By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — The Philadelphia Wings returned to the National Lacrosse League on Saturday afternoon. However, things did not work out like they had hoped.
The Buffalo Bandits defeated the Wings, 17-15, at the Wells Fargo Center. There were 11,023 fans in attendance for the game.
The Wings returned for the first time since the 2014 season. This new team is owned by Comcast Spectacor and not a private owner, like in the past, who decided to move the old team to Connecticut to become the New England Black Wolves.
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“For our first foray into this, I thought it was good,” Wings head coach Paul Day said. “I thought it was a good game. Buffalo is one of the teams to beat in the league and especially in the East. We’re a very young team and we’ve made some young mistakes. It’s a great learning experience for us. It was a great start. Great fan support, as usual, and it’s going to get better. Obviously, we’re not happy with the result, but we’re happy with the journey so far.”
Corey Small led the Bandits with five goals. He also had one assist and 11 shots.
Thomas Hoggarth added three goals and two assists on eight shots. Shawn Evans, Steve Priolo, and Dhane Smith had two goals each.
Jordan Durston, Josh Byrne, and Bryce Sweeting scored one goal each.
Josh Currier led the Wings with three goals and two PIM. He also had 11 shots.
Brett Hickey, Jordan Hall, and Chris Cloutier also scored two goals each. Frank Brown, Anthony Joaquim, Vaughn Harris, Steph Charbonneau, Liam Patten, and Matt Rambo had a goal each.
Harris scored the first goal in the rebirth of the Wings. Rambo is the only Philadelphia area native on the team.
Currier and Hickey scored back-to-back goals to tie the game. The Bandits then scored two goals in the final minute and five seconds to seal the victory.
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Smith put the Bandits up 14-12 before Patten scored a breakaway goal to cut the lead to 14-13. Hoggarth put Buffalo then up two with a goal at 5:16 in the fourth quarter to make it 15-13.
The Bandits then scored three straight goals to go up 13-9. Philadelphia then rebounded with four straight goals, including a goal by Rambo to begin the streak. The Wings cut the lead to 13-12.
“I was coming up top and I saw the underneath so I went for it,” Rambo said. “Sometimes the ball slips in, so it was pretty cool to have my first goal here in Philadelphia. It was a great moment for me, especially growing up here and being a fan of all Philly sports. It was awesome.”
Currier then scored to make it 9-7. Bandits’ Priolo increased the team back to three goals with a 10-7 mark. Joaquim and Hickey — who was the Wings’ top pick in the expansion draft — scored back-to-back goals to make it 10-9.
Small scored three of the next four goals. Hall cut the team to 7-6 before Small scored back-to-back goals.
Hall cut the lead to 6-5 as he scored his first goal back with the franchise.
Buffalo’s Smith made it 4-2. Cloutier and Charbonneau scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at 4. The Bandits responded with two straight goals to make it 6-4 behind goals by Byrne and Hoggarth.
The Bandits jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Harris cut the lead to 3-1 in the Wings rebirth. Currier then made it 3-2.
“I didn’t play my best and we can play better,” Rambo said. “We didn’t get the win and that’s all that matters collectively. It’s all about the team, as this is a team sport. I think we all know we can play better, as this was our first game and as an expansion team, too. We have some work to do in the next week or two with our chemistry.”
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