The Philadelphia Wings welcome in the New York Riptide in
their seventh game of the season and third at home. The Wings are 4-2 on the year and 2-0 at the Wells Fargo Center after
a 12-4 win over the Rochester Knighthawks last Sunday night. Tonight’s game is the NLL Game of the Week and it offers the Wings an opportunity to pull back within a half-game of first- place New England, which is in action on Sunday. The Wings are looking for their second win of the season over New York after topping the Riptide 15-12 on the road back on January 4. This is the second of three consecutive home games for the Wings, who will host Georgia on January 31.
Friday, January 24, 2020 – Wings 12, Rochester 4 at Wells Fargo Center: A steady stream of power play opportunities allowed the Wings to steadily pull away from the Knighthawks
in a physical affair at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wings were 5-for-14 on the power play over the entire five-game season
to this point, but on this night, they capitalized on seven of 14 man-up situations to put the game out of reach. Brett Hickey scored four goals on eight shots and three other Wings had multi-goal games, while Zach Higgins and the Wings defense kept the Knighthawks off the board for almost two full quarters between their second and third goals. The teams played to a 3-2 score through the 8:34 mark of the second quarter, but
the Wings then scored the next nine goals, the first three of which all came on the power play in the final 4:57 of the second quarter. They scored the only two goals of the third quarter to enter the fourth with an 8-2 lead, and then outscored Rochester 4-2 in the fourth quarter including one of two penalty shots
that were awarded due to multiple minor penalties. The teams combined for 108 penalty minutes – 76 to Rochester and 32
to Philadelphia – most of which appened in the fourth quarter. Matt Rambo had five assists on the night to lead the Wings
in that category, while Cory Vitarelli had two goals and three assists for five points while firing 14 shots; both his goals came on the power play, consecutively, during the second-quarter scoring spree. Crowley took 11 shots and finished with four points (2G, 2A), as did Matisz, while also gathering 16 loose balls. Baptiste was 15-for-20 on faceoffs and picked up 10 loose balls while also posting a goal and an assist. Higgins made 41 saves to drop his goals-against average to 8.76 on the season, which is fifth-best in the NLL among goaltenders who have played at least 100 minutes. Overall, the defense allowed 14 shots to the Knighthawks in the first quarter and only 23 shots over the final three. The Wings outshot Rochester 66-45 and grabbed 80 loose balls to their 50.
LAST GAME VS. NEW YORK
Saturday, January 4, 2020 – Wings 15, New York 12 at NYCB Live: The Wings withstood a late surge from the New York Riptide before pulling back away from a tie game and taking an eventual 15-12 victory. Josh Currier and Brett Hickey each had hat tricks, while Kevin Crowley had a goal and six assists to once again pace his team in scoring. Higgins picked up the win with 37 saves on 49 New York shots. Matt Rambo had a six-point night on a goal and five assists, Hickey (3G, 1A) and Kiel Matisz (2G, 2A) each had four-point nights and several other players contributed to the offensive cause.
At 4-2 on the season, the Wings have already equaled their win total from their entire inaugural season last year, when they were 4-14. They were 0-6 at this point last season. The Wings have scored 66 goals – actually one fewer than the 67 they scored through six games last year – but they have allowed 53, which is 28 fewer than the 81 they allowed through the first six games of last season. The Wings have taken 41 fewer penalty minutes than they had this time a year ago, and their power play has improved from 22.7 percent through six games of 2019 to 42.9 percent through six games of 2020.
The Wings continue to dominate the second quarter of games this season. They have outscored the opposition 24-12 in second quarters this year. The 24-goal total and the plus-12 goal differential are both the largest for any team in any one quarter in the league so far this season. The Wings are also outshooting opponents 103-71 in the second quarter, with the 103 shots and the plus-32 shot differential also being league highs. The 26 shots the Wings had in the second quarter last week mark a season high in the NLL for second-quarter shots.
At 8.8 goals allowed per game (53 in six contests), the Wings are allowing the fourth-fewest goals on average in the league. They are allowing the third-fewest shots on average, at 50.2 per game (301 in six games). Zach Higgins has a 8.77 goals-against average and an .824 save percentage, both of which are fourth-best in the NLL.
Kevin Crowley has 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points through six games. He is tied for third in the NLL in scoring and is one of just seven players in the league to eclipse the 30-point mark to this point. Crowley is fifth in the league with 85 shots; his shooting percentage of 0.141 is the highest among the top 10 players in the shots category.
Kiel Matisz continues to lead all NLL defense/transition players in scoring with five goals and 11 assists for 16 points, and also continues to lead that group in shots on goal with 36. He has 52 loose balls on the season, which is fifth in the NLL and third among players who don’t take faceoffs. Matisz has 36 shots on the season and has put 34 of them on goal, which is among the best accuracy percentages in the league for players with more than 30 shots on the season.
Trevor Baptiste is 105-for-140 (75 pct) at the faceoff dot this season. He leads the league in both faceoff wins and in loose balls (71). Baptiste has scored six goals already this season after going all of last year without
a tally; he’s scored those six goals on just 12 shots for a .500 shooting percentage. He leads all defense & transition players in goals on the season.
Steph Charbonneau is third on the Wings in loose balls at 33 and leads the team with six caused turnovers.