NLL: Philly wins holiday game over New York

Corey Small celebrates a goal during the Philadelphia Wings’ holiday game. (Photo credit: Philadelphia Wings/NLL)

The Philadelphia Wings had a little holiday magic at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night as Christmas came early in the form of a 14-12 win against the New York Riptide.

It was a hard toss up as to which Philadelphia player was the biggest present this game, but it came down to three: Goalie Zach Higgins’ ability to keep the team in the game while Kevin Crowley wowed the crowd with a beautiful behind-the-back shot that changed the momentum of the game and was number three on SportsCenter’s Friday Top 10. However, Corey Small’s presence was huge on the power play as he repeatedly found the back of the net and gave Philadelphia a much needed left offensive threat the team desperately needed.

Not to mention the ugly-sweater themed holiday jerseys the team donned.

Crowley ended the night with four goals and five assists while Small had five goals and three ssists. And while this game wasn’t clean, in Paul Day’s mind, a win is a win.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Day said. “In the first half we stuck to the game plan, and in the third we took some penalties that that we deserved. That really got us off track. And then in the fourth, I really thought Higgy was the difference for us.”

Also making a difference was the perfectly placed goal by Crowley that became the game winner. Crowley had a “beautiful backhanded goal” according to Day. That goal seemed to revitalize the team and help secure the win.

After the game, Day reflected on how much Crowley did as well as how much adding Small means to this team: “He’s been in the league a long time, a lot of experience wining and one of the best pure shooters in the game. We like the ball in his stick.”

Day went on to mention how much strength he can add to the left side.

And while this week’s stars were different from last week’s stars at Wells Fargo, this just means Philadelphia will grow stronger as they have a plethora of players who can find the goal.

Best jerseys ever? (Photo credit: Philadelphia Wings/NLL)

Crowley mentioned in the press conference that they “have a lot of guys that can score on offense and we’re in a really good spot. It can be anyone’s night and you saw that last week – a couple of guys went off.”

Finding the goal can be challenging in box – especially with a marquee player is out.

The Riptide, playing without Jeff Teat due to Covid-19 protocol, scored 12 goals. Despite strong efforts from Callum Crawford and Kieran McArdle, the Riptide could not match the intensity of the Wings. Both McArdle and Crawford showed that they could hold their own. Crawford had several strong goals while McArdle crashed the crease several times, including contact with the goalie that would land him in the penalty box. Crawford ended the night with a team-high four goals and McArdle had a team-high six assists.

For Corey Small, “playing here (in Philly) is an incredible experience. The energy in this arena is electric.  For me, coming into this league early, Philly was a fun place to play… The atmosphere is amazing… I’m just really lucky to be a part of this team. And I think we’ve got a great thing going, and if we can keep stringing it together, it is going to be a team that can go real deep this year.”

Philadelphia fans certainly hope so.

Many of the Wings’ Ontario contingent, like Matisz and Small, will be closer to home next weekend when the Wings take on the Rock at FirstOntario in Hamilton. The Riptide, now 0-3 after falling to Georgia on Sunday, will next face Buffalo in what is certain to be a physical game.