As we start year 27 of the N.L.L. The Philadelphia Wings are the oldest franchise in the NLL. The league started as Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League March 13 1986, incorporated by Russ Cline & Chris Fritz began play in 1987. In 1989 the league changed names to the MILL (Major Indoor Lacrosse League) then in 1998 the N.L.L was formed.
The Wings are the only team left of the original 4 (New Jersey Saints, Baltimore Thunder, and Washington Wave) to have stayed in the same city, and keep the same name. There only “move” was across the parking lot to start the 1997 season, into the Wells Fargo Center, formerly CoreStates Center 1986-1998, First Union Center (1998-2003, or(F.U. Center for us Philly fans) and Wachovia Center 2003-2010.
The Philadelphia Wings enter year 27 of the NLL with one goal. To win the Champions Cup!! Head Coach/GM Johnny Mouradian has built champions in Toronto, Buffalo and Washington, and hopes to do the same here in Philadelphia. 2012 saw the Wings march back into the playoffs after missing the playoffs the last 3 seasons. The Wings fell to the champions to be Rochester Knighthawks 14-13 in quarter final action. But most fans feel the 2012 team should have won the east. After starting 7-4 the Wings dropped there last 5 regular season games to finish 7-9 and finish in 3rd in the east along with the Knighthawks & Bandits.
The Wings have an overall record of 168-149 (98-62 Home) (72-87 Road). In the early years from 1987-2001 when the Wings won 6 championships in 9 appearances they where 51-20 at home, and any team coming into “The Jungle” would be lucky to come out with a win. But since 2001, the Wings are 47-42 at home, and “The Jungle” has become more of a stroll in a park for opponents. So fans ask, do the Wings have the talent? Do they have the desire? Do they have the fire? These are very vital components in the drive to the Champions Cup.
The time is now for the Wings not only to win and put fear back into the opponents who step onto the floor in Philadelphia, but also to win back the fan base as attendance numbers have dropped.
Coming into this season the Wings have gone out and added some size and strength in signing big forward Kevin Ross from the Minnesota Swarm. When I spoke with Kevin after the signing, he stated his job is to crash the middle, which he is not afraid to do, and create space for players like Dawson and Crowley can move inside. His goal, to help bring a title back to Philly and the fans. The Wings then went out and obtained Kevin Buchanan from the Bandits in which the Wings sent Mike Hominuck & David Brock to Buffalo. Buchanan has a rifle of a shot from the outside, and when with DDD in Boston he had the best year of his young career. Hopefully reuniting with Dan will have the same outcome.
Over the summer backup goaltender Steve Fryer saw action with the 2 time WLA Champion Langley Thunder of the WLA and was able to get more seasoned as training camp approaches. From what I seen over the summer Fryer has drastically improved his game, and when placed into action he will help prove that the Wings have a solid 1-2 goalie team.
The Philadelphia Wings added defenders Michael Manley, C.J. Costabile and Kevin Randall in the 2012 N.L.L.entry draft.
With their first selection in the draft at number 32 overall, the Wings selected Manley out of Duke University. Last season Manley was named to the USILA All-America second team and led Duke with 27 forced turnovers and also recovered 52 loose balls. He added two goals and two assists from his defensive post.
In round 5, the Wings picked C.J.Costabile(39th), Costabile was a midfielder at Duke University and figures to bolster the defense in the upcoming 2013 season. In 2012 Costabile was voted to the USIL A All-America first team, was an All-ACC selection and was also the ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Blue Devils in 2012 with a team-high 144 loose balls.
Also in round 5, (41st ) overall the Wings selected Kevin Randall, Randall was one of three captains for Notre Dame in 2012 and started each game during his final two years on the team. Randall also plays for the MLL’s Charlotte Hounds.
With the depth of this year’s draft, we may see some veterans switching teams, so it may help the Wings and other teams as players may get a new lease on a career. With that being said, the players on the roster now, better come to camp hungrier then usual.
With the talent of Dangerous Dan Dawson, Brodie Merrill, Kevin Crowley, who had a fantastic rookie season, Brandon Miller, Mundorf, Westevelt, etc..