WAVE NOTEBOOK: BENNETT ON A TEAR; PLAYOFF PICTURE BECOMING CLEARER
MILWAUKEE (Feb. 13) — It was merely an exhibition game, but even in Thursday's School Day Game intrasquad, Ian Bennett just couldn't stop scoring for the Milwaukee Wave.
He netted three goals in Thursday's exhibition, the only three for the Gray team as the Red team won 16-6. The performance was much like his regular-season play, where he has moved into a tie for the Major Indoor Soccer League scoring lead.
Bennett has 55 points, with four 3-pointers, a league-high 19 2-pointers and five assists. He started the season with five goals in an 23-21 overtime victory over Missouri. He also bagged four against Rochester on Feb. 9, three against Syracuse on Dec. 31, and three against St. Louis on Jan. 25.
His production has grown steadily over his last three seasons in Milwaukee, from 54 points in 24 games two years ago to 62 in 26 last year and now, 55 in just 15 appearances.
The charismatic native of Hamilton, Ontario said his increased production is linked to increased responsibility. He's now on the power play team, the restart team and the man-down team.
“There's more pressure when you get that responsibility, but I enjoy that,” Bennett said.
He's always been known for speed but said it's important to him to improve every facet of the game. On Sunday in Rochester he scored a variety of ways — on a long 3-pointer, on a pretty, three-pass restart and even redirecting a pass to score against the sixth attacker.
Milwaukee hasn't had a league scoring leader since Greg Howes had 130 points in 28 games in 2007-08.
MISL playoff picture: The MISL's playoff teams are nearly set, and there are essentially two mini-races for playoff seeding as the season's final three weekends approach.
Milwaukee (13-2) and Baltimore (13-3) are playing for the No. 1 seed. The Wave beat Baltimore twice early in the season, their only two regular-season meetings, so Baltimore has to essentially make up two games on the Wave to grab the top spot. The Blast were impressive last weekend, beating St. Louis and Missouri on the road, crushing the Comets 18-4.
Missouri (9-6) and Syracuse (9-7) are playing for the third and fourth spot. Rochester (5-11) is mathematically alive but would need to win out and have the Silver Knights lose out, while also beating Syracuse twice by large margins. Missouri swept the season series with Rochester and owns the tiebreaker.
The Wave has never lost to Syracuse, while Missouri has given them fits this season, handing the Wave their only two losses.
In the semifinals, the No. 1 seed plays No. 4 and No. 2 meets No. 3 in a two-game series. The winners meet in another two-game series to decide the title, won last year by Baltimore.
Busy times: Much is happening in the Wave's world. The team just announced its first home playoff date, March 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are half-price, dropping the best seats to just $7, in honor of the team's drive for its seventh championship. Summer camps are also on the horizon, and anyone who pays in full for a full-day or overnight camp before the end of February receives four tickets to that playoff game.
And the final quarter of the regular season begins Sunday at 2 p.m. with a home game against Pennsylvania. The Roar are the league's bottom-dweller, with just one victory in 14 matches and only 80 points scored. They have been shut out twice and held to two points one other time.
This Week In Wave History: Michael King scored the game-winning goal in a 10-7 win over Wichita on Feb. 13. 1997, and followed up with another game-winning goal on Feb. 16 in a 19-16 triumph over the Harrisburg Heat. King also was credited with the game-winner in the Wave's next two games, on his way to a franchise-record 185 points.