2022-2023 Record: 5-13, 6th place in the West Division, missed the playoffs
New Faces: Casey Jackson, Adrian Sorichetti, Thomas Vaesen, Jonathan Gagliardi
Key Losses: Jack Suboch, Sam Firth
A 5-13 record really didn’t do this team justice last season. Like a lot of expansion teams, it took a while for the Las Vegas Desert Dogs to come together. Once they started to gel together and get an identity as a team, they were no longer the “free space on the bingo card.”
Shawn Williams’ vision of the team continues to take form. The Las Vegas Desert Dogs will have at least 17 forwards coming into camp, four goaltenders, and 21 defenders.
It is just a matter of seeing whether this team can keep the momentum going into another season. They have picked up some key players such as Casey Jackson to bolster the offense and a veteran like Adrian Sorchietti on defense. They lose a little bit of grit in Jackson Suboch in someone who can get under your opponents’ skin, so it’ll be interesting to see who will fill that void. The Desert Dogs aren’t quite an upper-echelon team yet, but they could compete for a lower playoff seed this season.
Going into last season, one of the biggest questions was: Can Jack Hannah adapt quickly to the box game? He proved he could. On that right side, you are likely going to see Rob Hellyer, Jacob Ruest, Marshal King, and Jack Hannah.
Last season, there were times when Las Vegas relied a little too heavily on one or two guys and that usually fell on Hellyer or Ruest. If they want success, they’ll have to pick up on the secondary scoring. Marshal King played 12 games and had 17 points last year, so he’s a guy they hope will step up his game.
On the left side, we could see more competition with Charlie Bertrand, Reid Reinholdt, Zack Greer, and Casey Jackson. If you spread in guys like Jon Phillips and Thomas Vaesen, it’ll be a battle to three or four spots on that side.
This Las Vegas defense could be very underrated heading into the 2023-2024 season. You still have Brandon Clelland, Tor Reinholdt, Connor Kirst, Travis Cornwall, and John Wagner, plus James Barclay, who led the league in blocked shots last season. Now you add a veteran like Adrian Sorchetti, who can also push the ball up the floor, and this team could be dangerous on transition.
When it comes to faceoffs, Clelland took most of the reps last year. Connor Kirst can also take spot duty at the ‘X’. If St. Joseph’s product Zach Cole makes the team, he is more than capable of taking on the faceoff role.
What could be even more interesting will be in goal. After a shaky start last year, Landon Kells came into his own and took the number one job, with Joel Watson as the backup. That likely will not change. However, if they plan to have a third goaltender sitting on the practice roster, it could be a battle between Colin Kirst, who saw limited time last year, and Colin Jeffrey, who has been playing summer ball in the WLA with the Victoria Shamrocks.