NLL: Wings edge out Bandits 7-6

Bryce Sweeting battles Trevor Baptiste for the faceoff. Buffalo Bandits vs Philadelphia Wings at KeyBank Center, February 15, 2020. (Photo by Joe Hrycych)

Saturday night the Philadelphia Wings (5-3) shuffled their way to a 7-6 victory over their arch nemesis Buffalo Bandits (6-3) in front of 12,459 fans at KeyBank Center. Buffalo was without two big components of their offense in Dhane Smith and Chase Fraser.

Liam Patten, a second year defenseman with the Wings, started the ball rolling by scoring on transition and beating Matt Vinc. Garrett Billings would put the ball past Zach Higgins just 30 seconds later to tie the game, and Matt Rambo would do the same as the Wings would lead 2-1 after the first quarter.

J.P. Kealey tied the game for Buffalo at 3:53 of the second as the Buffalo offense went missing. The Wings went on a four-goal run, the last two on the power play for a 6-2 at the 13-minute mark of the third quarter. Corey Small finally ended the 25+ minute drought to cut the Wings’ lead in half 6-3 after three quarters.

After Brett Hickey scored the seventh Wings’ goal, Buffalo mounted an attack. Corey Small scored twice in 58 seconds giving him the hat trick on the evening. But the stingy Wings’ defense would keep the Bandits at a distance for nine more minutes. Josh Byrne would score his only goal of the night with the goaltender pulled at 13:24 and the Wings walked out of Buffalo with a huge one-goal victory on the road.

Philadelphia also played a very well disciplined game by allowing the Bandits just one power play opportunity (Illegal Substitution), while they went 2-3 on their power play opportunities.

Faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste was just that, winning 14 of 17 and being a thorn in the side of the Buffalo offense.

Buffalo’s limited offense was led by Corey Small (3G). Former Wing Chris Cloutier only collected one assist. Matt Vinc stopped 46 of 53 shots and played a very good game as well.

The Wings’ offense was led by Matt Rambo and Brett Hickey who each collected a pair of goals. Hickey also notched an assist. Kevin Crowley, Blaze Riorden and Liam Patten each found the net.

Zach Higgins (8.76 GAA), who was named first star, put in another unbelievable performance between the pipes stopping 44 of 50 shots. Higgins and the Wings’ defense gave the Bandit offense fits all night long by limiting the number of second chances by corralling the rebounds. Higgins also collected an assist on the night as well.

The Wings return home this weekend to face western division leading Saskatchewan Rush (5-2). Former Drexel University stars Ben MacIntosh (14G/8A) and Robert Church (10G/17A) return to Philadelphia and will try to escape with a win.