Training Camp Preview: Cannons LC

By Sarah Griffin | May 31, 2022

In the Cannons’ first year in the PLL since the merger with the MLL, they ended the regular season 3-6 and snuck into the playoffs with the seventh seed after a win over the Chrome in the last game of the regular season. 

Ultimately they fell short with a first round exit to the Atlas in a 13-9 loss in the quarterfinals. All things considered though, especially in their freshman year as an expansion team, the Cannons left a lot to be excited about. 

Star attackman and tied for the league’s leading goal scorer last season, Lyle Thompson was injured for most of the season and essentially playing on one leg. Now as the Cannons prepare for the 2022 season, they have a fully healthy Thompson back alongside a much different roster than last year.

Looking to make a name for themselves in the league in their sophomore season, the Cannons’ journey begins on June 5th at 1 PM ET against the Waterdogs.

2022 Championship Odds

According to DraftKings, the Cannons are tied for the fourth and last-best odds with the Chrome to win the championship slated at +1000.

Off-season transactions

Additions: Asher Nolting (College Draft), Bubba Fairman (College Draft), Bryan Mcintosh (College Draft), Colin Kirst (College Draft), Jake Froccaro (Trade with Chaos), Stephen Kelly (Trade with Archers), Ryan Tierney (Trade with Whipsnakes), Drake Porter (Player Pool), Adam Charlambides (Player Pool), Brendan Bomberry (Player Pool), Alex Woodall (Player Pool), Dalton Sulver (Player Pool), Matt Rahill (Player Pool), John Piatelli (Player Pool)

Departures: Paul Rabil (Retirement), Connor Buczek (Retirement), Brendan Fowler (Player Pool), Jacob Stover (Player Pool), Sam Duggan (Player Pool)

Head coach Sean Quirk was without a doubt the most active coach and general manager of the eight clubs prior to the college draft this offseason. 

Similar to Andy Copelan following the Waterdogs’ inaugural season, Quirk’s seemed to find his core players on attack, defense, and in the midfield, and from there, built around those players.

Of course, a big part of that building comes in the midfield with the retirement of Paul Rabil. Rabil was the leading scorer for their midfield last season and ranked second in points behind Thompson. His absence leaves big shoes to fill in the midfield. 

The retirement of Connor Buczek leaves another gap in the midfield for the Cannons. While Buczek only played in four games last season, Quirk still needed to address the gaps in the roster.

The Cannons have their playmaker out of the box in Stephen Rehfuss. After a stellar rookie season, Rehfuss is the primary guy to carry the ball and spark the Cannons’ offense this year, especially with Rabil’s retirement. Whether it be by getting the ball to Thompson or now Asher Nolting, the Cannons’ second round pick drafted tenth overall in the college draft this year, when Rehfuss has the ball in his stick good things are bound to happen.

That being said, he can’t do it all on his own. With the retirement of Rabil and Buczek, Rehfuss will now draw the pole. It’s up to either Jake Froccaro or perhaps Ryan Tierney to step up against a short-stick.

Froccaro was perhaps one of the most exciting offseason additions for the Cannons. Quirk acquired the midfielder through a trade with the Chaos, sending attackman Andrew Kew to Andy Towers’ squad along with the third round pick in the 2023 draft. 

While no one can “replace” Rabil, Froccaro brings a lot to the table that makes him the perfect fit for this Cannons’ midfield. 

A two-way, two-handed midfielder, he’s got a heavy shot that’s especially lethal from up top. He plays the ball well in the sense he’ll make you pay if you give him the chance, but he’s also smart with it. He knows how to initiate offense and distribute it well, something that will come in handy given the options he has with the Cannons’ attack. 

The Cannons also added Bubba Fairman, the SSDM out of Maryland, with their eleventh overall pick in the draft. Fairman joins returning Zach Goodrich, Tyson Bell, Tim Edwards, and Jamie Trimboli in the midfield along with the new addition of Dalton Sulver as well. 

The faceoff was perhaps the biggest struggle for the Cannons last year, ranking last in the league at the stripe with a 36% faceoff percentage on the season. They tried out quite a few different guys at the stripe, but none seemed to find much success. 

