NLL: Wings fall to Bandits’ team in search of playoff berth

Chris Cloutier battles Dylan Evans. Philadelphia Wings vs Buffalo Bandits, March 8, 2019. (Photo credit: Tracey Happold-Brown)

Fraser nets four including overtime winner, Wings held scoreless for final 20:18

Friday night the Philadelphia Wings (2-9) fell to the division leading Buffalo Bandits (10-2) 12-11 in overtime in front of 10,805 fans at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

Chase Fraser’s fourth goal of the game at 5:18 of the overtime period was the game winner for the Bandits, who moved one step closer to becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth.

The Wings last played on February 17th, coming off the losing end of the home-and-home split with the New England Black Wolves.

Philadelphia came out with pep in their step to start the game as Kiel Matisz put the crowd on their feet with the opening goal. The Bandits would come back and not only take the momentum but take the lead by scoring twice in 47 seconds. However, that would be the final time the Bandits would lead until the end of the game when it counted the most.

Kevin Crowley would tie the game at the 10:15 mark of the first which was the start of a five-goal run for the Wings which included a power play goal from Blaze Riorden and a shorthanded marker by Justin Guterding, his first in the National Lacrosse League. Chase Fraser and Ethan O’Connor found the back of the net for Buffalo but the Wings led 6-4 at the half.

The offense for both teams put on a display of goal scoring in the third, combining for nine goals. Two of Philadelphia’ goals came from the stick of Frank Brown. Buffalo would spread it around getting goals from their big four: Shawn Evans, Dhane Smith, Corey Small and former Wing Chris Cloutier. Kevin Crowley scored with two seconds left in the third to give the Wings an 11-8 lead but that was the last time the Wings scored.

Ryan Wagner guards Shawn Evans. (Photo credit: Tracey Happold-Brown)

Cloutier started the Bandits’ comeback in the fourth at the 1:04 mark to bring them within two. For almost the next 11 minutes both teams applied pressure and the defense and goaltending stood tall, especially for Buffalo.

Chase Fraser put a shot past Doug Buchan then Corey Small tied the game with 1:07 remaining. In overtime, both teams had some great looks and opportunities to end the game on every possession.

The Wings, who have been in nearly every game this year, just couldn’t find enough in the gas tank for the final 15 plus minutes on this night.

“This isn’t school,” a frustrated Paul Day said. “I’m tired of talking about learning.”

During their previous games as the team struggled coach Day would state the team was “getting better every week.”

Although not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Wings sit five games out with seven remaining, five of which are on the road where they are winless, including the last three of the season.

Buffalo was led by Chase Fraser (4G), Dhane Smith and Thomas Hoggarth(1G/4A). Matt Vinc stopped 47 of 58 shots for the win.

The Wings’ offense was led by Kevin Crowley (2G/4A), Jordan Hall (1G/3A) and Frank Brown (2G). Buchan played well stopping 54 of 66 shots faced.

Philadelphia will now travel west to face the expansion San Diego Seals who currently are tied for first in the west at 6-4.