A steady stream of power play opportunities allowed the Philadelphia Wings to steadily pull away from the Rochester Knighthawks in a physical affair on Sunday night 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 12 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.
Despite a total of 23 shots in the first period – 14 for the wings and nine for Rochester – there was only one goal, a transition tally from Trevor Baptiste. After the teams traded goals early in the second period, with one from Holden Cattoni at the 2:53 mark and one from Kiel Matisz at 3:44, Kevin Crowley made it a 3-1 lead at 6:37 on Philadelphia’s first power play goal, only to see Sean Evans regain the tally on a Rochester power play at 8:34.
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, and scored the only two goals of the third quarter to enter the fourth with an 8-2 lead. With two Rochester players already in the box 52 seconds into the final frame, the Knighthawks were called for two concurrent roughing minors, giving the Wings two penalty shots. Kevin Crowley converted the first for his second goal of the game, while Kiel Matisz was unsuccessful in his bid for a third goal of the night. Hickey completed his hat trick with consecutive goals at 2:39 and 4:14; 20 seconds later, Curtis Knight finally returned the Knighthawks to the goal column at 4:34 of the period. Hickey finished off his night with his fourth at the 8:05 mark, and Phil Caputo closed out the scoring at 8:51. That didn’t mean the evening’s festivities were over, as various exchanges of pleasantries resulted in a total of 57 penalty minutes handed out in the final 4:06 of the contest.
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; both goals came on the power play, consecutively, during the second-quarter scoring spree. Crowley finished with four points (2G, 2A), as did Matisz, while also gathering 15 loose balls. Baptiste was 15-for-20 on faceoffs and picked up 11 loose balls while also posting a goal and an assist. Higgins made 37 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 60-41 and grabbed 72 loose balls to their 45.
The Wings improve to 4-2 on the season and 2-0 at home with the win, and stay within a game of the New England Black Wolves in the battle for the top spot in the East Division. Next up are the New York Riptide, who come in for an East Division battle next Friday, January 24 at 7:00. Tickets for that and all Wings home games are available at WingsLAX.com.
Game Highlight Melt
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