If the Philadelphia Wings want to stay in the playoff picture, they’ll have to reflect a better record than the Halifax Thunderbirds.
The Wings defeated the Rochester Knighthawks two weeks ago in a cleanly contested contest where both goaltenders shined. Last night, for the second time versus the Knighthawks, Philadelphia outlasted them. It was the fourth time in 2022-2023 that Paul Day coached his team to a one-goal win.
With the victory, the Wings are 2-1 in overtime this season. Both were at the expense of Rochester.
Philadelphia Wings vs. Rochester Knighthawks
Ben McIntosh broke onto the scoreboard to give the Philadelphia Wings an early lead, but Connor Fields rifled a shot from the point perimeter past Zach Higgins. A little over a minute later, Joe Resetarits fired a laser past Rylan Hartley for a 2-1 lead. Then, in :37, Holden Cattoni and Fields scored to rally the Rochester Knighthawks to their first lead, 3-2.
Both defenses began to show resistance over several minutes of play, but the Wings finished strong. Isaiah Davis-Allen jumped on a loose ball and took his scoring chance to the house to tie the game. Then, Chad Tutton gave Philadelphia a lead to finish the first quarter, 4-3.
That goal from Tutton made a big difference in the first half. The Wings began to score in the transition and utilized their defense, flexing extra scoring threats.
Ryan Smith drove the crease short-side on Higgins to tie the game less than a minute into the second quarter. Joe Resetarits answered in under a minute, cutting to the crease and finishing with a diving goal. McIntosh stepped into a shot from the point perimeter, taking Hartley off his feet for the first two-goal lead of the game, 6-4.
A handful of minutes passed before Fields secured a hat trick with 6:09 remaining in the first half. Taite Cattoni extended the lead back to two goals, but Matt Gilray stayed with the rebound surrendered by Higgins, scoring on a dunk from behind the crease. The Knighthawks began to shift the momentum to their favor, trailing 7-6.
Ryland Rees tied the game, but Philadelphia had another trick up their sleeve before halftime. Mitch Ogilvie served a penalty for holding, and Cattoni scored his second of the game, this time on the powerplay, for an 8-7 lead after two quarters.
Out of the locker room, Mitch Jones assumed control. Within three minutes, he tallied two consecutive goals to stretch the Wings’ lead to three goals, 10-7. The first of those two goals, from the point, was his 200th in his NLL career.
Philadelphia controlled the pace of the third quarter. Parker Pipher represented the only Rochester goal in the quarter, but Resetarits secured his hat trick with 3:02 remaining, 11-8. A three-goal lead should have presented a bit of confidence entering the fourth quarter, but the Knighthawks wouldn’t go quietly.
Blaze Riorden scored on the powerplay to immediately begin the fourth quarter. The powerplay represented a slashing penalty by Ethan Schott. Like the earlier goal from Tutton or the dominance in the third quarter, the score by Riorden played a crucial role in sending this game into overtime. With 14:38 remaining in regulation, the Wings led 12-8.
Rochester proceeded to go on a five-goal run. Cattoni began the scoring for the Knighthawks. Austin Hasen scored his first to help close the deficit. Smith finished his hat trick bid, and Fields notched his fourth of the game. With 2:25 remaining, Philadelphia trailed by a goal, 13-12. The lead was shortlived as Cattoni earned his hat trick, 13-13. Holden had two, but Taite bested his brother.
In overtime, Resetarits ended the game. He blasted the game-winner from the point past Hartley for another overtime victory, 14-13. In sudden death, Resetarits allowed the Wings’ playoff hopes to live another day.
A Tough Road
Despite the highs of an overtime victory to preserve a postseason journey, the Philadelphia Wings have a losing record at home. The fans are showing out at the Wells Fargo Center, however. You wouldn’t think they were 4-5 on their home floor.
Slightly better on the road with a 3-3 record, they’ll have to win more games than the Halifax Thunderbirds.
“We’ve been really good on the road; actually we’ve been better on the road than we have been at home.”Jeff McComb; 4/2/2023
The Wings have almost two weeks before they visit the Toronto Rock. Opposite of what Jeff McComb said, Philadelphia claimed their lone victory against the Rock at the Wells Fargo Center.
Higgins Rebounds (+)
In a rematch versus the Halifax Thunderbirds, Higgins got lit up. Angus Goodleaf relieved him between the pipes. The backbone of the Philadelphia Wings, Higgins had to rebound from his recent performance in the 14-10 loss.
“He’s the backbone of our team. He’s been fantastic for multiple years now. He made some huge stops for us; one at the end of the game, a few in overtime. He’s the heart and soul of our team. Not enough good things to say about Higgins.”Ben McIntosh; 4/2/2023
Twice this season, Higgins was replaced by Goodleaf. In each game that followed, Higgins secured a victory.
Both were by a one-goal margin.
Taite Cattoni (+)
Kiel Matisz sang the praise for Cattoni. Matisz played with the Cattoni brothers over the summer. His evolution, especially without Matt Rambo in the lineup, has been a sight to behold with the Philadelphia Wings.
“Picking up Taite this year and watching his confidence build has been nothing but outstanding.”Kiel Matisz; 4/2/2023
His performance was notable for his hat trick while competing against his brother, Holden. If you ask his teammates, Taite is rewarded for the gritty work, such as setting picks for teammates to help open the offense.
Next, the Philadelphia Wings visit the Toronto Rock on April 15th, 2023.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)