LIVESTREAM: Finland: Maple Bowl rematch – Wasa Royals v. Helsinki Roosters, May 10, 6:30p (5:30p CET; 11:30a EST)

The Europe #3 Helsinki Roosters, defending Finnish champions, will take on their Maple Bowl XXXVIII opponents, the Wasa Royals in the opening game of the 2018 Maple League season in Finland.

The only team to defeat Helsinki in 2017 was the Royals by a score of 29-14. The Roosters gained their revenge in the Maple Bowl winning going away, 37-9.

Both teams have new head coaches for 2018 with Juha Hakala returning after spending a season coaching in Italy with the Lazio Marines. The Royals have signed Dan Grass who coached in the United States in 2017 with the Western KY Thoroughbreds.

Hakala guided the Roosters to five straight Finnish titles (2012-2016) before departing for Italy. The Roosters won Maple Bowl XXXVIII without him but expect another title run with Hakala back on the sideline.

However he will have to do it without the services of running back Jaycen Taylor, MVP of the 2017 Maple Bowl. Taylor has moved with his family to Belgium. Nevertheless, quarterback Brandon Connette has returned along with his brother, wide receiver Adam Connette. The Roosters passed their first big test of the season in a preseason game by beating one of the top teams in Europe, the Dacia Vienna Vikings in Vienna, 41-37. 

Grass has signed Isaac Fisher at quarterback. Fisher from McKendree University (NCAA Div. II) will have running back Justin Williams (Eastern Kentucky) in the backfield who also possesses excellent hands. Receivers Jerrah Young and Denny John (Team Sweden) are two key additions on offense along with French WR Jerome Valbon.

Defensively, Kurtis Ovesen (Marshall) and veteran Stacy Thomas will lead a tough secondary. Linebackers Walter Vasanoja and Steeven Tresfeld lead a front seven that needs to return to their performance of a year ago when they were the second leading defense in the league.

The Roosters have the advantage of having played two preseason games, both huge wins against quality opponents (Stockholm Mean Machines, Dacia Vienna Vikings) while Wasa has the advantage of surprise. No one has seen the “new” Wasa Royals perform.

Watch the game live here. Maple Bowl rematch – Wasa Royals v. Helsinki Roosters, May 10, 6:30p (5:30p CET; 11:30a EST)

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