Game Preview: Wings at Desert Dogs - Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse
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Game Preview: Wings at Desert Dogs

PHILADELPHIA WINGS at LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGSFriday, February 16, 2024

The Philadelphia Wings visit the Las Vegas Desert Dogs tonight in their eighth game of the year and fourth on the road. The Wings are 2-5 on the season after a 15-14 overtime loss to Halifax back on February 2, their second consecutive one-goal defeat. The Wings are on the road for two in a row and will also be out in the western half of the league next time out when they visit the Calgary Roughnecks on Feb. 24. It’s the first of a home-and-home with Calgary, which will come to Philadelphia on March 2.

LAST TIME OUT

Saturday, February 2 – Halifax 15, Wings 14 (OT): For a second consecutive game, the Wings nearly completed an epic comeback but ended up one goal short, this game doing so in overtime against the Thunderbirds. The teams played a very close first half, with Philadelphia countering a couple Halifax runs to close within a goal at 6-5 at halftime. The scales then tipped the Thunderbirds’ way as they scored five times in the span of 2:09 early in the third quarter, turning that one-goal advantage into a 12-5 lead. Philadelphia then scored four in a row and nine of the game’s next 11 goals to claw all thew ay back to a 14-13 lead with 4:29 remaining in regulation. But Halifax got one to tie it and then Cody Jamieson scored a power-play goal 21 seconds into overtime. Mitch Jones had a goal and seven assists for the Wings to lead the way in scoring, while Joe Resetarits had two goals and four assists for six points and Ben McIntosh had a hat trick and pair of assists for a five-point contest. Blaze Riorden and Taggart Clark each had a pair of goals, while Scott Dominey picked up his first as a Wing and Sam LeClair, Taite Cattoni, and Marcus Minichiello also contributed with a goal apiece. Chad Du_on helped the cause with four assists. Zach Higgins absorbed the loss, making 50 saves on 63 shots faced.

 

VS. LAS VEGAS

This is the second game on record between the clubs, both of which have taken place here in Las Vegas. Philadelphia took home a 14-9 win in the second game of last season on January 6, 2023.

WING TIPS

The 67 shots fired by Halifax on Wings goaltender Zach Higgins on Dec. 29 set a franchise record, topping the 66 shots on goal by Buffalo on March 8, 2019. The 52 saves came up three short of Higgins’ franchise record of 55 that he’s done twice before, with the last such occasion coming on 3/6/23 vs. Toronto. It’s tied for the highest single-season save total of any NLL goalie so far this season; Higgins made 50 saves last seek against the Thunderbirds and also has a pair of 48-save games.

Ben McIntosh has 13 points in his last two games, which is the most he’s had in a two-game stretch since March of last season. The eight-point contest two games ago tied his single-game high for points as a member of the Wings (4G/4A, 3/4/23 vs NY) and set a new single-game high for assists in his time with the club. McIntosh has appeared in 41 of a possible 43 games as a Wing and has at least a point in 40 of those contests.

Mitch Jones was held without a goal on Jan. 27 vs. San Diego, marking the first time that had happened since he joined the Wings. Philadelphia acquired Jones from Vancouver on Jan. 31, 2023 and he made his debut four days later on Feb. 4. Jones has recorded at least four points in all 19 games he’s played with the Wings and had recorded at least one goal in 17 straight until that contest. He got back in the goal column with a tally to go along with seven assists in the last contest against Halifax.

The Wings signed Nick Rowlett on January 10 to take over the team’s faceoff duties and he made his debut Jan. 27 vs. San Diego, going 12-for-24 against Trevor Baptiste, the team’s previous faceoff man who departed in an offseason trade. Rowlett has gone 16- for-40 in his first two games, which happened to come against arguably the two best faceoff guys in the world, Baptiste and Halifax’s Jake Withers. But that 40 percent rate marks a notable improvement for the Wings, who had won just over 19 percent of all faceoffs over the first five games of the season before Rowlett’s arrival.

