Wings stifled by Fire Wolves in 2023 home opener

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Philadelphia Wings
Philadelphia Wings logo (Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)

Splitting a two-week road trip to begin the 2023-2024 season didn’t come without a cost for the Philadelphia Wings (1-2-0). The second half of the home opener versus the Albany Fire Wolves (3-0-0) showed how expensive the price paid in Toronto.

Holden Cattoni and Blaze Riorden are out with upper-body injuries, missing the action at the Wells Fargo Center. Combine those injuries with another absence this season in Matt Rambo, and it’s easy to tell how much work is cut out for the offense. A sense of urgency and physicality that was present on the road trip didn’t make the ride back to Broad Street.

“Everybody’s got to step up. That’s something Paul’s [Day] said, too. When guys of that caliber drop out of your lineup, everybody’s got to step up. I think we’re still waiting on the guy next to us to do a better job. We’re following that at the results were there. That’s a really good, well coached, young team and they kicked our ass.”

Ian Llord; 12/16/2023

Here’s how it all went down over the weekend:

Philadelphia Wings vs. Albany Fire Wolves

Even strength lacrosse belonged to the Fire Wolves throughout most of the game. Jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead, Ethan Walker and Sam Firth set the pace before Tye Kurtz added a shorthanded goal to grow the lead to 3-0.

On the powerplay, however, the Wings clawed back into the game. Joe Resetarits and Mitch Jones set up consecutive chances on consecutive powerplays, 3-2. Sam LeClair tied the game, 3-3, with 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter, not allowing Albany to open with an established lead.

Special teams remained a critical component for Philadelphia. Taggart Clark gave the Wings a lead, 4-3. Resetarits followed with his second powerplay goal and third powerplay point, including Jones again on the assist, growing the lead to 5-3. Then, Resetarits traded even-strength goals with Firth en route to a first-half hat-trick, 6-4.

Albany, who only converted 14.2% of their powerplay chances before the opening faceoff, did score. Alex Simmons represented the lone powerplay conversion for the Fire Wolves, 6-5. Walker began the scoring in the first half and capped it, tying the game, 6-6, to make this contest fresh for the second half. On the penalty kill, Philadelphia stopped 4/5 chances.

The third quarter was ugly for the Wings. Travis Longboat added a shorthanded goal, 7-6, before Simmons and Nathan Grenon helped Albany to a three-goal run, 9-6. Taite Cattoni interrupted Albany, scoring shorthanded as Chad Tutton served a minor penalty for slashing, 9-7. Then, the Fire Wolves scored three goals in as many minutes to close the third quarter, receiving contributions from Marshall Powless, Simmons, and Grenon for a 12-7 lead.

Philadelphia, on offense, averaged 10 goals per game before their home opener. Despite the struggles on special teams for Albany, they averaged 14.5 goals per game. The Wings were equipped to win the special teams battle and did, but the Fire Wolves controlled the even-strength pace, largely beginning at the faceoff stripe, and that reflected on the scoreboard. Additionally, Zach Higgins was pulled in the third quarter for Deacon Knott.

“I don’t think we did a terrible job with Joey [Resetarits]; Joey’s very good. I thought we did a pretty good job; a better job than we did against Toronto. They [Albany Fire Wolves] got one off the faceoff tonight; one goal off it. It really was a mix up; we had coverage. But, the thirty-second clock is the equalizer off the faceoffs. We’re going to get the ball back in thirty.”

Paul Day; 12/16/2023

Kurtz opened up the fourth quarter with another shorthanded goal, 13-7. His second goal on the penalty kill made for three shorthanded markers by Albany. Walker completed his hat-trick bid, 14-7.

Jones matched Resetarits in points on a scoring play set up by Tanner Buck and Marcus Minichiello, 14-8. Philadelphia was able to tack on a couple more goals after Nick Chaykowsky made it 15-8. Ben McIntosh and Cattoni made it 15-10.

“I thought in the fourth quarter, we tried to jam it down their throat in transition when we actually needed to get some flow. We need our offensive guys to touch the ball. They hadn’t touched because we were shorthanded a few times. [There’s] things to clean up, but it’s early in the year and we expect to be better.”

Paul Day; 12/16/2023

Coming out of the second half, the Wings didn’t have an answer to stop the Fire Wolves. With the exception of the third quarter, Philadelphia kept up with Albany. Day will have the Christmas break to iron out kinks in his lineup, and in addition, continue to develop younger forwards.

“It’s obviously tough. You lose your captain, you lose two tremendous, elite players in this league. It is what it is though and this point. We got to have that mentality that it’s next man up. That means everyone else has to step up.”

Joe Resetarits; 12/16/2023

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Wings set the tone for week five in the NLL, visiting the Halifax Thunderbirds at the Scotiabank Centre on Friday, December 29th, at 6:30pm.

(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)