NLL: Seals lock up West’s no. 1 seed in convincing fashion

Las Vegas at San Diego – 4.22.23

The penultimate weekend of the regular season came to you from Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California as the Seals took on the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. San Diego found themselves in first place in the West Conference and looked to lock up that one seed for the playoffs, as well as keep pace to try and get the league’s number one seed. The Desert Dogs were going to miss the playoffs in the team’s first season, but looked to end the season on a high note.

There were only three goals scored in the first quarter, but don’t let that fool you. This one got ugly on the scoresheet, as well as the physicality and penalties, specifically in the third quarter. San Diego cruised to a 14-4 win over Las Vegas, solidifying themselves as the West’s top team. Dogs fans, I apologize in advance, here we go.

As previously stated, this one started out slow and steady. Curtis Dickson got the Seals on the board first as he shot off the bench and fired a bullet past Joel Watson. Connor Kirst answered right back for Vegas. A few minutes later, Dane Dobbie tallied his first on the power play. 2-1 Seals after one.

Las Vegas tallied the first goal of the second quarter courtesy of Sam Firth. That goal was at the 12:04 mark of the second. They wouldn’t score again until the 1:36 mark of the third quarter. You can do the math, but generally, that doesn’t win you games. As far as the rest of the second quarter is concerned, San Diego rattled off the next four goals. Scorers were Mac O’Keefe twice, Wesley Berg, and Dobbie, his second. The second of O’Keefe’s goals was on the power play. 6-2 Seals going into the break. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Dogs fans.

Frank Scigliano was spectacular in net for the Seals in the first half. He made 20 saves on 22 shots. Watson struggled a bit making 19 saves on 25 shots.

“We just need to make sure we stay smart offensively.” said Berg at halftime. “Don’t give them any spark by running up the floor or any turnovers. Keep it simple and keep sharing the ball offensively.”

The third quarter was really where this game broke down and frustrations appeared to boil over. San Diego rattled off three goals in the first four minutes before the break down happened. Scorers were Dobbie, giving him a hat trick, Danny Logan, and Austin Staats with a beautiful one-handed dunk from behind the net. At the 9:57 mark, Staats went in and collided with Watson that led to everyone finding a partner and a scrum ensued. Out of all that, Jackson Suboch of Vegas got a five minute cross-checking penalty and a game misconduct. Just wait, there’s more coming up.

After that, the Seals scored two more goals, one from Berg, his second, on the power play and the other from Staats, his second. At the 4:15 mark, Tor Reinholdt found himself in front of the Seals bench. He turned around, had some words, and proceeded to drag Graydon Bradley over the boards and onto the field. That obviously got the attention of everyone else, and another five on five scrum ensued, this time a bit more physical than the last. When the dust settled, we saw two fighting penalties called, a spearing call, and a game misconduct. What in the world did we just witness? Jack Hannah finally got Vegas back in the goal column with a power play marker, but was answered by Patrick Shoemay via a penalty shot. 12-3 Seals going into the fourth. Holy smokes.

The fourth quarter allowed everyone to catch their breath. Only three penalties were committed and three goals were scored. Jon Phillips tallied the first goal for the Dogs, and that’d be it for their scoring on the night. Staats buried his hat trick and Jake Govett got his first, and that’d be all she wrote. Your final from Pechanga, 14-4 Seals.

Players of the game for Las Vegas were Hannah, Kirst, and Phillips, each with one goal. Rob Hellyer tossed in three assists. Watson presumably would like to wash his memory of this game. He struggled, making 36 saves on 50 shots. For San Diego, Dobbie (3+4), Staats (3+1), and Berg (2+5) led the way. Scigliano was sparkling all game, making 28 saves on 32 shots in 51:21 of game play. Christopher Origlieri came on in the fourth and went a perfect eight for eight in his 8:39 of game play. Berg became the first player in Seals’ history to record 100 points in a season, and he did so in his 100th career game.

“I think we just stuck to the process tonight,” said Scigliano after the game. “We had a good practice last night and that carried over into the game. We’re going to enjoy this one and regroup during the week, focus on Colorado and if we stick to the process, there should be a good result.”

San Diego (13-4) is the number one seed in the West. They have one game left and hope for the chips to fall their way to lock up the league’s overall number one seed. They have a tough task next week as they welcome Colorado (9-8) to town. That game should be a doozie considering the last time those two clubs met. Faceoff in that one is Saturday night at 10 pm. Las Vegas (5-12) looks to wash their hands of that game and finish the season on a high note. They travel back home to take on Saskatchewan (7-10) Saturday night at 10:30 pm.