.