Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Wings wrapped up a four-game homestand versus the Albany Firewolves. Paul Day and his roster had time to recover, refine, and ready themselves before visiting the Buffalo Bandits last night.
Earlier this season, during the Wings’ homestand, the Bandits were victorious by a final of 13-9.
Buffalo beat Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center on the night when Kevin Finneran had his number retired. Avenging the earlier loss on the road would be huge for the Wings. Additionally, a win would have helped in the standings. The Bandits lead the NLL Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia showcases an elite defense, and Buffalo has an elite offense. Usually, it’s the defense that wins out. At the KeyBank Center, could the Wings recover against some of the stiffest competition the NLL can offer?
Philadelphia Wings at Buffalo Bandits
When these two teams met earlier this season, it was a tale of two halves. Last night, it all went down to the wire.
Brad McCulley and Sam LeClair had a couple of first-quarter goals. The Bandits and Wings alternated goals, featuring contributions from Ben McIntosh and Dhane Smith. Buffalo led 3-2, then Philadelphia when on a four-goal run. Blaze Riorden and Kiel Matisz added a couple more even-strength goals, and Mitch Jones notched one more on the powerplay. At the end of the first, the Wings led 6-3.
Ian MacKay and Joe Resetarits exchanged goals to begin the second quarter. McIntosh added one more as Philadelphia notched back-to-back goals. Smith added another for the Bandits before halftime. After two quarters, the Wings led 8-5.
Buffalo went on a four-goal run in the third quarter, similar to Philadelphia during the opening frame. Kyle Buchanan and Resetarits exchanged goals to open a 9-6 lead for the Wings. Beginning the four-goal run, Smith completed his hat trick. Next, McCulley scored a powerplay goal, completing his hat trick. Smith added his fourth of the game, and MacKay struck again, but McIntosh notched his hat trick, and Jones finished the quarter strong for Philadelphia, holding onto a tight 11-10 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, LeClair had his goal overturned, ruled that he landed in the crease before the ball crossed the goal line. It was a huge goal that could’ve helped the Wings win a tight game in regulation. MacKay completed his hat trick, and McCulley scored his fourth. Riorden cut to the crease to tie the game, 12-12, before regulation time expired. Had the earlier goal by LeClair not been overturned, Philadelphia would win a close road victory.
In overtime, Smith scored his fifth goal of the game. He had a hat trick and scored the game-winner in the same contest. The Bandits stole one on their home floor in overtime, 13-12.
The box score supports how closely contested this battle was between the Wings and Buffalo. Smith scored the sudden-death game-winner in overtime, but all the finer details were toss-ups between the opponents.
Outshot 54-52, the Bandits were more effective on the powerplay. Both teams committed four penalties, but Buffalo scored on the powerplay three times. Had Philadelphia played with a little more discipline, their possession would’ve switched the tide:
“I liked our work ethic, we out loose-balled them. We battled all night. We just made some mental errors in the second half that ended up in our net.”Paul Day; 2/18/2023
Chad Tutton committed a crucial mental error, punching Smith and spending time in the penalty box. Without that error, it likely takes away a powerplay goal from the Bandits. A game that goes into overtime doesn’t have room for error. Tutton clipped his team’s wings, shortening their flight on that exchange.
“We can compete with anyone in the league. You got to come prepared with that mentality; you can beat anyone in the league.”Paul Day; 2/18/2023
Last night, if anything, showed how much the Wings improved since the last time they battled the same team. Philadelphia can compete with the best in the NLL.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)