Kells Closes the Door on the Roughnecks Giving Vegas Win No. Four 2/23/23

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Shawn Palmer, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit:  S. Rosenthal

The Calgary Roughnecks (7-4) visited the Vegas Desert Dogs (4-5) on Friday night February 23, 2023 for their first ever matchup.  Vegas comes in winning two games in a row while Calgary has won four in a row.  Vegas jumped out to a 6 -1 lead in the first quarter only to see if disappear in the second when Calgary tied it up at seven at half time.  The Desert Dogs defense and goaltending then shut down the Roughnecks in the second half outscoring the Roughnecks 4 – 2 to come away with their third win in a row.    Final Score:  Desert Dogs 11—Roughnecks 9.

The Desert Dogs opened up the scoring with Rob Hellyer (1G, 3A) passing to Marshal King(1G) and his quick bounce shot beat Christian Del Bianco (29 saves) to the far side for the early 1 – 0 lead.  A few minutes later Jack Hannah (2G, 3A) made a swim move by his defender and his high to low shot went glove side to double the lead to 2 – 0.  The Roughnecks would finally get on the board at the 7:31 mark in transition.  Shane Simpson (3G, 1A) got the long breakaway pass from Zach Currier (1A), and he beat Landon Kells (32 saves) to the stick side and it was 2 – 1 Vegas.  But the Dogs would respond quickly with 6:41 to go.   John Wagner (2G) came down in transition and his bounce shot went to the far bottom corner and it was 3 – 1 Vegas.  This started a four-goal run for the home squad.  Hannah would get his second of the period when he used a stutter step to get space from his defender and fired an overhand shot  short side putting the Dogs up by three 4 – 1.   Zack Greer (2G, 2A) was next up when he pushed off of his defender and fired an over hand shot over the shoulder of Del Bianco with 3:57 on the ticker to make it 5 – 1.  Vegas had three opportunities to pick up rebounds and continue on offense and with a tired defense for Calgary, Greer was able to fire a side arm shot stick side with 38 seconds on the timer for back-to-back tallies  and that made it 6 – 1 for Vegas at the end of the first.  The shots at the end of the first quarter were: Vegas 14—Calgary 9.

Calgary opened the scoring early in the second quarter.  While in transition Simpson went in on a breakaway and beat Kells to the top corner 33 seconds in to make it 6 – 2.  Simpson would notch his hat trick off a pass from Jesse King (2G, 2A) in the middle and his over hand shot beat Kells to the short side to make it 6 – 3.  Vegas would respond right back about 90 seconds later. Jon Phillips (2G, 1A) picked up a loose ball in front and his back handed twister shot beat Del Bianco over the shoulder for the only tally in the frame for the Dogs to make it 7 – 3.  Something finally clicked for the Roughnecks about four minutes into the second and they’d go on a four-goal run of their own.   Josh Currier (3G, 1A) got it started and would score for Calgary with a laser from way outside to beat Kells over the shoulder to make it 7 – 4.  They’d get their next 40 seconds later.  Tanner Cook (1G, 2A) took a low-to-low shot from outside that went short side and the gap was closed to two 7 – 5 for Vegas.  Next to score on the run was Jesse King’s with a beautiful high-to-high shot over the shoulder and fans were staring at a one-goal game 7 – 6 for Vegas.  The last tally in the half was a highlight reel goal from J. Currier. He got the ball on the left side of the crease took two steps behind the net and dove towards the left post and beat Kells to the right post to put it in the empty side tying the game 7-7 at end of the first half.  The shots on goal at the end of two were: Vegas 25—Calgary 22.

Photo Credit: S. Rosenthal

Vegas would own the third tallying the only two goals. They’d  open the scoring at 3:47 while on the power play and Hellyer would fire a cross floor pass to Sam Firth (1G, 1A) and his quick stick shot went short side to give the Desert Dogs back the lead at 8 – 7.  Jesse King was awarded a penalty shot halfway through the quarter, went in threw three fakes and tried to go five-hole but Kells made the stop to keep it 8 – 7 for Vegas.  The other Dogs marker was notched while on transition with 6:42 in the frame.  Wagner ran the whole floor,  beat his defender to the front of the net and his bounce shot beat Del Bianco to the far side giving Vegas back a two-goal lead 9 – 7.  From this point on both defenses shut down the opposing offenses in the third.  The shots on goal at the end of the quarter were: Vegas 34—Calgary 30.

The Roughnecks would start the scoring in the fourth.  J. Currier could notch his hat-trick when he fired an overhand shot short side cutting the Vegas lead to 9 – 8.  The Dogs would answer back in transition when Phillips grabbed a rebound in front and deposited it behind Del Bianco to make it 10 – 8.  With less than 10 minutes left in the fourth Greer would make a nice pass to Hellyer cutting to the net and his shot went over the shoulder giving Vegas a three-goal lead 11 – 8.  But Calgary wasn’t done and would answer back when J. King found himself open in front of the net and was able to beat Kells to the stick side with 8:19 to go and it was 11 – 9 for Vegas.  The final eight minutes in the game saw both teams unable to find the back of the net and the score would stand.  The shots at the end of the game were: Vegas 46–Calgary 41.  The Vegas Desert Dogs would upset the Calgary Roughnecks 11 – 9

The Three Stars of the game were:
Landon Kells – Las Vegas Desert Dogs: 32 saves
Jack Hannah – Las Vegas Desert Dogs:  2G, 3A
Shane Simpson—Calgary Roughnecks:  3G, 1A

Calgary Roughnecks—SOG 41; FO 10-25; Saves 35; Sv% .761%; PP 0-2
Las Vegas Desert Dogs—SOG 46; FO 15-25; Saves 35; Sv% .780%; PP 1-3


The Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-5) will play in the first ever NLL outdoor game on Saturday March 4th , 2023 at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego against the Seals (6-2).  For fans in the USA, the game will air live on ESPN+ at 4:30 p.m. and can also be seen at 11:00 p.m. EST on ESPNU.  Fans in Canada can see the action on or the TSN app.

The Calgary Roughnecks (7-4) have a bye-week and will be back in action on Friday March 10th, 2023, when they head to Ball Arena in Denver to play the Colorado Mammoth (5-5), game time 9:00 p.m. EST.  Fans in the USA can see the action on ESPN+.  Fans in Canada can see the game on or the TSN app.

Shawn Palmer, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©