The LaxDirt end of the season grades for the 2013 Charlotte Hounds.
The Charlotte Hounds began the 2013 season hoping to be in contention for a playoff berth. Throughout the year, the team showed improvement in a variety of areas, and used a combination of veteran leadership and rookies stepping up to accomplish that goal. In fact, the team was able to secure the first playoff position in franchise history in the second-to-last week of the season when they defeated the Hamilton Nationals. With the playoffs on the horizon, it’s time to reflect and give the team their end of season report card.
The offensive unit for the Hounds was a case of both knowing what they had and being surprised by the things they might not have been that sure of. Matt Danowski was a known commodity in this league, and the team used another impressive season from him to score the 3rd most goals in the league and lead the league in 2-point goals. While Danowski was someone who the Hounds knew would produce, they had several players come through who might not have had the same expectations. Ryan Young, Mike Sawyer, Jake Tripucka, and others stepped up throughout the year and showed that this unit has a very bright future. When you match up all of those players and still have stars like Peet Poillon produce at an impressive level, it is hard to think that this unit could have had a better season. Grade – A+
The Charlotte defense is a very confusing group. On one hand, you have a solid group of individual players led by All-Stars Brett Schmidt and Ryan Flanagan. Flanagan in particular was instrumental in matching up against the opposing team’s best scorer, and he had a great season as a shut down long pole defender. However, if you were to grade this group as a unit, there were some issues throughout the season. Too often opposing players had excellent looks at goal, and the focus seemed to waver at times. They allowed the 3rd most goals in the league, and while that is not entirely their fault, it is a point of concern for this team. Give them credit for bending and not breaking in some games, and because the team was able to make the playoffs, this grade is on a little bit of a curve. Grade – B-.
Let’s start with the cage, and get the negatives out of the way. Adam Ghitelman recorded the lowest save percentage of regular starting goalies. He also allowed the 2nd most 2-point goals in the league among the same group. While at times he showed that he was capable of making saves in key moments, he did not have the type of season that he was hoping for. This is not all his fault, as the defense seemed to break down to allow opportunities to form for other teams. However, if this team is going to take the next step, the play of Ghitelman has to improve. Grade – C+.
Tim Fallon arrived and took over a team that sported a 36.4% at the X in 2012. For the year, Fallon went 45.3% in the same category, and that is a huge improvement. He even was able to net 7 points on the year. The big thing about all this that some overlooked is that he did it throughout the season with his job security always in question. Geoff Snider came in the last 2 games of the regular season and showed improvement in the second game, but not enough to fully supplant Fallon. With the improvement that came from Tim, this was a pleasant surprise for a team that struggled at the same spot only a year ago. Grade – B.
The simple fact of the matter is pretty simple: Charlotte made the playoffs. That in itself is a huge accomplishment for this team. From the front office to the coaching staff down to the players, this run meant a lot to a team that was among the most active in the offseason. Gone are players like Bitter, Boltus, Miller, and Berger, and yet the team kept getting better behind a roster full of young talent. The future is bright in Charlotte, and there really isn’t much more the team could hope to accomplish as far as an end result to the season is concerned. Grade – A+.