A week ago, the Philadelphia Wings were embarrassed by the Toronto Rock. They had six days to regroup and play the type of lacrosse Paul Day expects of his roster.
Hosting the Buffalo Bandits never means ‘just another home game.’ The Wings have a history with the Bandits; the two teams respect each other, but there is no love lost. It’s a rivalry dating back to the original stint in the NLL for Philadelphia.
And how apropos, the Wings retired the #11, putting a banner in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center for Kevin Finneran.
Celebrating Finneran is one thing. Another is rebounding from a poor performance a week prior. Winless at home, Philadelphia wanted to get one for the fans, in front of Finneran, in the City of Brotherly Love. An underdog on their home floor, did the Wings overcome the odds versus Buffalo?
Philadelphia Wings vs. Buffalo Bandits
This was a tale of two halves.
Zach Higgins started great in the first half, stopping all but three shots on goal. Sam LeClair put the Wings on the board before Blaze Riorden tacked on a couple more. Philadelphia moved the ball in the offensive zone during the first quarter, sustaining pressure because they could create space.
“Sammy does such a great job when he doesn’t have the ball; creating space. It’s things you don’t see a lot. He had some great opportunities, too.”Paul Day; 1/27/2023
Then, the Wings cooked on the powerplay a little bit in the second quarter, notching goals along the perimeter from Ben McIntosh and Matt Rambo. At halftime, Philadelphia led 6-3.
“We talked to our guys this week. We’re entrusted with the front of that jersey; being a Wing and making sure we come here and lay it on the line. We did that for most of the game; battled much better than last week.”Paul Day; 1/27/2023
For most of the game, the Wings did battle hard. Unfortunately, ‘most of the game’ doesn’t include the third quarter. Buffalo went on a six-goal run, taking over the game entirely. Before the end of the quarter, McIntosh stopped the bleeding, attempting to shift the momentum back to his team. Heading into the fourth, Philadelphia trailed 9-7.
“We knew they [Bandits] were going to come out hot in that third quarter. I’m sure they weren’t happy with the way they played in the first half. We got to manage that. We got to stop that run.”Ben McIntosh; 1/27/2023
The Bandits second-half performance toppled the Wings’ offensive production through four quarters. Ten goals in the second half would’ve been enough to get the win on its own. Neither Higgins nor Angus Goodleaf could stop Tehoka Nanticoke on the way to a hat-trick, including a first-quarter powerplay marker. McIntosh notched a hat trick too, but it wasn’t enough to close the deficit. In regulation, Buffalo finished the first-half comeback, 13-9.
“All of us have to put in a little bit [more] work into the week.”Matt Rambo; 1/27/2023
On the powerplay, the Philadelphia Wings were 2/7. McIntosh and Rambo notched the goals on those chances. In a game where the deficit could be recovered by scoring on the man advantage, there is a glaring requirement to improve on special teams during the practice week.
Day noted that going 2/7 isn’t good enough to compete in the NLL.
Philadelphia did play a relatively clean game in terms of penalties. Since returning home to the Wells Fargo Center, they’re drying up offensively, whether that means on the powerplay or even strength.
Goaltending Dilemma (-)
For the third time in the 2022-2023 season, Higgins was pulled in favor of Goodleaf.
Day thinks highly of his goaltender, sticking with Higgins at the start of each game this season. Should a change be on the horizon? Additionally, the Philadelphia Wings have added depth in areas where they’ve struggled, adding Taite Cattoni and Marcus Minichiello. Could the Wings look for more goaltending?
One of the more critical decisions heading into Saturday versus the Albany Firewolves will be the goaltender occupying the crease in the first quarter. This week is particularly vital in Voorhees for Higgins and Goodleaf.
Next, the Philadelphia Wings host the Albany Firewolves at 7pm on Saturday, February 4th, 2023. Don’t miss the opening faceoff on ESPN+.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)