“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
Panther City Lacrosse Club opened their second season at Dickies Arena Friday night, playing the expansion Las Vegas Desert Dogs. For PCLC, it was a chance to see 2021 #1 pick Jonathan Donville in action for the first time and start this season on the right foot. This was the inaugural game for Las Vegas, and the opportunity to see how well the pieces acquired by head coach Shawn Williams and his staff fit together. Showing a significant amount of grit and hustle, the Desert Dogs kept it close. However, a third quarter run by Panther City held up as they triumphed 13-11.
Bigger In Texas
Las Vegas opened the game with John Wagner (2g, 2a) scoring the first goal in Desert Dogs history just 22 seconds into play. PCLC responded with Will Malcom (4g, 3a; 1:11) and Phil Caputo (3g, 4a; 2:22; power play) starting their big nights. The pace of play was frenetic, as the Desert Dogs regularly applied defensive pressure up to the center line. Likewise, PCLC pushed their transition game in an effort to find holes in the new Vegas defensive gameplan.
Rob Hellyer (1g, 3a; 7:19) knotted the game at 2-2. Jon Phillips, activated in place of Marshal King, scored his first career NLL goal (11:25) shorthanded to give Vegas a 3-2 lead. Panther City would answer with a four-goal run into the second quarter. Malcom netted his second on a power play (12:24), followed by Nathan Grenon (13:43).
Panther City would tack on two more in transition to start the second quarter. Liam Patten (3:37; power play) buried one past goalie Joel Watson, then Liam Byrnes went five-hole on Watson (25 saves) a few seconds later to make it 6-3. The Desert Dogs responded with a three-goal run of their own. Jack Hannah went back to back (5:22; 8:46 power play), and Sam Firth (1g, 1a; 13:48) tied it. Patrick Dodds (1g, 4a; 14:20) and Jacob Ruest (14:27) traded goals in the final minute of the first half. After 30 minutes of play, the game was tied 7-7.
PCLC Holds On After Big 3Q Run
The second half began with Malcom’s third and fourth goals (0:48; 2:56) restoring a two-goal lead for PCLC. A second marker from Phillips (3:21) cut the deficit in half. Cam Wengreniuk (5:56) scored his first career NLL goal to push Panther City’s lead back to two. Caputo would then notch his second and third goals of the game (11:45; 13:43) to make it 12-8. Following the first of those goals, PCLC defenseman Nate Wade and Las Vegas defender Jackson Suboch would drop the gloves and fight to a draw, delighting the crowd in Fort Worth.
Once again, the teams would exchange goals in the final minute of the quarter. Erik Turner (14:25) scored for Las Vegas, while Josh Medeiros (14:38) made it 13-9, sneaking a shot over Watson’s shoulder from a narrow angle. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Watson was pulled in favor of Landon Kells, who would finish the game in relief. The fourth quarter was comparatively quiet, with Reid Reinholdt (1g, 1a; 4:17) and Wagner’s second (10:04) trimming the lead to 13-11. Kells (12 saves) did not allow any markers from PCLC, but the Desert Dogs could get no closer as time ran out.
Other Stats Of Note
Las Vegas won 20 of 29 faceoffs, as Brandon Clelland outdueled Tyler Burton most of the night.
Power Play: LV 1 of 2; PCLC 3 of 4
Jonathan Donville (PCLC): 3a
Jacob Ruest (LV): 12 loose balls (led all players)
Nick Damude (PCLC): 29 saves
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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.