Philadelphia has dealt with the injury bug this season, and still awaits the return of Mitch Armstrong from an upper body injury sustained Dec. 29 at Halifax. Holden Cattoni and Blaze Riorden each missed multiple games in December with upper body injuries, but both returned to the lineup on January 7. The Wings also went without Sam LeClair and Marcus Minichiello on January 7 due to injuries.

The Wings acquired defenseman Jordan Stouros from Colorado in exchange for a 2025 third-round pick to help bolster the back end in Armstrong’s absence. Stouros is in his third NLL season after being drafted in the second round by Buffalo in 2020; he appeared in 10 games for the Bandits in 2022 and 13 for Rochester last year. Stouros won four consecutive Mann Cups from 2017-2022 playing for Paul Day’s Peterborough Lakers.

Also with those absences, spots opened up for some of the team’s young talent to step in. Taggart Clark made his NLL debut in Week 2 and scored a goal in Week 3 against his father, Albany head coach Glenn Clark, before picking up his first NLL hat trick on Jan. 7. Clark attended Robert Morris University and was the Wings’ first-round selection (23rd overall) in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft.

The Wings also signed forward Tanner Buck on December 8 and he made his Wings debut on Dec. 16 vs. Albany due to the absences on the left side. Buck signed with Albany in the offseason but was released during training camp. A fourth-round pick of Georgia in 2020, Buck appeared in two games with the Swarm in 2022, picking up two goals and an assist, and appeared in one game with no points last season. Buck has extensive indoor experience in Canada and most recently put up 70 points (28G, 42A) in 20 games last summer in MSL Sr. A, a league full of NLL players.

And then there’s Jack Jasinski, an Ohio State product who appeared in two games for Panther City in 2022 but did not play last year and earned a training camp invite at Philadelphia’s open tryout this past summer. He played his way onto the roster and then made his debut Dec. 29 in grand fashion, scoring the overtime winner in Halifax.

Joe Resetarits became the NLL’s all-time leading scorer among American-born players Dec. 29 when he passed Casey Powell with his 675th career point. Powell played 11 seasons in the NLL with Rochester, Anaheim, New York/Orlando, Boston and Colorado. Resetarits is also in his 11th season and his second with Philadelphia.

Sam LeClair had a four-point game Dec. 29 vs. Halifax (2G, 2A), his best as a Wing. LeClair has eight goals and six assists for 14 points in six games this year and has at least a point in every game so far. He had 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in 17 games last season.

UPCOMING MILESTONES

Ben McIntosh needs seven goals to reach 300 in his career. Joe Resetarits needs eight points to reach 700 in his career.

ON THE BENCH

Head Coach and General Manager Paul Day returns for his fifth season of play, but his seventh overall season in his role with the club. He was originally hired in 2017 following the purchase of the franchise by Comcast Spectacor and spent the rest of the 2017-18 season preparing for the expansion draft, and also remained with the franchise during the league’s COVID pause from 2020-21. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2021 that runs through the 2023-24 season. Day was honored following the shortened 2019-20 season with the prestigious Les Bartley Award, which recognizes the National Lacrosse League’s Head Coach of the Year, and was also named General Manager of the Year. The Wings had improved from a 4-14 inaugural season to a record of 8-6 when the campaign was halted in March 2020.

Jeff McComb returns for his second season as the Wings’ offensive coordinator. McComb had been with the Saskatchewan Rush since 2014, where he coached Wings forward Ben McIntosh for five seasons. He became the head coach in 2020, although he didn’t get to take the bench in the role until the start of the 2021-22 season. During his run with the Rush, he helped the franchise to three championships as part of four consecutive appearances in the NLL Finals.

Ian Rubel also returns to his defensive coordinator role, which he’s held since the franchise returned to the floor in 2018. Rubel’s playing career included time with the Columbus Landsharks, Toronto Rock, Minnesota Swarm and the Rochester Knighthawks. With the Toronto Rock, Rubel played on three championship teams; 2002, 2003, and 2005. Along the way he also represented Canada in a Heritage Cup game.

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