NLL: Seals hold off Panther City for win at Pechanga Arena

Panther City Lacrosse Club at San Diego Seals 02.04.2023 (Photo: San Diego Seals/NLL)

The San Diego Seals may very well have one of the most complete rosters in the NLL. Saturday night they came in as the top team in the West Conference. However, one of the more upstart, young and fun-to-watch teams in the Panther City Lacrosse Club came into Pechanga Arena looking to boost their playoff chances.

Something to think about: PCLC came in sitting in the fourth spot in the West. That’s the “crossover spot,” so games at this point in the season, and moving forward, mean a ton if they want to continue their playoff hopes.

San Diego started this one off hot, and fought off a late PCLC comeback attempt. The Seals continued their winning ways, beating Panther City 12-10.

As we said, the Seals started this game off hot. A three-goal run to start a game in front of your home crowd should definitely swing the momentum in your favor. The goals were scored by Mac O’Keefe, Austin Staats and Wesley Berg. O’Keefe hit Nick Damude with his patented side-arm worm burner, Staats powered his way to the net, and Berg threw about a million fakes and shot up top. PCLC’s dynamic rookie Mathieu Gautier answered right back with a snipe on a two-on-one break. Staats got his second with just over a minute left in the quarter to make it 4-1 Seals after one.

Dane Dobbie got his first of the game just under a minute into the second quarter to boost the Seals’ lead. PCLC quickly responded with Gautier’s second and Patrick Dodds’ first on the power play. Any time PCLC crawled back, San Diego had an answer, or multiple. Kevin Crowley got his first and Berg scored two straight to complete his hat trick. All of a sudden it was 8-3 Seals with 5:39 to play in the second. The birthday boy, Jonathan Donville, and Dobbie traded goals to end the quarter, making it 9-4 Seals going into the half.

San Diego had a good amount of success against former Seal Nick Damude. The PCLC goaltender saw his fair-share of shots, saving 19 of 28. On the other side, the youngster Christopher Origlieri stood on his head in the first half. He made 20 saves on 24 shots.

“Kevin opened me up for a few good seals there,” said Berg. “We’re just moving the ball well offensively. We just gotta be unselfish, keep moving the ball, and keep getting those resets.”

The second half was a penalty-palooza. Six of the nine total goals scored by both clubs were on the power play. PCLC opened the scoring, as Nathan Grenon scored his first, ironically a short-handed goal, from range. That goal was at the 10:04 mark. The next goal wasn’t scored until Gautier tallied his hat trick on the power play, at the 4:53 mark. Dobbie scored his hat trick on the power play, and Gautier got his fourth, also on the power play, and we sat at 10-7 Seals going into the fourth quarter. Holy power play goals.

Just like the start of the third, Grenon opened the scoring in the fourth. Jake Fox followed that up with his first, on the power play. Staats got his hat trick, and Will Malcolm got his first, both on the power play. Redundant yet? San Diego sulked this one away, along with phenomenal goaltending from Origlieri. With :42 left, Cam Holding collected a loose ball, and fired a shot from in front of his own crease. After a few bounces and some holding of your breath, the ball went into the empty net. That’d be your dagger boys and girls. Your final from Pechanga, 12-10 Seals.

Players of the game for San Diego were Berg (3+1), Dobbie (3+2), and Staats (3+2). One name left out of the goal column was Curtis Dickson. Superman did register six assists on the night. Origlieri stood tall late, making 42 saves on 52 shots for the night. As for PCLC, Gautier (four goals), Donville (1+6) and Malcolm (1+5) led the way. Damude saw a ton of shots, and was one of the main reasons PCLC was in the game late. He made 47 saves on 58 shots.

“We had our backs against the wall there in the fourth period”, said Holding. “There was a missed shot, I picked it up, and thought we were going to call a timeout. Went for the empty net and thankfully it went in. It’s nice to have a win going into a bye week.”

San Diego (6-1) remains the top team in the West. They have some time off before hosting Saskatchewan (4-2) on February 17th at 10 p.m. PCLC (4-4) needs to get back into the win column if they want a shot at the postseason. They host Vancouver (1-7), this Saturday at 8 p.m.