Top takeaways as Atlas cruise to Homecoming win over Cannons

By Lauren Merola and Sarah Griffin | Jun 1, 2024

Jeff Teat’s double-digit scoring explosion and a stellar PLL debut from No. 2 overall pick Connor Shellenberger powered the New York Atlas to a 19-12 win over the Boston Cannons on Saturday.

Here were our beat writers’ top takeaways from the Opening Weekend matchup in Albany, N.Y.:

Lauren Merola: The Virginia connection translates perfectly to the PLL

Teat, Shellenberger and Xander Dickson held it down on attack for the Atlas in Week 1. While that line is subject to change once undrafted rookie Payton Cormier and Eric Law are cleared to play, former Virginia standouts Dickson and Shellenberger proved that past playing time together is no match for long poles (or short ones, for that matter).

Dickson finished with four points (3G, 1A), Shellenberger notched eight (3G, 5A) and Teat – who was in desperate need of a paired facilitator down low after scoring a PLL career-low 11 goals last season – had 11 (!!!) points (4G, 7A), the highest single-game total by any player since 2019.

Shellenberger's eight points were tied for the most ever by a rookie in his professional debut.

And the Cavalier command didn't end there: Dox Aitken, who played Shellenberger and Dickson in college, added two goals on 50% shooting and nabbed four ground balls in his return from the holdout list.

One other important note: Tim Troutner got the start and Liam Entenmann did not see any time, but odds are that was always head coach and general manager Mike Pressler’s plan in goal. Entenmann didn’t face any serious shots in his only training camp practice Friday. I expect him to be eased into league play.

“Liam hasn’t slept in five days,” Pressler said of the fifth overall draft pick, who won a national championship with Notre Dame on Monday and then joined Shellenberger for the Tewaaraton Award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. 

Troutner backed up Pressler’s faith in his offseason signing, too, saving 13 shots at a 54.2% clip. Pressler said Troutner will start again Sunday, calling him and Entenmann New York's "1 and 1A" in net. 

Up next for New York: vs. Maryland Whipsnakes (Sunday, June 2, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Sarah Griffin: Faceoff proves costly for Cannons in season-opening loss

It wasn’t the prettiest day between the pipes for Colin Kirst, but it certainly doesn’t help that he faced 34 shots on goal. 

The Cannons’ defense was forced to make some last-minute adjustments with Jack Kielty out for the season and Jake Pulver ruled out Saturday morning with a right abductor injury. But ultimately, despite the 19-12 score, defense was not the biggest issue for the Cannons.

The glaring problem for Boston came down to the stripe. Boston’s faceoff approach was a hot topic coming into training camp, and Saturday showcased why. The Cannons went 7-for-32 on faceoffs, giving a well-connected Atlas offense plenty of opportunities and leaving little room for error for Kirst and the defense. 

With Zac Tucci left off the 19-man roster, it was faceoff by committee for the Cannons. Zach Goodrich, Connor Kirst, Pat Aslanian and Bubba Fairman all faced off with, as expected, very little success against Trevor Baptiste

It was a quiet debut for sixth overall pick Pat Kavanagh. The 2024 Tewaaraton Award winner tallied just one point: an assist on Matt Campbell’s two-point goal in the first quarter.

Up next for Boston: vs. Maryland Whipsnakes (Sunday, June 8, 5 p.m. ET)