by Larry Snyder
Grand Rapids, MI – After an early bye week, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (1-0-0) head to the Great Lakes State for the home and season opener of the Detroit Mechanix at Grand Rapids Christian High School. These two American Ultimate Disc League Central Division foes come together at 5:00 p.m. EDT.
Everyone in the Steel City remembers the late Franco Harris making the “Immaculate Reception” in December 1972 against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional playoffs. I predict the duo of Jon Mast to Max Sheppard, in the last seconds of the Black and Gold home opener at Highmark Stadium against the Madison Radicals Saturday, April 29, 2023, will be the stuff of legend.
Taking a quick toss from Noah Celuch at mid-field, Mast launched a long pass for the end zone that saw three Radical players go up for the disc. The reliable Sheppard timed it perfectly and came down with it for the T-birds’ walk-off score at the buzzer. The goal came after a Thomas Coolidge throwaway off the fingertips of Victor Luo for Madison.
These two squads were tied at 10-10 at the half, and both added five points to the box score in the third quarter. Detroit and Pittsburgh were even in blocks with eight apiece and in turnovers with 15 each. To begin the season this way gave all the fans on the South Side plenty to stand and cheer about during the evening.
Sheppard delivered five goals and five assists in the T-birds’ victory, while defender Anson Reppermund supplied three scores. Working to keep the disc moving downfield, Celuch owned four assists, and Mast had three helpers. This duo also had a trio of hockey assists apiece. Clint McSherry helped the attack with four hockey assists, one goal, and two assists.
My crucial stat was the Thunderbird’s red zone conversion percentage, as they connected on 10 out of 10 for a 100 percent advantage. Detroit finished the night at 75 percent by going 12 of 16.
Reppermund told Daniel Cohen on the AUDL web page, “After all the trash talk directed at us by Detroit, we’re excited to get to play them this weekend. I hope and believe we can win by six or more.”
The AUDL roster report, on Friday, May 12, shows T-bird Andrew Thompson as questionable for the meet. Listed as out for Saturday are Reid Duncan, John McMonigal, Wyatt Brooks, Kenny Furdella, Pete Zaccardi, Kunwoo Shin, Matthew Montera, Michael Dillard, and Sam VanDusen.
LOOKING BACK: A Fan Experience at a Thunderbirds Home Game
From 2023 AUDL YouTube: Madison Radicals at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds – Full Game Highlights For 04/29/2023
Detroit owner and head coach Brent Steepe hopes to end the team losing streak, which goes back to 2017, on Saturday. The Men from the Motor City assembled 214 goals in 2022 while allowing the opposition to put up 325 scores.
Joseph Cubitt remains the heart of the Detroit lineup claiming 12 goals, 45 assists, and nine blocks last season. Jack Havey contributed 33 goals and 19 assists, while Jake Kenniv chipped in five blocks.
Checking in again with the AUDL roster report, Detroit’s Joel Willison and Bryan Walsh are questionable for the contest. Chris Walsh, Makachi Marshall, and Brenden Gessner are out of action.
Broadcast: This road matchup is obtainable on the subscription streaming service AUDL.tv.
Weather: The Weather Channel has the current forecast for everyone here on the web.
NEXT UP: The Black and Gold visit the city of Saint Paul to collide with the Minnesota Wind Chill (1-0-0) Saturday, May 20, at Sea Foam Stadium. The opening pull is 6:00 p.m. CDT.