At the halfway point of the season, we asked if a new team would win the 2022 title. The thought at the time was we’d get a Whipsnakes vs. Chrome match up. Well the Chrome got blow torched in the first round by the perennial regular season losers and the Whipsnakes couldn’t outlast the eventual title winners.
Yes, we did get a new champion. Congratulations to the Waterdogs.
Ryan Brown Deployment
Yesterday, we mentioned that Schlosser’s injury might have paved the way for Ryan Brown to return to the line up.
The Waterdogs have been known to win a game short handed because of injury but it would appear that decided to dress Brown and rarely use him. Would you have believed the Waterdogs won the game without Brown registering a goal? A point? A single stat? How many times did they run him out of the midfield to set a pick for Sowers?
How did they get away with dressing a field player and barely using him?
Jack Hannah Delivers
At some point during the season we started to pay attention to Jack Hannah’s shooting numbers. Not only is he the most fearless rookie shooter, he might be the most Kobe Bryant shooter in the entire league. He finished the regular season fourth in shot attempts.
We wondered what version of Hannah would show up yesterday.
The first quarter was immensely bleak. Two of his shot attempts lead to Chaos goals. The first shot attempt came from an alley dodge that was easily gobbled by Riorden.
The second shot attempt was denied and the Chaos scored in settled offense.
Hannah turned things around quickly with an assist on the first goal of the second quarter that pulled the Waterdogs within one goal. He then scored during the third quarter onslaught to make the game 9-5 Waterdogs. After only tallying one assist in his first two post season games, Hannah delivered a two point performance including an efficient, by his standards, 1 for 5 shooting day, when it mattered most.
The Denver rookie capped of an absurd campaign with a PLL title. Who knows what is in store for the Ohio native in 2023.
Bandit Power Outage
Back in March, we predicted the NLL season would catch up to PLL athletes. As the Bandits playoff run dragged on, it was clear the Chaos would not have their full offensive complement. When the Chaos finished the regular season 2-8, how could one not wonder if there was anything left in the tank for their offensive stars? After all, there wasn’t an NLL season prior to last summer’s PLL season. Everyone is a year older. It takes longer for bodies to recovery.
Then, Blaze got hot at the right time and the Chaos waltzed into the finals yet again. Whether or not the Chaos NLL athletes were tired is irrelevant. Dillon Ward played in the NLL finals and he delivered. The leading scoring for the Chaos yesterday was long pole Matt Rees who scored two goals on two shots. He could have had two 2 point goals but his foot barely stepped on the line during his first goal.
Ryan Smith (not a Bandit) was scoreless.
Kyle Jackson (not a Bandit) was 1 for 6.
Mac O’Keefe (not a Bandit) was 1 for 4.
Chase Fraser was scoreless.
Dhane Smith was held to 1 assist and 5 shots.
They did receive positive contributions form Josh Byrne (2 goals on 6 shots). Chris Cloutier chipped in 1 goal on 4 shots and added an assist. Challen Rogers duplicated Cloutier’s performance. They probably needed more from Byrne. They definitely needed more from Smith.
Despite their chemistry, the Chaos offense struggled to score goals all season. In three playoff games, the Scorpions recorded 29 goals. In their final nine games, the Chaos managed to score double digit goals just twice.
The Waterdogs scored 41 playoff goals. Their lowest goal scoring output was 10 goals back on June 5th, the opening game of the season.
- Ryan Conrad was special yesterday. Middies shouldn’t have a 3 for 4 shooting line. He also had a 3 for 4 shooting day in the first round game including a 2 point goal. He was 7 for 11 in the playoffs.
- How about American Connor Kelly scoring twice off of leaners yesterday?
- Zach Currier, another NLL product, finished the game with zero points, five shots, and four ground balls. It would have been hard to predict a win Waterdogs win if you had that stat line prior to the game, but he was sensational off the wing.
- The Waterdogs have three players over 29 years old. McArdle is 30, Ward is 31, and DeNapoli is 33. Their oldest offensive midfielder is Currier at 28. Should they be the title favorites in 2023 if the core roster returns? Both McArdle and Ward are free agents this offseason.
- Sowers was named MVP, but we saw at least one tweet suggesting confusion of whether or not he was MVP of the game or the entire playoffs. If it was for the entire playoffs, they should have given it to McArdle. If it was for the title game, McArdle or Ward should have won. Given McArdle’s two fourth quarter assists, he would have been our choice for title game MVP. McArdle was 7 for 16 shooting during the playoffs to go along with four helpers. He also scored the game winner against the Whipsnakes.
- The Chaos defense allowed 3 goal quarters only three times during their playoff run. It happened twice against the Waterdogs. Three times over their final five quarters of the season.
- During those two title game quarters, the Chaos surrendered a 3 goal run and a 4 goal run.
- No idea how the Chaos go 2-8 in the regular season then end up a quarter away from repeating as champs. Hats off to their staff and players for buttoning things up and executing when it matters most.
Sadly, the 2022 campaign has come to a conclusion and we have one question left to be answered from our midseason post. Hopefully, the answer to that question is positive.