This year, Quirk’s carrying three new guys on the roster to create a competition at the stripe between Stephen Kelly, Kevin Reisman, and Alex Woodall. 

The Cannons’ attack group raises the most questions coming into the 2022 season. Aside from their core returning attackmen in Thompson, Shayne Jackson, and Ryan Drenner, they’ve got a lot of new faces to try out at X. 

In addition to Nolting, Quirk also added Ryan Tierney, Brendan Bomberry, Adam Charlambides, and John Piatelli to attack. Currently, the Cannons have eleven attackmen listed on their training camp roster.

The Cannons’ defensive unit for the most part remains the same as last season. 

Goodrich and Bell are back in the midfield, as well as newcomer Sulver.

Reece Eddy returns as the LSM. 

Brodie Merrill, Holden Garlent, Jack Kielty, and Jake Pulver are all back with long poles on the backend. Third round draft pick Bryan Mcintosh out of Hofstra will join the group, as well as Matt Rahill who Quirk acquired from the player pool. 

Between the pipes, Nick Marrocco is back as the starting goaltender. To back up Marrocco, Quirk picked up Drake Porter from the player pool, as well as Colin Kirst in the draft to create a competition between the two for the backup role.

With so many new faces, the Cannons have maybe the most interesting training camp ahead of them.  

MVP Candidate: Lyle Thompson

Even with so many new faces, one thing’s for certain: Lyle Thompson is still Lyle Thompson, and that’s very good news for the Cannons.

Thompson tied with Whipsnakes’ Zed Williams in one-point goals last season with 22 and led the Cannons in points with 32. It was Thompson who led their offense to a top-three league best 33.1% scoring in settled possessions. 

Thompson’s a double-edged sword of a player. On the one hand, he can do it all himself if need be. He led the league in unassisted shooting last season with 56 unassisted shots and shooting 33.9%. No one is better at creating quality shots than him.

On the other hand, behind their primary playmaker in Rehfuss, Thompson had the second most assists on the Cannons last year. On 34 opportunities for an assist, he recorded a 35.3% finish percentage. So not only is he himself one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game, he elevates the game of those around him to make them dangerous as well. 

It’s tough to put into words the impact Thompson has on this offense. Keep in mind he put up league-high numbers last season while battling a leg injury. He was the foundation of their offense last year and even more so this year, especially with so many new faces and now fully healthy. 

He possesses the ability to command a game every time he’s on the field. If he can find the chemistry needed with all the new faces on the Cannons’ attack, the Boom squad’s offense has a good chance at taking the number one spot in offensive production in the league. 

Camp Battle to Watch: Narrowing down their attack group

That being said, with 11 names listed on attack currently for the Cannons, the big question is who will be down low with Thompson?

Jackson and Drenner bring proven experience to the group, but how Quirk plans to narrow his attack down beyond that is to be determined. 

Nolting is expected to have a big rookie season, but like anyone else he has to earn his role. He excelled at the collegiate level, but the margin from college to pro is significant and Nolting has yet to prove anything.

Canadians Brendan Bomberry and Adam Charlambides, both picked up from the player pool, have not played field since their college years. However both play box in addition to field, and the skills they’ve acquired from box could mesh very well with the likes of Thompson and Jackson.

Then we have Ryan Tierney. Tierney played six games last season with the Whipsnakes and while it was a quiet six games for him for the most part, he still holds that advantage of possessing experience playing in the league already. 

More likely than not, it’ll take a few weeks into the season for the Cannons to find what works best for them at X in real game time situations. For now though, training camp is a time for the new faces to prove themselves. 

The case for the Cannons to win the 2022 PLL Championship 

For the Cannons to contend for the Championship title this year, their two biggest focuses should be team chemistry and secondary scoring. 

By the end of the regular season last year it really seemed like the Cannons found their footing with one another on the field, but ultimately as is usually the case in a team’s inaugural year, it was a little too late. This time around, especially with so many new faces, it’s about finding that connection with one another as quick as possible. 

With chemistry comes production, and the only way the Cannons are making a significant playoff run is if they can generate scoring from more than just their top guys. Everyone’s going to need to step up in order for them to be successful.