18-Minute Shutout Fuels Atlas Comeback
By Jerome Taylor | Jul 26, 2020
What looked like it was going to be the franchise’s first win turned into the franchise’s first frustration for the Waterdogs.
Goalie Jack Concannon led Atlas to an impressive game-ending, 18-minute spell where they kept Waterdogs off the scoreboard to win 11-10 on Sunday afternoon.
Things started well for the Waterdogs, they looked nothing like an expansion team in the first half. Their offense relied on former Whipsnakes’ to start their franchise’s history on the right foot.
Ryan Drenner etched himself in Waterdogs’ history scoring the team’s first goal.
The other former Whipsnakes (Drew Snider and Connor Kelly) followed Drenner’s lead and the Waterdogs rode the trio to an early 6-2 lead.
The Waterdogs relied on another familiar grouping at the stripe; as Jake Withers was able to win 75% of his first half-half face-offs with help from his fellow Canadian national team members on the wings.
However, Trevor Baptiste found his form and got into a rhythm against Drew Simoneau at the stripe in the second quarter for Atlas, winning 6-8 matchups against him by halftime.
Atlas rode those wins at the faceoff dot into the offensive zone where Rob Pannell got in sync with his new team, specifically with Eric Law who he found twice for goals. Law also was hot individually, scoring two more unassisted goals to become the league’s leading goal scorer by halftime (4).
Atlas rode the second-quarter run to get the game within two, trailing 8-6, when the teams went to the locker rooms for the first time.
The stars of the third quarter were the guys between the pipes. After the Waterdogs were able to get a couple of early insurance goals to start the third, Jack Concannon began to see the shots better, evidenced by this beauty:
Concannon may have been a star during the quarter but the Waterdogs’ Charlie Cipriano absolutely stole the show with 6 (!) of his 17 saves coming in third.
Concannon may have let three goals past him early in the third, but after that, he was the most important player on the field. No Waterdogs player got any celebration time after the 6:34 mark in the third quarter. Atlas’ defense and their keeper held the Waterdogs scoreless for the final 18 minutes.
Atlas used their defense to propel their comeback. The transition game was fed by clean saves and caused turnovers.
The offense took advantage of the defensive pressure putting the final touches on a masterful defensive half. Chris Cloutier found the back of the net twice in the fourth once off a feed from Craig Chick and a second and more important time around the two-minute mark.
For Atlas, the team found out it has some fight in them. After falling behind by four in the second half they relied on their defense and goalie to settle down. On the offensive end, Rob Pannell may not have put multiple balls in the net, but his teammates were able to because of him. This dynamic will bode well for Atlas moving forward.
The Waterdogs could’ve asked for a better start to their team’s story. The ‘Dogs were able to dominate on offense and their faceoff unit proved that they’re going to be a problem for the rest of the league. Finishing the game was a struggle and they’re going to have to identify a player they can count on when the going gets tough. One thing is certain in the PLL: no lead is safe, and going 18 minutes without a goal is the surest way to lose one.