All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports Network
Las Vegas is the newest team to be gracing the National Lacrosse League (NLL), preparing for their inaugural season. After an expansion draft, free agency, and the 2022 NLL entry draft, the Desert Dogs are ready to get rolling.
With Shawn Williams as the GM and Head Coach, the team is in good hands both on the floor and in the front office. Ken Millin, Kurtis Wagar, and Rob Williams round out the coaching staff for the Desert Dogs. All come with great experience and teaching abilities. They are the correct men to get this team in the right direction from the start.
Before the expansion draft, Williams was busy building his offense grabbing two major pieces from the Toronto Rock. Rob Hellyer and Reid Reinholdt will be important pieces to the mix if Las Vegas is to be successful in year one.
A majority of expansion team pickups were flipped for draft picks and young prospects. Jackson Nishimura, Connor Fields, Riley Hutchcraft, Brett McIntyre, Frank Scigliano, and Jeff Cornwall all were traded on draft night.
With Rob Hellyer, Reid Reinholdt, Jacob Ruest, Zack Greer, Erik Turner, Charlie Bertrand, as well as Sam Firth this will be a powerful lineup. Throw in the likes of Sean Westley, Alec Simons, Ty Thompson, and Marshal King (currently on the Hold Out List). There is no end of creativity that can be achieved by this group.
The defense is a combination of veteran savvy players, with hungry up and comers. Led by Tor Reinholdt, Travis Cornwall, Garrett McIntosh, John Wagner, James Barclay, and Brandon Clelland, the back end will welcome Jackson Subach, Nick Ellerton, Peytin Wallace, and Griffin Hall. Add into the mix the return of tough guy Ilija Gajic (who hasn’t played since 2017) and Williams has lots to choose from to give this group an identity.
Landon Kells is the front runner for the starting goaltender position, with Joel Watson being his steady and stable backup. The biggest question in Kells is how will he react to seeing a lot of rubber. His first year was backing up Christian Del Bianco in Calgary, seeing very limited action.
Does Shawn Williams trade some of his assets for another goalie with more experience? Time will tell, but Kells is definitely slotted as the future for the Desert Dogs. Steve Orelman in New York and Nick Damude in Panther City achieved good results when put in the same position with their respective teams.
If Vegas is going to be successful, they will need to find a way to gel with each other. The schedule has them playing Panther City and Vancouver (both non playoff teams last year) in four of their first five games. These are teams they need to play well against. Come season end, these teams will most likely be battling for the final playoff spot.
The Desert Dogs will be an exciting team to watch. They may not be with the strongest in the league, but will give teams all they can handle.
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Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.