The Philadelphia Wings 2022-2023 season was bittersweet.
Falling from grace and out of reach of the NLL Playoffs, the Wings endured a few close losses in critical times. Losses to the New York Riptide and the Georgia Swarm dampened postseason hopes with more than a month left in the 2022-2023 campaign. It put more pressure on doubling up against the Toronto Rock or securing the first win in franchise history versus the Halifax Thunderbirds. Unfortunately, the Rock took the season series, and the Thunderbirds swept.
One win short of the playoffs is heartbreaking. Winning the season finale is the next best thing.
On the outside, looking in, the Wings have to watch the Rochester Knighthawks battle the Buffalo Bandits in the NLL Eastern Quarterfinals. Before then, they did battle to end the season. Philadelphia remained undefeated against Rochester in 2022-2023.
Philadelphia Wings at Rochester Knighthawks
Thomas Hoggarth put the Rochester Knighthawks on the board for a 1-0 lead. Then, the Philadelphia Wings dominated the rest of the first half.
Zach Higgins notched an assist, leading Chad Tutton on an outlet pass for the 1-1 tie. The Wings captured a 2-1 lead after Mitch Jones drove down the right wing, creeping back to the point perimeter and uncorking a bounce shot.
Pouring on the offense, Joe Resetarits scored from the point perimeter as Ben McIntosh set a high screen. Then, after recovering the rebound on a shot by Austin Hasen, Kiel Matisz made it 4-1 in favor of the Wings at the end of the first quarter.
Blaze Riorden doubled up on goals to open the second quarter. His first, shorthanded, from the slot, followed by an even-strength effort from the point, increased the Wings’ lead to 6-1. Then, Jones doubled up as well, finishing his hat trick bid. Jones, from close or long-range, extended the lead to 8-1. Rylan Hartley left the game, allowing Riley Hutchcraft to finish in relief.
Paul Dawson and Hunter Lemieux got chippy in the Wings’ offensive zone. Their extracurricular activities hung the Knighthawks’ defense out to dry. Philadelphia led at halftime, 9-1, after McIntosh took advantage of the three-on-one rush.
Opening the second half, the best penalty kill in the NLL struck. With the Wings on the powerplay, Holden Cattoni scored in transition, 9-2. It was the first goal for the Knighthawks since the first 71 seconds of the game, taking place in the first 40 seconds of the second half.
Resetarits and McIntosh each notched their second goal of the contest. The Wings found shooting lanes from the point and point perimeter throughout the season, and Resetarits scored from that sweet spot again. McIntosh added on the powerplay, a quick release for an 11-2 lead.
Before the end of the third, the Knighthawks scored two more. Connor Fields rifled a shot from the point, 11-3. Hoggarth scored his second of the game amid some confusion along the Wings’ bench, resulting in a poorly executed change in the transition to get set defensively, 11-4. Higgins hardly had a chance to make a save.
McIntosh notched a hat trick 69 seconds into the fourth quarter, 12-4. Then, the Knighthawks broke through on offense.
Hoggarth began the Knighthawks’ run, securing his hat trick bid along the crease, 12-5. Turner Evans slid behind the defense to score in close on Higgins, 12-6. Then, Cattoni finished his hat trick bid with back-to-back goals, 12-8. Suddenly, this was a contest again.
Lemieux did more than exchange pleasantries with Dawson. He scored an insurance policy goal, diving across the crease, 13-8. The Wings weren’t out of the woods yet.
Fields began another small run, scoring from the point instead of pushing downfield, 13-9. Pulling Hutchcraft for the man advantage, Curtis Knight scored from the point perimeter, 13-10. Hoggarth added another in traffic following a shot on goal, bringing the Knighthawks within two of the lead, 13-11. The Wings needed to maim a frantic pace for another 17.8 seconds to escape with a victory following a miserable fourth quarter.
Jones found Tutton on a pass that went three-quarters the way downfield. Tutton added one more, an empty net goal with seven seconds on the clock, 14-11.
Undefeated against the Knighthawks, 3-0, in 2022-2023, the Wings will have to watch the NLL Playoffs instead of compete.
So Close, Yet So Far
Following the win, it’s a bittersweet feeling to end the season on a high note, and also understand you’re undefeated against a team that will compete in the NLL Playoffs.
Close losses that kept the Philadelphia Wings out of the NLL Playoffs. Each week in the NLL is a postseason audition, and Paul Day hammered home the completion of eighteen quality weeks and the correlation it has to meaningful lacrosse in May:
“One of the messages was how important one to eighteen; every game is in this league. We dropped one or two early this season that really came back to haunt us.”Paul Day; 4/29/2023
Damaged toward the end of the season, the Wings were without Trevor Baptiste, Matt Rambo, Ryan Wagner, and Brock Sorensen. Those players play critical roles in a Day game plan. Nonetheless, the lineup finished with a road victory and an exclamation point on the 2022-2023 regular season.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)