2019 Season in Review
Points – 82 – Kevin Crowley/Kiel Matisz
Goals – 35 – Kevin Crowley
Assist – 55 – Kiel Matisz
Loose Balls – 179 – Trevor Baptiste
The Philadelphia Wings’ first season back in the City of Brotherly Love was a rough but growing one for the new franchise. The team finished with a 4-14 record. Eight of the losses were by two goals or fewer, and the team was 1-2 in overtime.
Brett Hickey, selected first overall in the expansion draft, was lost for the season after breaking his foot. The Wings then traded a first-round pick to bring back fan favourite Kevin Crowley, but it didn’t translate into enough wins to make a playoff run.
2020 Season Outlook
Losing Jordan Hall will be big but coming back will be Kevin Crowley who led the team in goals with 35 last season. Also back are Matt Rambo, Blaze Riorden, Josh Currier and Hickey. Additions include NLL veteran Cory Vitarelli and Kevin Buchanan. Rambo and Riorden are coming off a busy summer from playing in the PLL and the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, while Currier and Vitarelli won a third consecutive Canadian national championship with the Peterborough Lakers.
The Wings’ offense will obviously be run through Hickey and Crowley. With Hickey back and healthy this offense has the chance to be dangerous this year. Riorden, Rambo and Vitarelli with their size with be tough to move down low, Buchanan will definitely be tough in the middle, and Crowley, Hickey and Currier will have those missiles from the outside.
Trevor Baptiste, Isaiah Davis-Allen and Kiel Matisz all return. Baptiste, the NLL record holder for faceoff wins in a season, will be back on the draws, and after his showing in the WILC expect him to be out on the floor more on transition. Davis-Allen takes a spot on the active roster from the practice squad. With Davis-Allen’s speed and ball handling, the Wings should have minimal problems getting the ball into the offensive zone. Matisz returns on transition, but look for him to be more an offensive power as his 55 assists led the team, and his 82 points tied for the team lead with Kevin Crowley.
Liam Patten, Steph Charbonneau, Anthony Joaquim, Liam Byrnes and Ryan Wagner return on the back line and with a year under their belts for some and with the additions of Ian Llord (Colorado), Nick Finlay (Saskatchewan) and draft picks Alex Pace and Nate Wade should give the defense a better showing this season. Llord, a seasoned veteran, will be a leader on defense and be looked at to teach the young defensemen.
This was an area that was up and down more than an elevator at times. Doug Buchan started game one and was off his game and Davide DiRuscio (1-3) relieved him and played great in the second half. But in game two, DiRuscio started until he was pulled for Buchan, who ended up seeing the bulk of the minutes in goal. Gowah Abrams (1-0) was brought in for the final six games after DiRuscio was lost for the season.
This season Zach Higgins and former Wing and fan favourite Brandon Miller will man the pipes. Higgins is entering his eighth season in the NLL, though it’s been awhile since he’s played the starter role. He has an 11-25 record with a 12.52 GAA. This summer he was between the pipes for Team Israel in the WILC and played very well.
Brandon Miller returns to Philadelphia after spending a few seasons in Toronto and taking last season off to work as Toronto’s goalie coach. Miller will enter his 19th season with a 56-81 record and a 12.11 GAA. Miller seems to be in the best shape of his career. With the youth of Higgins (2051 minutes in seven seasons) and the experience of Miller, this goaltending duo will be a very big improvement from last season.
2020 Prediction: Record 9-9
This team will definitely be stronger than last season all around. With the realignment of the divisions, the Black Wolves would seem to be the only team in the way of second place for this team. With a healthy offense, and more consistent goaltending the Wings could have a shot at a playoff spot.