NLL: Jones’ 300th point leads Warriors to win

New York Riptide at Vancouver Warriors, 12.14.19. (Photo: Bob Frid/National Lacrosse League)

Playing each other for the first time in either franchise’s history, the Vancouver Warriors (0-1) took on the New York Riptide (0-1). Both the Warriors and the Riptide entered the night having lost their opening contests two weeks ago with Vancouver falling to the defending NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks 12-7 while New York lost their inaugural game to the Halifax Thunderbirds 12-4.

This Saturday night contest went back-and-forth for most of the first half; however, led by four-goal efforts from Jordan McBride and Mitch Jones, the Warriors pulled away in the third and won in convincing fashion, 14-10.

Throughout the first quarter, the score seesawed back-and-forth. Keegan Bal opened the scoring less than a minute and a half in, putting the Warriors up 1-0. New York responded with a goal from Kieran McArdle 5:45 into the game. Jordan McBride answered for Vancouver, putting the Warriors up 2-1. New York then took the lead 3-2 courtesy of two goals from Connor Kelly, before McBride scored his second of the night with just over a minute to go in the first tying the game 3-3.

The Warriors pulled ahead in the second quarter with Logan Schuss scoring the first two goals of the frame to give Vancouver a 5-3 lead. A miscue in the Warriors’ crease led to Travis Longboat’s first goal of the night to get one back for New York. Warriors’ captain Matt Beers then tallied for his first goal of the season on a fast break off the ensuing faceoff, restoring Vancouver’s two goal lead. Goals continued to be traded with Mitch Jones and Bal each scoring for the Warriors, while Gale Thorpe and Tyler Digby tallied for the visitors. At halftime, Vancouver led New York 8-6.

Jones praised the work ethic of his captain: “[Beers] just brings an edge that is hard to match throughout the league. When he’s playing hard and setting the tone that helps a lot and it’s great to see him do that.”

“He was a beast,” asserted Warriors’ coach Chris Gill. “He was unbelievable. He was all over the place, he was knocking balls down, knocking bodies down, had great play in transition, got us a goal. It’s one of the better games I’ve seen him play in this league.”

McBride scored less than a minute into the third, and Jones followed that up barely a minute later to put Vancouver up 10-6. New York’s Jean-Luc Chetner managed to beat Aaron Bold on the man advantage to reduce the Riptide’s deficit to three. However, Vancouver was able to reinstate their four-goal lead with 20 seconds to go in the third on McBride’s second goal of the night. The Warriors led the visiting Riptide 11-7 with one quarter left to play.

Scoring first in each quarter was a trend that held up the entire game for the Warriors. Riley Loewen opened up the scoring in the fourth with his first goal of the season, putting Vancouver up by five. New York then scored twice on shots from Dan Lomas and Digby to bring the game within three at 12-9. Jones scored to complete his hat trick for Vancouver but was quickly answered by New York’s Travis Longboat second goal of the night. After a long video review, Jones was awarded his fourth goal of the night.

It was a relief for the Warriors, who hope they can start to build on some momentum and make a strong run this season.

“We had another two weeks to work the wrinkles out,” Jones said. “We’re moving the ball, getting into positions we want to be in and working more as a unit.”

Vancouver’s effort was led by McBride (4G), Jones (4G/5A) and Bal (2G/6A). Jones now has 300 career points in the NLL.

Before the game there was a moment of silence for the passing of Sohen Gill, a member of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and father of Warriors’ head coach Chris Gill. It was a fitting happenstance that this tribute came on, of all nights, superhero night where the Warriors were honouring first responders. Sohen Gill had been a member of the Vancouver Fire Department for over 30 years.

Next up: After the holiday break Vancouver plays the last game of their three-game homestand against the 0-2 San Diego Seals on December 29th. New York will visit the 2-0 New England Black Wolves on December 27th.