2022-2023 Outlook: Panther City Lacrosse Club

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a division of the Edge of Philly Sports network

2021-2022 Record: 7-11; 5th place West Division; missed playoffs

New Faces

F Jonathan Donville, F Cole Pickup, F Evan Messenger, F Mathieu Gautier, D Tyler Burton, T Tony Malcom, D Ryan Fournier, D Brooker Muir, D Adam Perroni

Key Losses

OC Dan Teat, F Randy Staats, F Taite Cattoni, F Jack Hannah, D Travis Cornwall

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Year Two of pro lacrosse in Fort Worth, Texas gets underway with plenty of promise. In its inaugural season, the Panther City Lacrosse Club started out slow: 1-8, to be exact. But the second half of the year saw the team begin to buy into the system and culture Head Coach Tracey Kelusky was building. That fueled a 6-3 finish that turned the heads of the community, as Panther City nearly made the playoffs. With a solid core group and fan interest building in the Southwest U.S., we take a look at Panther City as they enter training camp.

Offense

The offensive unit welcomes 2021 #1 overall draft pick Jonathan Donville to the fold. He joins a cast that put together an impressive 5-game win streak late last season, nearly culminating in a playoff berth. This despite ranking 11th overall in goals scored during the 2021-2022 season. On the right side, Donville is joined by Rookie of the Year finalist Patrick Dodds, Phil Caputo, Cam Milligan, and Mike Triolo. 2021 draftee Ronan Jacoby and free agent signings Austin Murphy and Spencer Milne will also be competing for roster spots.

On the left side, young snipers Will Malcom and Nathan Grenon are back, along with midseason acquisition Dean Fairall. Expect additional competition from free agent signings Cole Pickup (coming off an impressive summer with the WLA Victoria Shamrocks), Evan Messenger, and 2022 draftee Mathieu Gautier, who almost singlehandedly brought the province of Alberta their first ever Minto Cup this year. It should also be noted that top 2022 draft pick Jason Knox will be finishing up his college eligibility this year – he is projected to debut in 2023-2024.

Additionally, the offensive unit will be working under a new coordinator. Kyle Goundrey replaces Dan Teat on the staff. Ultimately, the hope is that the unit’s chemistry will continue to build from last year, with the addition of Donville and others resulting in a vast improvement in scoring efficiency.

Defense

Panther City’s defense ranked 3rd overall in Loose Balls, and a surprising 7th on the Penalty Kill (55.8%), but they also ranked 11th in Caused Turnovers last year. The lone departure (to Las Vegas in free agency) is Travis Cornwall, who scored the first goal in franchise history. Returnees include captain Chad Cummings, 2022 PLL Champion Liam Byrnes, Matt Hossack, Connor Sellars, and Ryan McLean. Jeremy Thompson returns as the primary faceoff specialist, along with Patrick Foley. Liam Patten, Josh Medeiros, Dylan Hutchison and Jordan Trottier provide additional transitional support.

Panther City apparently wasn’t content with just retaining nearly all of last year’s unit. More defensive prospects were brought in via free agency. Tyler Burton, Ryan Fournier, Tony Malcom, Brooker Muir, and Adam Perroni all have previous NLL experience, and all are capable of making the roster. The addition of Malcom alone makes an already quick transition unit that much faster. This could lead to more success in capitalizing on oppositional mistakes. The anticipated competition on the back end figures to be one of the fiercest among all training camps this season.

The only question mark is the recent move of backup goaltender Kevin Orleman to the PUP List. Cam MacLeod will compete with Kaleb Martin and Darius Miller to fill the role behind starter Nick Damude.

Check out the All Lacrosse Live podcast every Sunday night at 9 pm (ET)

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.

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