WHAT: Philadelphia Wings at San Diego Seals – 2022 NLL Quarterfinals
WHEN: Saturday, May 7th – 10:00 PM
TV: CW Philly (Comcast #811, Verizon #516, DISH & DIRECTV #57)
STREAM ONLINE: ESPN+
The Philadelphia Wings will face the San Diego Seals in the quarterfinals of the 2022 NLL Playoffs. The quarterfinal round is a one-game, single-elimination round, with the winner of the game moving on to the best-of-three NLL Conference Finals.
The Wings are a member of the NLL’s East Conference but will play the playoffs in the West Conference. The NLL’s playoff structure for 2022 guaranteed spots to the top four teams in the East Conference and the top three teams in the West Conference. The final playoff slot in the West Conference was a wild-card spot granted to the club with the highest winning percentage among the remaining seven teams.
The Wings secured that wild-card spot with a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory over the Georgia Swarm on Saturday night, which was their fifth overtime win of the year. The results of the final weekend of the season saw Albany, Georgia and Philadelphia finish with identical 9-9 records; the Wings went into the playoffs ahead of Georgia due to their 3-0 record against the Swarm this season, which was the first tiebreaker.
San Diego was one of two West Conference teams the Wings played during the regular season. On April 8, the Wings picked up their fourth overtime win of the season when Ben McIntosh finished a thrilling back-and-forth affair with a goal 31 seconds into the extra session. San Diego had led the game by as much as four goals in the first half before the Wings took a 9-7 lead early in the second half after completing a 6-0 run. More back-and-forth lacrosse ensued, as the Seals pulled back ahead with three goals only to see the Wings do the same and restore a 12-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. But Zach Greer scored twice in the span of 39 seconds to knot the score and force extra time, setting up McIntosh’s heroics.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO:
San Diego joined the NLL in 2018 at the same time as the current iteration of the Philadelphia Wings. They were 10-8 in their first season and 6-6 when the 2020 season concluded early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Seals earned the first seed in the West also via tiebreaker, as all three West Conference teams – San Diego, Calgary and Colorado – finished with identical 10-8 records.
San Diego dropped its first game of the season to Vancouver but went on to win their next six in a row; after a loss to Albany, they won three more contests to go to 9-2 on the year. But the Seals then hit a six-game slide, which included the loss to Philadelphia. Whereas the conference title once looked nearly automatic, San Diego needed a win over Vancouver and help from Calgary, which beat Colorado, to take the top seed.
Wesley Berg led San Diego in scoring with 34 goals and 50 assists for 84 points. Berg is in his fourth NLL season and second with San Diego; he was scoring on a similar pace when the 2020 season ended early, with 19 goals and 39 assists for 58 points in 12 games. Berg’s 2022 season included an eight-poitn game at Calgary on Dec. 17 and a seven-point game vs. Saskatchewan on March 11.
Back in 2018, San Diego won a coin toss that gave them the first pick in that year’s NLL Entry Draft, while the Wings selected second. The Seals used that pick to select Austin Staats, who became the 2019 NLL Rookie of the Year and was San Diego’s leading goal scorer this year with 37 tallies. Staats added 42 assists for a total of 79 points, which ranked second on the team in scoring.
Dane Dobbie was third on the Seals in scoring with 34 goals and 40 assists for 74 points. Dobbie joined San Diego this season after playing 13 years in Calgary, where he won two NLL championships, including the league’s most recent one in 2019. In that season, Dobbie was named the NLL’s most valuable player after leading the league with 115 points.
Jeremy Noble led the Seals with 54 assists on the season and added 16 goals for 70 points, ranking him fourth on the roster in overall scoring. Noble is in his sixth NLL season and second with San Diego. He was a second-overall pick of Colorado in 2014.
The above-mentioned group gives the Seals four players at 70 points or better, creating a formidable offense that the Wings will have to deal with. By comparison, Kevin Crowley was the only player on the Wings to cross the 70-point barrier this season.
The above-mentioned coin toss that allowed San Diego to select Staats also gave the Wings the first selection in the Expansion Draft, which they used to select Brett Hickey. Hickey is now a member of the Seals, having been traded there by the Wings at this year’s trade deadline in exchange for a second-round pick in 2024. Hickey has eight goals and six assists for 14 points in seven games for the Seals since the trade. He had posted 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points in 12 games with the Wings, including an overtime game-winner vs. Georgia back in January – one of the goals that enabled the Wings to edge out the Swarm for this wild-card spot.
Some other notes on the Seals:
- San Diego was fourth in the NLL on the power play at 48.1 percent, while its penalty kill ranked 10th at 53.3 percent.
- The Seals gave up just 183 goals this year for an average of 10.17 per game, which was the second fewest in the league. They were fifth in goals scored at 202, for an average of 11.22 per game.
- Goaltender Frank Scigliano was second in the league with a 9.78 GAA.
- Tre Leclaire was tied for fifth among NLL rookies in scoring with 15 goals and 32 assists for 47 points, while Mac O’Keefe was 15th in that group with 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points.
It is going to be a great matchup for the Wings and should be a fun game to watch. Be sure to tune in at 10PM on Saturday to watch!