By Larry Snyder
St. Petersburg, Florida – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (0-1) and Tampa Bay Cannons (0-2) both seek their first American Ultimate Disc League victory Saturday, June 12, at the 31st Street Sports Complex in the Sunshine State. The Atlantic Division action gets underway at 6:05 p.m.
This meeting is the inaugural matchup for these two in either the regular season or playoffs. Both entered the AUDL in 2015, but it is the first time they have competed in the same division. The Thunderbirds are 43-25 all-time during the regular season, while the Cannons own a 33-35 record.
Pittsburgh lost their home opener last week 29-21 to the Boston Glory. Tampa Bay went down to the Philadelphia Phoenix 21-16 and the DC Breeze 24-10 in back-to-back road defeats.
Even though Boston harassed the T-birds, Max Sheppard, the 25-year-old cutter, with a pair of defenders, added vital numbers to the score sheet. Shep provided two goals, four assists, 22 of 25 completions, 109 throwing yards, and topped it off with 358 receiving yards.
Myles Cooper gave the fans a reason to rise to their feet in the bleachers. Thunderbirds general manager Andrew Gardner told me about Cooper, “Then you had Myles Cooper showing 521 fans, probably 700+ in the stadium in total if you count players and staff, that he can play some serious ultimate!”
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Thunderbird Players To Watch: Thomas Edmonds came up with two goals, four assists, and 49 completions against the Glory. CJ Colicchio led head coach Pat Hammonds’s offense with five goals. Kenny Furdella rendered two goals, three assists, and 340 throwing yards while newcomer Pete Zaccardi chipped in two goals, one assist, and a 100 percent completion rate.
Cannon Players To Watch: Bobby Ley returns to the Cigar City this weekend after spending 2019 with the Raleigh Flyers. He furnished 57 goals, 125 assists, and 26 blocks to the Tampa logbooks from 2016 to 2018. Andrew Roney also begins his 2021 campaign against Pittsburgh. From 2016 to 2019, he dispensed 54 goals and 179 assists to the box score. The return of this duo could give Cannon fans some thrills. Ryan Chard had five scores, while Sean Plunkett collected four over the opening two losses.
My Game Prediction: I think the Thunderbirds rise up to their first win of the season by downing the Cannons 22-20 on the road. Both teams need to cut down on the number of turnovers from last weekend.
Tune In: You can catch all the end zone completions by the Black and Gold online at AUDL.TV (subscription service).
Also don’t forget…