In our second to last team preview we take a look at the impressive run to the Championship Game of the Charlotte Hounds.
2013 Record: 7-7, lost in championship game
Key Losses: Peet Poillon, Owen Blye
Key Additions: Mike Gabel
2013 in Review:
Charlotte exceeded everyone’s expectations in 2013, pulling off one of the greatest upsets in league history by knocking off undefeated Denver in the first game of Championship Weekend. They also made the playoffs for the first time in their history by going .500 in the regular season, winning three of their last four.
Charlotte didn’t change much of anything in the offseason. They moved Peet Poillon for draft picks, but this is a very similar team to last year. Their offense will rely heavily on Matt Danowski – who will likely put up his fifth straight 40-point season – and Ryan Young, who took a big step last year.
Defensively, this team gets a year older, which is actually a good thing. Ryan Flanagan, Mason Poli and Brett Schmidt are all under-25 and lead a defense that oozes potential. Their 67% penalty killing should also improve, as the players have better chemistry with another season together under their belt.
However, one of the areas of concerns for the Hounds will be in net. Adam Ghitelman was the only starting netminder in the league to post a sub-.500 save percentage last season. The Boston native showed off his strengths in the playoffs, but he will have to be better this year if the Hounds want to end up back in the title game.
Meanwhile, the Hounds draft class was tremendous. The front office did a fantastic job trading for high picks and stocking up for the future. Arguably the biggest selection for Charlotte was their fourth pick of the draft, No. 14 overall Brendan Fowler. The Duke senior is probably the best FOGO in the country and would help tremendously should he sign with the Hounds.
This team will be in the playoff mix at the end of the season. They had seven of the top 24 picks in the 2014 draft, and some of those players would greatly help the midseason playoff push. What’s even scarier is the Hounds will be even better in 2015, but they need to keep their eye on the prize this season.
What the Experts Say:
Laxworm – Mike Sportini:
The Hounds came into their own at the end of the 2013 season with an emotional and exciting win over undefeated Denver to earn a ticket to the Sunday MLL Championship game. The draft choices of the Hounds reunited a lethal combination of attacks with Sawyer and Ward to play alongside one of the league’s best attack men Matt Danowski sprinkle in a rookie Josh Dionne, should he sign a contract after his collegiate career is done, and a much improved Ryan Young , you now have a group sure to give any defense fits. We will see the Hounds play with a lot of confidence this year! I would look to Coach Cerino’s Charlotte Hounds getting out to a fast start. We might see them in Georgia.
LaxDirt.com – Tim Thomas:
Always active. Wade Leaphart and company are always trying to move chips and pieces around to find the perfect balance. They did that again this off season. This team has a ton of talent coming in to camp and will have to make some tough decisions. I expect them to be a contender again this season but someone will have to fill the void in production left in Poillon's absence.
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Check back tomorrow as we preview the Chesapeake Bayhawks