“Oh what a Day!”
It was July 11, 2014 around 2 p.m. when a press release arrived that stuck a dagger into the hearts of faithful Philadelphia Wings fans. It was announced that the team was sold and would be moving to Uncasville, CT and would later be renamed the New England Blackwolves.
For a while the pain still lingered for Wings’ faithful, and to this day there is still some anger in some fans. Some traveled to follow their favorite players in New England, and some refused to watch a game.
Fans took to social media to wish the players good luck, and the players posted their own messages stating how they loved playing in Philadelphia and in front of such devoted fans.
Fast forward to July 16, 2018 (four years and five days later) and the Philadelphia Wings are not only back in business, but they drafted their first nine players.
“We have been working on scouting and prospecting players over the past year. Today marks another exciting step for the franchise. Our goal is to build a team with players that have Philadelphia ties, strong character, and can compete year in and year out. With our selections today we are poised to put a team on the turf that will win games and make Philadelphia proud,” said Paul Day.
Philadelphia Wings Expansion Draft selections:
1 (1) Brett Hickey (28), Toronto Rock Fwd – 6-2, 225 lbs.
2 (3) Kiel Matisz (29) Georgia Swarm Fwd – 6-5, 215 lbs.
3 (5) Jordan Hall (34 on Aug 31) Georgia Swarm Fwd – 6-0, 190 lbs.
4 (7) Josh Currier (25) Rochester Knighthawks Fwd – 5-11, 164 lbs
5 (9) Frank Brown (25 on Nov 23) Rochester Knighthawks Fwd – 6-4, 200 lbs
6 (11) Matt Rambo (24) New England Blackwolves Fwd – 5-10, 195 lbs
7 (13) Anthony Joaquim (24) New England Blackwolves Def. – 6-2, 205 lbs
8 (15) Vaughn Harris (26 on Sept 20) Buffalo Bandits Fwd – 5-10, 197 lbs
9 (17) Davide DiRuscio (26) Buffalo Bandits Goalie – 6-3, 300 lbs
Via trade for selecting Vaughn Harris…Zac Reid (29) Buffalo Bandits Def. – 6-1, 195 lbs.
The Wings went for offense, drafting seven forwards. Hickey, Matisz, Hall, Currier and Harris add a lot of scoring and leadership to the team, while Frank Brown, local product Matt Rambo (Glenside, PA) and Anthony Joaquim, drafted 24th, 46th & 8th, respectively, in the 2017 Entry Draft will be three players to truly watch as they grow into the game.
Hickey will add that power forward type of player. A player not afraid to go in front and take the punishment that comes along with it to get the goal. Although he struggled last year, Hickey is a player that can come up huge when needed.
Jordan Hall and Kiel Matisz will add leadership on and off the floor. Hall played for the Wings from 2012-14 prior to the move; he is the type of player that can be used in a strong transition game, and can find a lot of offensive scoring opportunities. Matisz will definitely add size. Standing 6’5”, Matisz can sprint down the floor like a gazelle and put the ball into the back of the net at any given time. Matisz was drafted third overall in 2012 and ranked 5th last season with (16G/50A) for the Swarm.
Josh Currier, drafted sixth overall in 2016, led all players in playoff goals and accumulated 31 points on the season.
“Currier is a young player that led the league in playoff goals. His game is built on speed; he doesn’t have to have the ball to be successful, which is really important for the offense,” said Day.
Vaughn Harris played in 14 games for the Bandits, collecting 105 loose balls and 32 points. Harris is another type of player that is not afraid to get dirty in the corners and do what it takes to come out on top.
Joaquim, who played in 13 games last season for the Blackwolves, played his college ball in Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s University where he was coached by Taylor Wray, one of the toughest defenders to play the game.
Frank Brown played played for Georgia where he collected 10 points and then finished the season with the Rochester Knighthawks. It was in the finals that Brown turned some heads with his hard-nosed play.
Matt Rambo, another local product from Glenside, PA, played his lacrosse at the University of Maryland where he was part of the 2017 National Championship team. Rambo also won the Tewaaraton Trophy which is awarded to the nation’s best lacrosse player. Rambo is sure to get the opportunity to show his skills and grow even stronger should he decide to come to the NLL.
Davide DiRuscio, selected from the Bandits, sustained a knee injury in the second game of the season as he came in in relief for starter Alex Buque. DiRuscio was undrafted when he signed with the Bandits in 2015 and collected his first career win on January 31 vs Colorado. In his brief three season, and 31 seconds last season, DiRuscio is 7-9. His best season was in 2016 when he went 5-3 in 18 games. In 2017 he struggled as well as the Bandits as he went 1-6. In 2014 he was named MVP and top goaltender of the Canadian Lacrosse League.
Zac Reid, a defenseman, played in 17 games last season for the Bandits. In 45 total games Reid has seven goals and 10 assists while collecting 165 loose balls. In 2017 he flourished as a defenseman collecting four goals and five assists and 80 loose balls. Reid will be a very good addition to the defensive core for the Wings.