The 2019 National Lacrosse League kicks off in Philadelphia this Saturday for the first time in a long time. The Wings are back in the city of brotherly love and is is outstanding to have them back on the turf and between the boards. Philadelphia is a known hot bed lacrosse city and having the Wings back is only going to grow the game more. They will open up the 2018-2019 campaign taking on the Buffalo Bandits. Being one of the two new expansion teams on the block and are stacked with a wide variety of seasoned veterans, to fresh rookies, and all in between on this roster. Let me be the first to say… Welcome Back!
Philadelphia is going to hit the ground running at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon as the team will be lead by general manager and head coach Paul Day. Coach Day has a long history of playing, coaching, and being an executive in the industry and I believe he is going to be a tremendous asset to the organization. Being the teams first head coach in just around 5 years is going to be a great thing for Day to kick off his new campaign.
The team’s offense has a wide range of lacrosse experience on this side of the ball. Whether its talented field players like Matt Rambo, or Chris Cloutier who is proven to be able to score in field and box. Having talented scores in Brett Hickey, Josh Currier, Kiel Matisz, Blaze Riorden and Jordan Hall leading the charge, this offense is going to be able to put some points on the board. It’s intriguing how this group of players is going to come together for a new expansion team and compete right away in the league.
The defensive side of the ball has some absolute giants on this end of the field. 4 players stand taller than 6’2 that can hopefully bring a tough and physical mindset to this blue collar city. Anthony Joaquim, Liam Byrnes, Zach Ried, Chet Koneczny, Brayden Hill, Liam Patten, and Dylan Evans all have played in the league and can hopefully bring a veteran attitude to help the rookies adapt. Joakim Miller, Steph Charbonneau are all newcomers to the league but will make an impact right away.
Transition and Goal-tending
The transition players are made up from trio of players. Trevor Baptiste is certainly a well known name in the lacrosse world from the last 4 years of dominating the face-off X in field and taking home countless number of accolades. Frank Brown has been to the postseason and Adam Osika looks to help produce early offense in this department of the game. In the goal-tending department Doug DiRusico and Doug Buchan both are respective goalies and are looking to have fine years as they get a fresh start in Philadelphia.
Taking a Peek at Buffalo
Taking a look at the Bandits from Buffalo, Dhane Smith put up over 100 points last season. As he goes, the Bandits go. Mitch Jones added over 80 points himself and Jordan Durston pumped in 65 as well last season. Josh Byrne had a great season Last year as well and will look to take some of the strain off of Smith. Keeper ALex Buque saw the majority of the minutes last season saving 77% of the shots he faced and gave up just under around 13 goals per game. It’s a new year and you can’t look at the past. All of that goes out the window once the first faceoff takes place on the 15th.
It’s the first game of the season for both teams and expect each team to look a little sloppy. Coming off the delay of the season it is going to be an interesting first game for the wings in their first contest in nearly 5 seasons. An early start makes a great afternoon for the entire family to go catch a game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wings won a close one this weekend 11-9 and kick off the new era with a bang.