The Kronum League Jet Sets have their own version of the 1996 tune Mark Morrison tune “Return of the Mack” re-written as “Return of the Matt”. Parsons that is. The highly anticipated comeback has built hype levels surpassing that of  The Return of the King, Return of the Jedi, and Return of the McRib combined, and it lived up to its high expectations.

For those unfamiliar with the Kronum League’s version of Lenny Dykstra, sans the financial woes, Matt Parsons arrived onto the scene in 2010 and contributed immediately to a very talented, yet disorganized Jet Sets club. They had an elite scoring threat in ranger Jeff Regensburg, a tier 1 foot skill ranger in Nick DeLuca, and a plethora of above-average wedgebacks to boot. Still, games within reach turned into lop-sided losses as the Sets finished 2009 in the basement of the League. Enter Parsons. His hustle, ball-control, vision, and game management skills in addition to a deceptive left-handed shot, rocketed the Sets from a doormat to a playoff semi-finalist in 201o. In September 2011, Parsons suffered a broken collarbone in a pre-season match versus the Urban Legends and was forced to watch from the sidelines where he kept his team and his vocal chords in fine tune as the Jet Sets awaited his return.

In his first game back, Parsons picked up right where he left off, netting 22 points and dishing out 3 assists as the Sets edged out the Night Owls 120-119 in a tooth and nail game decided by a shot at the buzzer. Regensburg (21 points, 3 assists) seemed to benefit the most with the return of his favorite crosser, getting open early and connecting for 15 points in the first. Luck seemed to be on the Jets Sets side as well in the opening period, as both Mike Schaeffer and Nick DeLuca hit 4-point Crown Ring shots that were deflected by Night Owl wedgebacks. The Owls put up some offense of their own as Kyle McGrath (23 points, 6 assists) drilled a 4-point ring, a 4-point throw from the cross, and a 3-point penalty shot while ranger Phil Cavalcante (12 points, 4 assists) and wedgeback Greg Ashton (12 points, 10 saves) hit double-digits early with 10 points apiece in the 1st. Defense was hard to come by but the Sets’ Scott Reimer (8 saves) and the Owls’ Joe Tulskie (12, points 10 saves) made critical saves early and the Owls’ led 52-51 at the end of the opening period.

Now, the Modus Operandi,  of the 2011 Night Owls, in the words of Ray Finkle’s father, is that “the engine’s running but nobody’s behind the wheel”. The Owls stayed consistent with their second period carelessness and squandered their lead as Parsons, fellow crosser Steve Vandenberg (game-high 23 points), and wedgeback Zack Van Fosssen (17 points, 9 saves, 3 assists) when to work on the Owls defense nailing home 2s, 3s, and 4s throughout the period. Van Fossen added a highlight reel save on Cavalcante’s 2-point throw attempt in the final seconds of the 2nd. Owls’ speedy crosser Jay Klein (14 points, 7 assists) was a rare bright spot as he found the net with his patented drop-kick from the Cross Zone and wedgeback Derek Clouser (6 points, 8 saves) hit a few big “hook” throws from the Flex. The Sets took a 95-88 lead after two with the third period promising some real fireworks.

However, the final period turned out to be a showcase of defenses and superb wedgeback play as the Sets combined for 14 saves and the Owls stopping 16 shots. Vince Rota led the way for the Jets Sets D making 5 of his 9 saves in the 3rd. Both teams struggled to find open shooting lanes and looks at the net. Vandenberg took over in the frame burying a 4-point cross throw followed by a 3-point penalty shot. The Owls’ had no intention of going quietly as Chris VonTanhausen (6 assists) hit a big 4-point shot and Tulskie nailed a 4-point ring with Matt Sola (11 points, 8 saves) adding a booming 3-point penalty kick and with under 10 seconds left crosser Marc Stewart (8 points), known for his shooting accuracy and shot placement, found himself in the open field with a great look at the goal. As the arena collectively held its breath, Stewart released a high throw for the win but both Van Fossen and the goal crown combined for the game-saving stop and the Jets Sets flew away with a 120-119  victory.

The high-level play of Parsons no doubt played into the ‘W’, but it was the effect his presence had on the field for his team members that proved to be the biggest factor. Great players know how to make those around them better.

Parsons would be a great pitchman for Jet Blue Airlines, under the alias “Jet Glue”.