PLL Notebook: Whipsnakes Subdue Chaos, Earn Spot in Championship Game


Whipsnakes defenseman Matt Dunn guards Chaos attackman Connor Fields during a first-round playoff game Saturday in Columbus.

Whipsnakes and Chaos each beat one another by a lone goal in the teams’ two matchups in the regular season, so you’d be hard pressed to find a person who predicted the blowout the Whips were able to pull off in the playoffs Saturday in Columbus.

Whipsnakes went on a 10-goal run, ending any hopes of an easy trip to the final for Chaos early in the second half in a 15-7 victory. The Whips advanced to the title bout in two weeks in Philadelphia with the victory.

“Really we just wanted to give them shots that Kyle Bernlohr wanted to see,” Whipsnakes defenseman Matt Dunn said on NBC Sports of the team’s defensive game plan. “With an offense like that, they’re going to get shots off with so much talent all across the board. But Kyle made some great saves to make us as a defense look better than we actually played.”

Bernlohr had 11 saves in limiting Chaos to nearly five goals fewer than its regular season average.

Joe Nardella, who has found tremendous success scoring out of faceoff wins, beat Chaos’ Blaze Riorden to make it 5-4 in the second quarter. The Whips never relinquished that lead, blanking Chaos 8-0 in the third quarter and keeping them scoreless for more than 18 minutes.

Mike Chanenchuk notched five points, including a pair of 2-point goals — no surprise considering he led the league in goals from beyond the arc in the regular season.

Chaos coach Andy Towers gave a rousing speech after the game, reminding his players they still have a shot at that ultimate goal.

Woods roll past Archers

If Chaos, the regular-season champion, still hopes to win a title in its first season, it will need to beat Redwoods next week in New York after the Woods rolled to a 16-12 win against Archers in the first game of the weekend.

Archers led 6-5 at halftime, but suffered a big loss at the end of the first quarter when Tom Schreiber took an awkward hit to the shoulder at midfield while moving toward the team’s attacking zone in transition. He got off a long shot as the clock wound down, but was forced to head to the locker room and did not return to the game.

The departure of the team’s top player eventually caught up with Archers, who were outscored 9-5 in the decisive third frame. Ryder Garnsey led Redwoods with five points, while Jules Heningburg had four a week after leaving the game early due to a hit to the head from Chrome’s Brett Queener.

With the loss, Archers dropped into the consolation bracket, the prize for which is next year’s No. 1 draft pick.

Buczek sets new PLL best

Connor Buczek set a new PLL high for points in a game, notching nine in Atlas’ 17-8 win over Chrome to advance in the consolation bracket. Talk about a nice homecoming for the Cincinnati native.

“I’m excited to hear that,” Buczek said on NBC Sports Gold when he was told of his feat, which included three 2-point goals and three assists out of the midfield. “But more than anything, it was a team effort. Nice to get a decisive win today.

“I was excited to come back and play in front of some friends and family. Always nice to be back in Ohio, but I’m more excited to get the win.”

Atlas went up 2-0 early on a Buczek bomb and stayed ahead the rest of the way to move right into the game that will determine next year’s top pick. The rest of the offense was rather balanced besides Buczek, with Eric Law notching three points and Kieran McCardle, Ryan Conrad, Noah Richard and Paul Rabil each contributing a pair.

Atlas has won three straight games and four of the last five.

Injury scare

Overshadowing all the play this weekend was a scary injury to Archers’ Jackson Place in the first game in Columbus. After losing his stick, the defenseman went to initiate contact with Redwoods’ Eddy Glazener in the fourth quarter, but inadvertently ran into Glazener’s shoulder with his head down and in an awkward position.

Place fell right to the ground after contact and was removed from the field on a stretcher. He was transported to a nearby hospital. While the initial incident looked very scary, the PLL announced the next day that Place had feeling in all of his extremities and was responding well to treatment. Later on Saturday, Place took to Instagram to update his situation and thank everyone for their support.

Play of the Week
Connor Buczek, M, Atlas

Buczek’s third goal, which set the PLL’s single-game scoring record, came from way out and clocked in at 109 mph.


Wes Berg notched a natural hat trick for Redwoods, scoring three goals in a row. … The Chaos bomb squad was notably shut down by Whipsnakes as the team failed to hit on its six attempts from long range. … Ryan Conrad became the 100th player to score a goal in the PLL when he put Atlas up 5-1 on Chrome in the later stages of the first quarter. … Greg Coholan made his PLL debut for Chrome and scored his first goal. Denver grad Alex Ready also debuted shortly in goal, making one save. … Four Archers players notched three points this week: Marcus Holman, Will Manny, Ryan Ambler and Scott Ratliff. … Greg Gurenlian won 59.2 percent of his faceoffs this week for Redwoods, putting him atop the league in the playoffs. … Connor Fields led Chaos with four points. Josh Byrne had three and Dhane Smith matched his scoring output from the entire regular season with two goals.

Up Next

The PLL heads back to New York, once again playing at Red Bull Arena, for the second weekend of the playoffs. Chaos and Redwoods battle for the chance to play Whipsnakes in the league’s first title bout at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while Archers and Chrome play for the chance to meet Atlas and earn the No. 1 pick at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold.

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