NLL: Wings continue win streak in home opener

Philadelphia’s Trevor Baptiste knocks Vancouver’s Owen Barker to the ground. (Photo credit: Laura Kupsey)

Friday night the Philadelphia Wings (3-1) returned home and put an 18-10 beat down on the Vancouver Warriors (1-4) in front of 9,676 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. After starting the season on the road for the first three contests the Wings were happy to come home for some good home cooking.

After finishing 4-14 last season the Wings came out to show the last two weeks weren’t a fluke. Kevin Crowley and Brett Hickey scored 43 seconds apart to get the Wings off to a quick two-goal lead. But the Warriors bounced back at 9:35 when Riley Loewen would cut the lead in half and Jordan Mc Bride would tie the game 1:41 later. That would be the closest the Warriors would get in the game.

As the second quarter started, so did the Wings’ offense. Trevor Baptiste would bring the fans to their feet within the first minute as he beat Aaron Bold for his fourth goal on the young season. Blaze Riorden and Josh Currier, with a pair, would follow to open a four-goal lead. If Vancouver scored, the Wings kept them from a run as they would reply with two or more goals each time. Joel McCready took a crosschecking penalty with 18 seconds left in the half and Hickey was able to capitalize before the half was out for a 9-5 lead.

The third quarter was even more devastating. With the Wings up 12-6, Kevin Crowley scored his 300th career goal at 10:23, reaching behind his head with one hand to catch a pass in full stride before transferring to his forehand to beat Eric Penney. The goal had the fans on their feet in amazement. The roar continued as eight seconds later, Trevor Baptiste scored immediately off the faceoff. Currier netted his fourth of the night at 11:51 to extend the Wings’ lead to 15-6. All of these goals were shorthanded.

Philadelphia’s Blaze Riorden celebrates a goal. (Photo credit: Laura Kupsey)

Vancouver would score the final goal of the quarter and the first two of the fourth to cut the lead to six as fans started to fear that infamous bad quarter, but they needn’t have worried on this night. Crowley and Steph Charbonneau would stop the run to go back up 17-9. The teams would exchange goals and the Wings won 18-10.

Zach Higgins turned in another outstanding performance, limiting the opponent to 10 goals and stopping 40 of 50 shots faced on the night. So far this season Higgins is 3-1 with a 10.30 GAA and .796 save percentage.

Vancouver switched goalies twice in this game. Eric Penney (32:54) stopped 27 of 37 shots for the loss and Aaron Bold (27:06) stopped 10 of 18.

Josh Currier (4G/4A), Blaze Riorden (3G/5A) and Matt Rambo (6A) led the offense. Currier’s eight points was a career-best. Kevin Crowley and Brett Hickey each recorded hat tricks. Cory Vitarelli and Trevor Baptiste scored twice. Baptiste was also dominant on faceoffs winning 27 of 31.

Philadelphia outshot Vancouver 55-50 and picked up 93 loose balls to 66. On special teams the Wings went 1-1 on the man advantage with three shorthanded goals, while Vancouver was 3-7 on the man up.

Vancouver next returns home to face Colorado in an important divisional game on Friday.

Philadelphia plays twice next weekend. Saturday night they visit Mohegan Sun to face the New England Blackwolves (3-0), then return home for a Sunday night game versus the new Rochester Knighthawks (0-4) in their only meeting of the season. Rochester plays at home Saturday night versus Calgary.

Tickets for all remaining Wings home games are available at