Game Preview - Halifax vs Las Vegas

Feb 7, 2024

The Halifax Thunderbirds are looking to keep their win streak alive in The Nest as they welcome the Las Vegas Desert Dogs to Scotiabank Centre on Friday night. Opening face-off is set for 7:30 p.m. AT. 

Head to Head

This will be the first-ever meeting of the two squads. Las Vegas entered the National Lacrosse League ahead of last season, building out their roster through Expansion in 2022. 

The Desert Dogs have gone through an up-and-down start to the season, currently sitting at 3-4. They opened the year at 1-1 while taking home their first win of the year against Panther City. Their last three games have been a rollercoaster, as they’ve held two top teams in the NLL – San Diego and Albany – to just eight and six goals, respectively, while giving up a whopping 21 to Panther City a few weeks ago. 

Halifax is riding high on a two-game winning streak, the last of which came in overtime in a comeback effort against Philadelphia. They’ll look to continue their momentum in The Nest, as their last game at home was an impressive outing against a tough Rochester side that was held to single digits by Warren Hill and the Thunderbirds’ defence. 

Scouting the Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds’ offence has had no trouble with production over the last two games, putting up a combined 28 goals. 

A 15-goal outing in Philadelphia last week came without Randy Staats in the lineup, with multiple players putting up five-plus point nights. 

Clarke Petterson (16G, 20A) and Ryan Benesch (20G, 12A) lead the team in scoring through seven games. The pair combined for 10 points last weekend, with five of those being goals. 

Cody Jamieson (9G, 20A) came up huge for his team with a hat trick – including the overtime winner – and five points. 

But the biggest performances came from Dawson Theede (3G, 4A) and rookie Aaron Woods (2G, 4A). Austin Shanks had a five-assist night Wake:Riat Bowhunter also had his best showing of the year with a three-assist performance in Philadelphia. 

The depth scoring came through at the perfect time while the Thunderbirds continued to find success in transition, getting goals from Jake Withers (5G, 5A) and Colton Armstrong (2G, 2A) while getting multi-point games from Graeme Hossack (2G, 5A) and Tyson Bell (1G, 3A). 

Warren Hill has been solid in goal for the Thunderbirds over the last month, coming up with two consecutive victories. He currently holds a 11.06 goals-against average and a .750 save percentage. 

Scouting the Desert Dogs

The Desert Dogs’ attack consists of a blend of veteran talent and young up-and-comers. Captain Rob Hellyer (10G, 23A) is the team’s leading scorer while Zack Greer (10G, 12A) and Casey Jackson (15G, 10A) have also had solid starts to their respective campaigns. 

Jack Hannah (9G, 19A), Dylan Watson (7G, 5A), and Sean Westley (5G, 7A) provide secondary scoring for the team, while Jacob Ruest (2G, 10A) also provides good minutes when he’s on the floor. 

The Vegas defence is led by former Thunderbird James Barclay, Adrian Sorichetti, and Tor Reinholdt. But the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Desert Dogs has been young goaltender Landon Kells. He’s been up and down to open this season but has come up big for his team over the last two years. The Vegas starter has a 3-4 record to go along with a 12.57 GAA and a .750 SV% for the season.

Milestone Watch

  • Cody Jamieson needs five assists to reach 600 for his career
  • Ryan Benesch needs four loose balls to become the 16th player in NLL history to reach 1,300 for his career
  • Clarke Petterson needs 10 goals to reach 100 for his career
  • Jake Withers needs 37 face-off wins to surpass Stephen Hoar for seventh all-time in NLL history (1,651)

Broadcast Info

Thunderbirds fans can catch the team in action for the NLL Game of the Week on TSN on Friday. The game will also be available online with TSN+ in Canada and ESPN+ in the United States

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