Tough Weekend Out West

The Philadelphia Wings played their second back-to-back set of the season over the weekend, taking a tour of Western Canada to visit Saskatchewan and Vancouver, but ran into a pair of high-powered offenses and came out on the short end of both contests, 16-11 in Saskatoon on Saturday and 19-12 in Vancouver on Sunday.  Matt Rambo continued his late-season surge with a 14-point weekend (7G, 7A) to move to second in the NLL among rookies in scoring, while Kevin Crowley had a 13-point trip (6G, 7A) and Isaiah Davis-Allen, playing his second and third games of the season, gobbled up 15 loose balls on the weekend. Meanwhile, Trevor Baptiste went 45-for-65 on faceoffs – including a dominating 30-for-34 on Sunday – to reach 332 faceoff wins on the year, putting him seven away from setting a new National Lacrosse League record heading into the final game of the season next Saturday at Georgia.

Saturday’s contest was a literal back-and-forth affair throughout the first half, as neither team led by more than a goal in the first two quarters. Rambo scored the Wings’ first two goals and completed the hat trick just 4:45 into the second quarter, while Crowley contributed a pair. Blaze Riorden also scored 35 seconds into the second quarter and Steph Charbonneau got in on the action with his eighth goal of the year, which is fifth among NLL defensemen, eighth among NLL rookies and five more than any rookie d-man in the league. Saskatchewan led 8-7 at halftime.

The Rush took the game’s first two-goal lead 26 seconds into the third quarter. But the Wings answered with three goals in less than four minutes – from Jordan Hall, Crowley, and Rambo – to sprint out to a 10-9 lead. Rambo scored again late in the third to give the Wings an 11-9 lead at the quarter break. But that was all the Wings would get on the night, as Saskatchewan scored seven times in the fourth quarter to generate the 16-11 final result.

The Wings then went into Vancouver and blew the doors off the Warriors’ crease, firing 73 shots on goal – the highest single-game total for any NLL contest this season. Unfortunately for the Wings, Warriors goaltender Aaron Bold picked Sunday to put forth the best performance in the league this season with 61 saves – also a new season high across the entire NLL – to backstop Vancouver to the win. Crowley led the Wings with 13 shots on goal and four other players had 11 – Rambo, Josh Currier, Vaughn Harris and Kiel Matisz. In addition to the solid second games for Rambo and Crowley, Matisz had a hat trick and Hall had a five-point afternoon with a goal and four assists.

Riorden opened the scoring just 17 seconds into the game, but Bold, who had averaged just over 20 saves per game in 14 appearances this season, made more than three times that many over the rest of the afternoon to keep the Wings at bay while Vancouver cashed in offensively. The Warriors scored nine times before the end of the opening quarter and after Crowley tallied 2:24 into the second, four more Vancouver goals made it 13-2 at the 2:06 mark of the third quarter. The Wings outscored the Warriors 10-6 the rest of the way from that point, with Crowley and Matisz both completing hat tricks and Josh Currier scoring the last two goals of the game in the final 1:18, but it wasn’t enough to make up the early deficit.

Doug Buchan played the majority of the weekend, making 32 saves on 47 shots Saturday and 27 saves on 42 shots Sunday. Gowan Abrams saw action in both contests – he stopped both shots he saw in 4:12 of play on Saturday, and made eight saves on 12 shots in 7:04 on Sunday.

The Wings will close out their inaugural NLL season next Saturday when they visit the Georgia Swarm.