NLL: Wings fly past Black Wolves in first game of home-and-home

New England Black Wolves @ Philadelphia Wings, February 18, 2019. (Photo credit: Tracey Happold-Brown)

Perhaps it was the memories of lacrosse years past when the Philadelphia Wings did not have a team after Mike French moved the organization to New England, but the Wings played with a chip on their shoulders Saturday night, and it resulted in a 14-10 win over the Black Wolves.

Philadelphia jumped on the board early with a goal from Matt Rambo that was assisted by the newly called up Justin Guterding. Jordan Hall added another shortly thereafter. Stephan Leblanc came roaring back on a power play, however, Philadelphia answered 31 seconds later with a goal from Kevin Crowley that was assisted by Hall. Vaughn Harris made it 4-1 for Philly at the end of the first.

New England came howling back in the second quarter as the game between the new rivals grew more physical. Leblanc scored just 45 seconds into the quarter and New England went on the prowl outscoring Philadelphia 5-4.

The teams evened their play in a slow scoring third quarter with both teams netting two goals.

Quarter four saw Philadelphia come flying back as the Wings outscored the Black Wolves 4-2 to pick up their second win of the season.

“It was an all-around team effort from our defense,” winning goaltender Doug Buchan said. “They started, in the first five minutes of the game, physical. All their guys were all over the ground right off the bat. And then it led to the second quarter where they weren’t even coming toward the middle of the floor, which is nice to see.”

New England Black Wolves @ Philadelphia Wings, February 18, 2019. (Photo credit: Tracey Happold-Brown)

Leading the scoring for the Black Wolves was Leblanc with three goals and four assists. Finishing right behind him with one goal and five assists was Callum Crawford. Also adding a hat trick for New England was Dereck Downs.

Philadelphia prevailed in the end. Kevin Crowley had the most goals for Philadelphia against his former teammates, with four goals. He looked much stronger than the last time he played where he still appeared to be adjusting to his new team. Jordan Hall had one goal and five assists. Matt Rambo also contributed a hat trick despite appearing to get his fair share of off-ball hits.

Statistically, the Wings had more shots on goal than New England. They also scooped up more loose balls. Trevor Baptiste dominated on faceoffs just as the Wings have come to expect this season.

The real reason for the win? They played with more discipline especially during several points in the game where dead-ball antics could have resulted in major penalties for the Wings.

Rambo reflected on this during the press conference.

“I’m not a discipline guy so I’ve got to give it to the defense and some of the other guys. There was a scrum and they didn’t do anything stupid back,” he said. “If we retaliate and get the penalty then we’re not going to be man up. It’s not going to help us at the end.”

And this game was quite physical as the Wings appeared to hit just as much as they did during the Toronto game earlier this season. Discipline ultimately prevailed in the end as the Wings were able to compose themselves and pull off the victory.

What will be particularly interesting to see is how both teams will rebound in their next games. Many think the elevated physical play will continue into future game as a new rivalry was created last night between the old Philadelphia Wings and the new Philadelphia Wings.