Justin Ivey, Co-Editor and NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-7) hosted the Vancouver Warriors (3-9) on Saturday night in the rubber match between the two West Division foes. In the previous two matchups this season, in back-to-back weeks, the home team won a close game. The third and final regular season matchup did not follow the same script. The visiting Warriors led almost from start to finish; there was only a 1:38 period in the second quarter when Las Vegas was able to keep the game tied 3-3. Ryan Martel (5G, 3A) and Keegan Bal (2G, 6A) paced the Warriors offense, and Aaron Bold (38 SV) allowed only five goals on 43 shots. It is an understatement to say the Desert Dogs’ offense was struggling. Only two players found the back of the net, Rob Hellyer (3G) and Jon Phillips (2G). Final Score: Vancouver-14, Las Vegas-5.
The game Saturday night started fast. Both teams’ opening possessions saw the ball flying around the turf, but also showed some heavy hitting defense as both came up without a goal. The bad blood from the last meeting clearly carried over (remember the unfathomable number of penalties at halftime?!). Vancouver would break the scoreless tie 3:08 in on a power play from a Jacob Ruest holding penalty. Adam Charalambides (1G, 3A) fired a rifle from the top around a Las Vegas defender with just 3 seconds on the possession shot clock. Gaining possession off the ensuing faceoff, Vancouver settled into their offense and Riley Loewen (2G, 4A) found Martel on a pick and roll from the side. Martel caught the ball in stride and scored to put the visitors up 2-0 just 40 seconds after the first score. An illegal substitution penalty on the Warriors gave the Desert Dogs their first look on the man up. Hellyer buried his first of the night with the advantage and 9:03 remaining. Scoring took a break as both goalies started seeing the ball extremely well for the next few minutes, but with 2:54 remaining, Martel buried his second of the quarter on a low sidearm from outside. At the end of the first quarter, Vancouver led Las Vegas 3-1.
Las Vegas came out determined to start the second quarter. They held Vancouver without a goal for over five minutes and notched two of their own to get the game knotted back up. Phillips scored his first of the game 2:55 in from the doorstop after catching a beautiful pass from a cutting Charlie Bertrand (1A). Hellyer scored his second of the game just over a minute later in transition. From there though, the tide really turned. Vancouver rattled off six unanswered goals to end the half, starting with a Loewen power play score with 9:14 left. Loewen caught the ball on the side of the crease, and simply stepped in front to bury the ball from close. Martel scored next to complete his first half hat trick, and just over 30 seconds later Kyle Killen (1G, 1A) found the net. Bal then rattled off two in a row, both assisted by Tyler Codron (3A) before Martel closed the half with his fourth of the game and 1:13 left in the half. At halftime, Vancouver led Las Vegas 9-3.
The Desert Dogs tried to get on the right foot and turn things around in the second half. Phillips scored his second of the game just 1:47 in on a well-positioned shot from outside through defenders. The celebration was short lived though, as Reid Bowering (2G) restored the six goal lead for Vancouver with his first goal of the game. Las Vegas couldn’t break through again for the rest of the quarter, and Vancouver capitalized on two power play opportunities to extend the lead even further. Shawn Evans (1G, 2A) buried his only goal of the game with 6:01 remaining, and Loewen found the net again with just 59 seconds left on the clock. At the end of the third quarter, Vancouver led Las Vegas 12-4.
Las Vegas was in desperation mode entering the fourth quarter down eight goals. Again, they would strike first. Hellyer completed his hat trick, scoring from outside while the Vancouver defense was still scrambling to find their assignments 4:49 in. But the pattern continued. Bold and the Vancouver defense held Las Vegas off the score sheet for the remainder of the game, and added two more goals to the already pretty much insurmountable lead. Martel notched his fifth with 7:37 left, and Bowering scored his second of the game with 4:24 left on the game clock. Final Score: Vancouver-14, Las Vegas-5.
The Vancouver Warriors (3-9) host the San Diego Seals (8-2) on Friday, March 17 at 10:00 PM EDT.
The Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-7) visit Panther City Lacrosse Club (7-5) on Saturday, March 18 at 8:00 PM EDT.