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Buzzer Beater: Montreal Mélancolie (UFA week 11, 2024)

Buzzer Beater: Montreal Mélancolie (UFA week 11, 2024)

The Royals came close to another major victory, but were unable to close the deal.

The Montreal Royals will cross the Boston Glory line during the 2024 UFA regular season. Photo: Kathy Joyce – UFA

Royal Jokers

In another world, Montreal could be 7-3 and in the thick of the playoffs. Their 2-8 record simply isn’t indicative of a team that takes on Boston, New York and D.C.—the three teams in the East that have locked up playoff spots—harder than you might expect from another bottom feeder. In their first four games against that trio this season, Montreal has lost by a combined seven goals.

This week, the Royal had a golden opportunity to defeat the Glory and earn their first major league win of the season. A buzzer beater to end the first quarter started a three-goal streak that gave Montreal an early lead. The two teams traded goals, with neither team ever leading by more than two goals. The Royal received with 29 seconds left and the score tied. An inventive inverted scoober from Jakob Brissette set the offense going, and the Royal cleared the drive within a few feet of the end zone. Tobe Decraene, who had five assists and four blocks on the night, hit a blade in front of two open receivers to send the game to overtime. In the extra frame, Kevin Quinlan and Decraene both had throwaways on touchy out passes that gave Boston just enough of a chance to pull out a win.

Montreal had everything they needed to win this game, but they just couldn’t close it out. It’s been a few years since the team really got involved in the playoff bubble, so it’s understandable that the Royals’ grip is a bit tenuous. The players’ will to win was on full display in the second half and overtime of this week’s game, but the execution didn’t match their effort. Montreal’s performance this season could be a catalyst for improvement in 2025, or a sign that this team just isn’t ready to win despite their talent.

The East is considered the toughest division in the league, and breaking into the Boston/DC/New York triumvirate will be tough. It’s hard not to wonder if this iteration of the Royals could be a playoff team in any other division, and I hope we see them play some cross-divisional play in 2025 to really test that possibility.

Boston’s win keeps them in second place and above the New York Empire in the East playoff race. The Glory are on track to host their first playoff game and are on the verge of their best season in their young history. Watching them battle with the Empire and Breeze players who have been there before makes for some exciting playoff games.

News and notes

  • Houston defeated Dallas 15-14. The Legion came back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game, but the Havoc scored a point in the first five minutes to settle the score.
  • Elliott Moore’s +10 day helped Austin to a 28-18 win over Houston a day later.
  • Allan Laviolette’s seven assists, four goals and 783 total yards helped Carolina to a 24-19 victory over a resilient Philadelphia team. The Flyers converted six of their eight break chances.
  • Madison scored with seven seconds left to end a thrilling game with a 21-20 victory over Pittsburgh.
  • Chicago defeated Minnesota 25-20, despite Minnesota already having secured the division top spot. The Union’s Sam Kaminsky led the offense with a 64/65 pitching performance, four assists and three goals. Jack Shanahan had his own 4A/5G game.
  • Salt Lake and Oakland both defeated Portland, with Oakland securing a playoff spot with the win. The Shred were a perfect 22-22 in the red zone, and Oakland raced out to an 11-4 lead to build an unbeatable advantage. Portland’s Ben Thoennes threw down 10 assists in the two games.
  • Alex Atkins went 60/60 with four assists to help Colorado narrowly defeat Indianapolis. The result wasn’t enough for Colorado as Oakland eliminated them from playoff contention, but Indianapolis is still alive in the Central playoff race.
  • The Los Angeles Aviators fell to the San Diego Growlers 10-4, but came back to win 25-24. The Aviators slowly nibbled away at the lead and came back without having to make a big run. Sean McDougall’s five goals led LA.

Postbag

Do you have a question about the UFA? Send it to (e-mail address) with UFA Mailbag in the subject line. You can also message me on Twitter at @StallSeven, or subscribers can DM me in the Ultiworld Discord.

What do you see as the reason behind Colorado’s second consecutive less than expected season? – Theresa on Discord

Every UFA team is better when it can play with a consistent roster. The Summit has been without Jonathan Nethercutt and Quinn Finer for the majority of this season, and it shows. Zeke Thoreson, Denny Bechis, and Thomas Brewster are other players among the team leaders in +/- per game who have missed significant time this season. While the systems and structures the Summit plays with are strong, they rely on really good chemistry – especially on defense. With competing priorities of national team play (Nethercutt and Finer) and the college season (Thoreson), my understanding is that the team simply hasn’t had enough practice time and game repetition where all the key contributors can play together and truly be successful.

I will also say that the Summit has one of the toughest schedules in the league. The Summit has the most non-division games in the league, with Atlanta and Indianapolis as hosts and a doubleheader weekend in Minnesota and Madison. They went 1-3 in those games. Scheduling only one game against the Portland Nitro also diminished their chances of easy wins compared to other West teams. In short, Colorado had a tough challenge this year with a tough schedule and high expectations. The best version of this team is more than capable of rising to that challenge, but we just haven’t seen that version on the field often enough to make that happen.

UFA Week 11 Power Rankings