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Boston Cannons: 2024 Season Preview

2023 Regular Season Record: 7-3

Final Result: Lost to the Waterdogs in the Semifinals


Key Additions:

Pat Kavanagh, A

Garrett Epple, D

Bryce Young, D

Connor Kirst, M

Alexander Vardaro, M

Zac Tucci, FO


Key Departures:

Matt Rees, LSM

Stephen Kelly, FO (retired) 

Kyle Hartzell, LSM (retired)


The Boston Cannons were the biggest surprise and most improved team during the 2023 season. After two years with a combined 4-15 record in the league, the Cannons rose all the way to the 2 seed, had the highest scoring offense in league, and won a playoff game. They did this all without two-time MVP candidate Lyle Thompson, who chose to play for the Six Nations Chiefs for the 2023 season, winning MVP award and the championship. Marcus Holman tied for most points in a PLL regular season and the most goals in a PLL regular season, winning the Attackman of the Year award. His father Brian took home the Coach of the Year award as well. The Cannons also saw massive improvement from Colin Kirst, Asher Nolting, and Chris Aslanian and Ryan Drenner. Add in a strong season from the SSDM group and tremendous rookie campaigns from Matt Campbell and Ethan Rall and the “Boom Squad” had one of the most complete rosters in the league. They followed up the strong showing in the regular season by winning the 2024 Championship Series in February, going 3-2 and beating the Waterdogs 23-22 in overtime of the championship game. 


Head Coach and GM Brian Holman only added to that roster in the offseason. The Cannons made two of the marquee transactions of free agency; signing reigning Defenseman of the Year Garrett Epple from the Redwoods and trading for Bryce Young and Connor Kirst from the Whipsnakes. Epple and Young will help make a defense that ranked first in caused turnovers in the 2023 season. Kirst’s two-way ability fits perfectly with the Cannons midfield group, giving Holman a solid group of 5 SSDMs to choose from on gameday. The Cannons also signed Zac Tucci from the Waterdogs, who will play a pivotal role for the team under the new PLL faceoff rules. 


They got perhaps the steal of the draft at the 6th pick by selecting Pat Kavanagh out of Notre Dame. The younger brother of current Cannon Matt Kavanagh, Pat brings pure grit and toughness to the Cannons and he can slot in as a fourth attackman or a midfielder running out of the box. Pat is a great fit for the Cannons in the present and can help anchor the offense in the future as Marcus Holman and Matt get older. The Cannons also added more depth to their midfield group by picking Alexander Vardaro from Georgetown. The draft capped off a great offseason for the Cannons as they gear up to take another step towards the PLL Championship.


BEST CASE SCENARIO:


Although it may be difficult, the Cannons offense could be even better in 2024 than it was in 2023. They will have one of the most versatile rosters in the league, with the ability to play at a very fast pace, and get good shots from 5 to 15 yards. Even if Nolting and Holman don't put up the same numbers, the Cannons have enough depth and talent around them to still have the league highest scoring offense. Defensively, Epple, Young, and team captain Jack Kielty form a strong trio, with the ability to play complementary, elite close defense. Unlike the beginning of last season, Colin Kirst is the definitive starter for game 1 and if his play in the Championship Series was any indication, he could be up for Goalie of the Year again in 2024. It may take a few games to adjust to the new faceoff rules, but if Tucci can win enough possessions the Cannons offense should continue to put up double digit goals every week. After winning a playoff game in 2023, Holman and the Cannons are primed to make another postseason run and will be a championship contender all season. 


WORST CASE SCENARIO:

 

The Cannons were among a group of PLL teams to not employ a faceoff man for the majority of the 2023 season. Instead, Ethan Rall would take, and lose, draws, and then immediately try to create a turnover or scrap for a ground ball. This strategy helped the Cannons limit the time of possession for their opponents, helping their offense get more scoring opportunities as well. Based on the rules for 2024, Rall will be unable to take faceoffs and the responsibility will largely fall on Tucci. If he is unable to win the Cannons possessions, the offense will not have as many scoring chances and won’t be as effective. There is also a chance that Holman and Nolting are not nearly as efficient as they were last year and won’t have the same production. The Cannons took the league by storm in 2023, if a few things go wrong they may be more weathered in 2024.


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