WAVE NOTEBOOK: HEADING OUT EAST; NEW GUYS MAKING GRADE
MILWAUKEE (Feb. 5) — The Milwaukee Wave make the season's only swing through New York State this weekend, visiting fourth-place Syracuse at 6:30 p.m. Friday, then making the short drive for a 2 p.m. Sunday kickoff at Rochester.
Veteran forward and assistant coach Giuliano Oliviero, who has seen his share of road trips in a 19-year career, said one of the keys to making a trip like this successful is starting early in the week with preparation. Another plus this time around, he said, is the fact that the team leaves Thursday morning but doesn't play until Friday.
“For playing two games in three days, it definitely does give you an edge, helps your body at least,” Oliviero said, comparing to traveling on the day of a game.
Syracuse (9-6) seems secure in a playoffs spot despite being in fourth; the Silver Knights are four games ahead of Rochester (5-10). The Silver Knights made one trip to Milwaukee and lost 20-10 on New Year's Eve. Rochester's only game against the Wave was another comfortable decision for Milwaukee, 28-12 on Jan. 11 in Milwaukee (see highlights at right). Former Wave player Josh Rife coaches Rochester.
Both of this weekend's games can be seen through the YouTube channels of the respective home teams.
Not missing a beat: Head coach Keith Tozer is pleased with the way eight new players have been integrated to the 2013-14 squad, which has swept rival Baltimore in the regular season and leads the league by a half-game over the Blast with that tiebreaker in hand.
Of those eight, all but Victor Quiroz and Carlos Munoz are in their first professional indoor season.
“I've always said, it takes three years to learn the indoor game, and that's if you're playing 40 games a year,” Tozer said.
With schedules in recent years about half that, it can take even longer, especially to pick up Milwaukee's system. But Tozer said the collection of players — including Philip Suprise, Judson McKinney, Tony Walls, JC Banks, Andy Hackbarth and new goalkeeper Bryce Boyd — is among the best young groups he's had in a long time. Banks has 16 points, Walls and McKinney are part of the regular defensive rotation and Suprise has impressed in two outings. Munoz leads the team in scoring with 44 points and is fourth in the league.
School Day sellout: Next Thursday, the Wave hosts its second School Day Game of the season. These weekday exhibitions are a key element to the Making Waves program that sends players into schools to promote healthy lifestyle habits.
Thursday's 10:30 a.m. game is sold out; area schools will bring more than 9,000 students for the exhibition. The Wave face the Wisconsin State All-Stars, a collection of players representing the various club teams around the state.
This Week In Wave History: The Wave played their final two games in the old Milwaukee Auditorium on Feb. 6-7 1988, beating the Memphis Storm 7-5 and then 9-6 (single-point scoring). Saeed Bakhtiari and Dean Kelley were credited with the winning goals. The following year the Wave moved into the brand-new Bradley Center.