Training Camp Preview: Archers LC

By Austin Owens | May 25, 2022

The 2021 season had an all-too-familiar finish for the Archers. Through the first three weeks of the summer, they looked to be among the class of the league, going 3-0 and scoring 47 goals over that span – including an 18-goal explosion in the season opener against Atlas. However, an 0-2 Week 4 against Chrome and the Whipsnakes started a stretch run that saw Head Coach & GM Chris Bates’ squad go 2-4 heading into the playoffs.

As the third seed, the Archers met the Chaos in the Quarterfinals in Salt Lake City. As the underdogs in 2020, Chaos had bounced the Archers from the Championship Series in the semis. 2021 offered a chance at a measure of revenge. 

It was a tough day at the office for the team, who won just 33 percent of their draws while shooting just 24 percent. it would be the same outcome for the second consecutive summer. Six-point outings from Dhane Smith and Kyle Jackson lifted Chaos to the semi-finals and left the Archers short of the championship aspirations for the third straight year.

2022 offers another chance for the Archers to make a run at the title, and that journey begins on June 5, when they take on Chrome in Albany, NY. 

2022 Championship Odds

The Archers are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to their odds to take the title come September. According to DraftKings, they sit tied for the third-best odds at +550 with the Waterdogs, Redwoods, and Whipsnakes. 

Off-season transactions

Additions: Brandon Slade (Player Pool), Jack Jasinski (Player Pool), Matt Moore (College Draft), Brett Dobson (College Draft), Justin Inacio (College Draft), Jon Robbins (College Draft), Ryan Aughavin (College Draft), Frankie Labetti (Player Pool), Will Jones (Player Pool), Marc O’Rourke (Player Pool), Ted Sullivan (Player Pool), Connor DeSimone (Player Pool), Bobby Abshire (Player Pool), Ryan Blume (Player Pool), Chris Merle (Player Pool)

Departures: Drew Adams (Retirement), Stephen Kelly (Trade to Cannons), Jackson Place (Retirement), Jack Rapine (Player Pool), Austin Sims (Player Pool)

Chris Bates’ strategy last off-season was to get bigger and meaner on the back end. He was able to do that with the additions of Graeme Hossack and Warren Jeffrey as close defenders. 

This time around, there wasn’t much that the Archers needed to do to take the next step, aside from help at the stripe. They had 2021 award winners in Grant Ament and Hossack as well as finalists in Tom Schreiber, Adam Ghitelman, Scott Ratliff, and Latrell Harris. They have stars at every position. So what do you do with a team as good as the Archers? Make them deeper. 

As a result of Chrome taking Logan Wisnauskas first overall, the Archers were able to land Virginia standout Matt Moore with the fourth overall selection. They followed that up by snagging goaltender Brett Dobson at 12 and face-off specialist Justin Inacio at 18. 

Moore is another Swiss-Army knife on offense. He can play in that attack core alongside Grant Ament or he could just as easily run out of the box alongside the likes of Schreiber, Ambler, Fields, and Leclaire. 

Dobson and Inacio, a pair of Canadian additions who were among the best in the NCAA at their respective positions this season, were much needed adds through the draft. With the retirement of Drew Adams, they needed a shot stopped behind Ghitelman. 

The Archers were also near the bottom of the league in face-off percentage and moved Stephen Kelly to the Cannons ahead of the draft. Inacio was considered one of the top draw men available in this year's class, and the Ohio State product should help boost the team’s efficiency at the stripe this summer.

Fourth-round selections Jon Robbins and Ryan Aughavin also help out the depth and will be able to give Bates and Co. added options for the future. 

The Archers nailed the draft, adding multiple bodies at specialty positions to bolster their chances this season. 

MVP Candidate: Tom Schreiber

We’ve seen how pivotal strong midfield play has been to the success of teams in the last two seasons. Schreiber is still one of the best players on the planet, and the veteran could once again be in for a big year while anchoring the top of the Archers’ offense. 

With 27 points last year, Schreiber finished top-10 in scoring, however, if you go back to 2019, he finished second behind only Matt Rambo with 37 points in 10 games. 

The Archers are at their best when No. 26 is assertive from up top. His ability to separate from defenders and create room for shots or passing lanes creates so many different opportunities for the team to score. You can’t fully focus on Schreiber dodging down the alleys because of the spot-up shot threats that the likes of Will Manny, Marcus Holman, Tre Leclaire, and Ryan Ambler pose. But give him time with his hands free and it’s a goal nearly every time. 

The dynamic that Schreiber could pose opposite Grant Ament at X is akin to that of Myles Jones and Rob Pannell with the Redwoods last year. Pannell openly talked about becoming an off-ball finisher more than any time in his career – and how much he enjoyed working off-ball – with Jones initiating more from up top and setting up teammates. 

In the past two years, the Archers found it tough to beat Chaos when they decided not to slide defensively. Jack Rowlett’s performances against Ament, in particular, have been highlighted during those playoff showdowns. 

Schreiber is still world class, and if he becomes more ball dominant this summer, that will take some of the pressure off and open up his teammates for scoring opportunities. I’m not sure that we saw Schreiber at top form last summer, and that’s a scary thought for how great he was in 2021.

Camp Battle to Watch: Adam Ghitelman vs. Brett Dobson

Adam Ghitelman took firm hold of the Archers’ crease last summer after splitting time with Drew Adams in previous years. 

The 33-year-old finished tops in the league in both scores-against average (10.3) and save percentage (62%) to earn a spot as an Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year Award finalist alongside Blaze Riorden and Dillon Ward. 

After the retirement of Drew Adams, the Archers needed to get another goaltender this off-season.

Enter Brett Dobson.

The Oshawa, Ontario native was a star for the Bonnies this year, as he led the NCAA in saves (252 in 15 games) while also finishing second in the nation in saves per game (16.80). 

Dobson is also already playing in net for Team Canada at just 22 years old, and comparisons to Dillon Ward have already started. 

Dobson is an individual that is brimming with all the potential in the world, and he could very well become the Archers’ starter in the near future if he lives up to the hype that he’s built.

This camp battle isn’t so much about who will win the starting job. Barring a massive showing from Dobson, we will likely see Ghitelman as the game-one starter – he’s earned that with his performances last season. But if Dobson shows well, that could earn him some game time in his rookie campaign. If there’s one team you want to be taking shots from to get acclimated to the pro game, it’s the Archers.