Given the prime time spot on NBC Sports Philadelphia Friday night, the Philadelphia Wings did not disappoint. In fact, it was highlighted as the NLL Game of the Week.
On a night where the local heroes were honored, Brett Hickey showed his appreciation by netting five goals in his nine shots. Zach Higgins again shined, only allowing six goals, as the Wings flew past the Riptide 14-6. The Wings moved their home record to 3-0 on the season.
This was game two of three on the season series between these two teams. The Wings and Riptide will face off again in March, but Philadelphia took the season series with the victory Friday night.
This game was a clear tale of two halves. The Riptide may have never held a lead throughout the entire game, but the first half was competitive. The two teams traded blows. Kevin Crowley opened up the game two minutes in, ripping one past Buque. The captain then picked up a goal of his own minutes after, putting the Wings up 2-0.
The Riptide quickly responded, as Fournier and Digby potted back to back goals of their own, knotting the game at two apiece. Which of course, was followed by a pair of Wings’ goals (one assisted by Higgins!). And obviously, the Riptide gained momentum back, scoring two of their own. The Wings responded, which was quickly taken over by Riptide goal.
The even play of the two teams had this one tied up after the first half, much different than the first time these two teams met.
The second half of this game quickly became the Zach Higgins’ show. After allowing five goals in the first half, he surrendered a mere single goal in the entire last 30 minutes of play. His 22 saves in the half and 51 total brought his save total to 299 on the season (.835 save %). The six goals allowed also brought his goals against average down to 8.38, as the goaltender continues to put up career numbers.
Back to the game, the Wings took over as a team as well in the second half. Cory Vitarelli opened the second half scoring, as he found twine for his 200th career goal. Brett Hickey found the back of the net for four of his five on the net in the last half as well. Rambo and Matisz added goals of their own in the half to tag along. Connor Kelly scored the Riptide’s lone goal of the last half.
Philly picked up a clean sweep of the three stars honors.
After making a remarkable 51 saves on the night, Zach Higgins earned the first star of the game. Higgins picked up the win, allowing a mere six goals, and played all 60 minutes.
Next up came the main scorer of the evening. Brett Hickey was honored for his five goals on the night, a season high. He also added an assist on Crowley’s opening goal en route to his six points.
The milestone man picked up the third star of the night. Cory Vitarelli scored career goal number 200 in the midst of his three goals on the night. He assisted on Matisz’s late goal, picking up 4 total points. He also led the team with ten shots on the night.
Philadelphia gets another week away from the field. They will remain on their undefeated home turf next Friday night, Jan 31st, as they host the Georgia Swarm. Georgia currently sits right behind the Wings in the standings, as they are 2.5 games back.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University