In the NLL standings, the Philadelphia Wings rank fifth overall. In the Eastern Conference, they rank third.
Their win on the road against the Georgia Swarm last weekend was huge. Another overtime thriller swung the right way for the Wings. An anxiety-filled battle finished via Brett Hickey snapping the game-winner by Mike Poulin. Philadelphia survived sudden death for the third time in eight games.
Again, Zach Higgins had an electric second half. At halftime, the Swarm led 6-2. Brendan Bomberry and Shayne Jackson had their fingerprints on three powerplay goals.
Ben McIntosh led the attack, scoring a hat-trick in the second half. It’s not the first time we’ve witnessed the Wings start the third quarter with a scoring barrage. Cory Vitarelli was the catalyst against the Rochester Knighthawks. Philadelphia tends to come alive later in games. They realize it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Twice this season, the Wings defeated Georgia in overtime, improving to 5-3.
Toronto Rock (3-3)
Reid Reinholdt and Brandon Slade make their return to the lineup. Jordan McKenna remains on the active roster too.
Starting between the pipes for the Rock is Nick Rose. He’ll be making his 74th consecutive start, the longest active streak for any NLL goaltender, all with Toronto. Rose already earned a 12-9 victory over Philadelphia this season.
Rob Hellyer was the star when these teams met previously. He totaled six points (3G, 3A.) Hellyer dictated the pace of the offense for Toronto. The scoring started with him in the first quarter, then he began a comeback in the second, and in the third, he extended the lead to three. Two of his three assists curated scoring plays to help tie the game at the beginning of the second half, sparking a wave of goals.
Reviewing the pulse of that loss to the Rock, Toronto did copy the “marathon, not a sprint” strategy.
Banging The Boards
Alex Pace (COVID protocol) and Cory Vitarelli (injured reserve) aren’t available. Kyle Marr and Blake Gibson-McDonald move to the active roster.
Zach Higgins hopes to avenge a loss. He didn’t finish the last clash against the Rock; Nolan Clayton stepped in for almost sixteen minutes. Higgins is critical for the Wings. His second-half performances ignite Philadelphia. The Rock rightfully took advantage.
Matt Rambo had seven points (1G, 6A) in the 12-9 loss. He’s a vital element of the offense. Tonight, Paul Day may have to lean on him a little more with Vitarelli absent. Rambo did tally the only powerplay goal when these teams met earlier this season.
Tonight will ride on special teams. Defense declares victory. The Wings have to lock down Toronto on the penalty kill.
Tonight, Philadelphia protects their house. Streaking together two victories while avenging a loss is a massive confidence boost. They could achieve a league-leading six wins. If so, they’re amongst the elite in the NLL.
Wings 12, Rock 10
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)