NLL: Las Vegas Desert Dogs celebrate first win in franchise history

Mitch Jones falls in front of Garrett McIntosh. Las Vegas Desert Dogs vs. Vancouver Warriors, January 20, 2023. (Photo: Candice Ward)

Ask fans about lacrosse, you’ll eventually hear these answers: it’s a game of runs, anything can happen, no lead is safe (Writer’s Note: for legal reasons, InLax is required to point out this has also been said of another professional sports league.) All of those clichés, and many others, could be used to describe Friday night’s 15-14 Desert Dogs win over the Vancouver Warriors, the first win in franchise history for, and in, Las Vegas.

For the second straight week, Vegas and Vancouver squared off. In Week 7 the Desert Dogs found themselves down as many as eight goals in the second quarter. They would close to within two late in the fourth, but end up losing 19-16.

Skip ahead a week where the Warriors once again led by eight at the half. Keegan Bal led Vancouver with nine points, four of them goals, in the opening two quarters. Shawn Evans had a goal and an assist in the 12-4 lead.

Down two men on the floor and eight goals on the scoresheet, Vegas was looking for a spark going into halftime. They may have found it when Jackson Suboch and Shawn Evans had words in the corner. That led to Emerson Clark confronting Justin Salt before also having words with Evans. Suboch eventually squared off with Owen Barker. Both teams met at midfloor before heading to the rooms. The melee prompted a short interview from Keegan Bal who said, “That was a coward move by them.”

Due to all the penalties, Bal was awarded a penalty shot to start the third quarter. Landon Kells, who relieved Joel Watson early in the first, stopped the penalty shot and 35 other Warriors attempts on the evening. Shortly after killing off the penalties, Charlie Bertrand, who scored twice in the first, opened the scoring in the second half. Vegas would net three in the third to trail by five.

Jack Hannah added a pair of goals to the one he scored in the third. Reid Reinholdt and Zack Greer completed the comeback, tying the game at 12 in just 19:48. The run came to an end on Adam Charalambides power play goal. But the home team then turned to their veterans – Greer and captain Rob Hellyer – for a three-goal run to seal an eventual 15-14 win – their first in franchise history.

Hannah, who finished with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists), said the key to the comeback was just sticking to the game plan.

“We’re new and we’re building chemistry, but we have our principles we’re trying to stick by.”

He also admitted, the team isn’t going to dwell too much on win No.1: “This is only our first win, we have a lot to build on here.”

Suboch also added postgame thoughts, tweeting “Who’s the coward now?”

Rob Hellyer led Vegas with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists). Also with seven points was Charlie Bertrand (3 goals, 4 assists).

Keegan Bal’s late goal was his only point of the second half, but he still finished with 10 (5 goals, 5 assists). Mitch Jones had nine (8 assists).

Vegas heads to Saskatchewan on Saturday night of Week nine, while Vancouver will host Panther City.