This win over the Buffalo Bandits could spark a turning point in this 2020 NLL Season for the Philadelphia Wings. A good team has every opportunity to be great. The Wings are now tied for first place in the East Division with tonight’s opponent, the New England Black Wolves. The one-goal victory against the Bandits puts Philadelphia in prime position to boost their stock for a playoff push. Most importantly, the Wings showed the lacrosse world that they are capable of defeating quality opponents.
Just a couple of minutes into the first quarter, Liam Patten scored his first goal of the season after recovering a loose ball from a sloppy behind the back pass from Steve Priolo to Mitch de Snoo. Patten sniped the top right corner of the net, which is the very definition of “premium gouda.” The Buffalo Bandits answered quickly in transition as Garrett Billings tied the game, 1-1. About a minute later, Josh Currier passed to the top of the point and found Matt Rambo, who put the lead back into the Philadelphia Wings hands. The Wings dictated the pace of this game, playing their brand of defense on the road. At the end of the first quarter, Philadelphia led 2-1.
A few minutes into the second quarter, Garrett Billings fed a pass to JP Kealey who deposited a beautiful behind the back shot through the five-hole of Zach Higgins. This should be a top goal of the week. In transition, the Philadelphia Wings would get that goal back as Anthony Joaquim located Brett Hickey to go up, 3-2. With about six minutes remaining in the first half, Matt Rambo was able to extend the lead with a turn around shot in the slot. It was the first time there was a lead greater than one goal in this game.
On the powerplay, the Philadelphia Wings extended their 4-2 lead with a goal from Kevin Crowley. Later in the third quarter, the Wings were on another powerplay. This time it was Crowley on the assist as Blaze Riorden sank the powerplay goal, extending Philadelphia’s lead to four goals. In the final minute of the third quarter, Corey Small kept possession into the offensive zone and ripped a goal past Zach Higgins. Heading into the final quarter, the Wings led 6-3.
Early in the final quarter, Brett Hickey was guilty of scoring a goal again. He would be accountable for the game-winner. The Buffalo Bandits would make things interesting and put a comeback together, but there just wasn’t enough time left. Corey Small scored off a good cut from just in front of the crease, completed his hat-trick from the wing, and Josh Byrne scored with the extra attacker as the Bandits pulled Matt Vinc. The Philadelphia Wings were able to hold off Buffalo for the last minute and a half to seal the win, 7-6.
As I look back at the tale of the tape between these two teams, the assessment was correct about this being a close game. The Philadelphia Wings are one of the best defensive teams in the NLL because of the ability to possess the ball. Josh Byrne was able to bring the Buffalo Bandits close, but Matt Rambo and Brett Hickey came in clutch down the stretch for the Wings. I never cease to be amazed by Zach Higgins’ play in net. Along with a great defense, Higgins is a big reason why Philadelphia is playing for first place in the East Division tonight against the New England Black Wolves.
For more Philadelphia Wings coverage, follow EricReesePSN on Twitter and PhiladelphiaSN. Faceoff is tonight at 5 pm from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. This game is available to be seen on Bleacher Report Live.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre