The Philadelphia Wings began the season with a three-game road trip, improving to 2-1 after defeating the Las Vegas Desert Dogs.
It was the first contest between the two franchises. The Desert Dogs are a recent expansion of the NLL beginning in the 2022-2023 season.
The Wings began 2022-2023 with a loss in Halifax but responded with a tough win against the Georgia Swarm. Then, on Friday, Ben McIntosh and Joe Resetarits had extraordinary performances in Las Vegas.
Special teams told the story for both teams. When Philadelphia found themselves in the penalty box for extended periods, the Desert Dogs kept the game tight. McIntosh and Resetarits scored powerplay, shorthanded, and even strength goals throughout the contest. Both notched goals on the man advantage in the first half, then secured an even strength and shorthanded marker after halftime. Zach Higgins contributed mightily, never trembling between the pipes.
Trevor Baptiste contributed to scoring in the first, directly off a faceoff, for a 3-2 lead. Higgins and the Wings’ penalty kill kept treading water in the second, only allowing a late powerplay goal by Rob Hellyer, which tied the game, 5-5. Blaze Riorden damaged Las Vegas at the crease, tallying two, including one in a four-goal run, bringing Philadelphia to an 11-8 lead at the end of the third. Matt Rambo finished the scoring for the Wings, headlining another four-goal run with a 14-9 final score.
In transition, the defense let themselves off the leash after halftime. Philadelphia was on the penalty kill for the back half of the second quarter, limiting their attack and moxie.
“We were sitting back a little bit in the first half and we really wanted them in the second half to attack. We were standing and watching a little too much in the first half and defensively we gave them some good looks.”Paul Day; 1/6/2023
Once the Wings found their discipline, they took back the transition.
“We need to play. We challenged them at halftime to play and come out with some spark. It started really well with Matisz and Trevor on some faceoffs. We had three goals in transition in the second half; that started us off.”Paul Day; 1/6/2023
Kiel Matisz was in alone on Landon Kells for his transition score. Reseitarits finished an even-strength goal in a three-on-two flip. Additionally, Eric Shewell stood out due to his physicality.
Zach Higgins (+)
He faced a barrage of shots due to the time spent on the penalty kill in the second quarter. Higgins shined in an ‘if I survive this, I can survive anything’ scenario.
“We had a bit of a slow start and Higgy bailed us out in the first half. We were challenged at half to pick our intensity up and play strongly together. We answered the challenge. A lot of good things stuck out; our man down was awesome. Higgy on man down was great. We started playing some good team [defense] in the second half.”Alex Crepinsek; 1/6/2023
In all, he saved 42/51 shots on goal. The Desert Dogs can claim that they peppered Higgins with the most shots on goal, but he had the best game of his young 2022-2023 campaign between the pipes on Friday. It’s a remarkable recovery after how the season began for Higgins against the Halifax Thunderbirds.
Resetarits and McIntosh (+)
These two combined for the same number of goals scored by Las Vegas’ roster.
“In the second half, our five-on-five heated up, and we started finding our rhythm. Benny Mac proved why he’s one of the top goal-scorers this sports’ ever had. He stepped up big for us tonight when we needed him, especially early on, and kept it going throughout the game.”Joe Resetarits; 1/6/2023
The Desert Dogs couldn’t stop McIntosh and Resetarits. They were a situational lacrosse nightmare, scoring on the powerplay, shorthanded, and even strength scenarios.
Resetarits tallied nine points (4G, 5A) in the victory over Las Vegas. McIntosh led with five goals. That is fifteen points (9G, 6A) spread between two players in a dominant performance.
Next, the Philadelphia Wings host Panther City at the Wells Fargo Center. The opening faceoff takes place at 7pm on January 14th, 2023.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)