The Philadelphia Wings won their second straight road game, defeating the Buffalo Bandits by a score of 16-13 on Saturday night in front of 7,403 at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Jeff Ratcliffe led the Wings goal scorers with four, while Jason Crosbie also scored four goals for the Bandits. Philadelphia improves to 2-0, while the Bandits drop to 1-1.
Forward Jeff Ratcliffe powered the Wings offense with a four-goal performance while rookie Ryan Ward recorded his first NLL hat-trick. The Wings (2-0) remain undefeated as they head back to Philadelphia to open the home portion of their 2004 campaign next Saurday, January 17 vs. the Rochester Knighthawks at the Wachovia Center at 8p.m.
"We built up a great lead in the first quarter and took advantage of a lot of power play opportunities, but losing (Tom) Marechek in the first half definitely hurt us," said Wings' Head Coach Adam Mueller. "I was proud of the way our offense pulled together in the fourth quarter to keep us on top."
The Wings started off strong with three straight goals by Jeff Ratcliffe, Tom Marechek, and Ryan Ward respectively. Buffalo's Jason Crosbie scored on a power play goal to get Buffalo on the board at 7:24. The Wings added another three goals scored by Keith Cromwell, Ward, and rookie Thomas Hajek. Mark Steenhuis of the Bandits scored the last goal of the quarter at 13:26. After a first quarter filled with 53 minutes in penalties the Wings led at the end of the first quarter by a score of 6-2.
Ward recorded his first NLL hat-trick when he opened the scoring :27 into the second quarter. The Bandits replaced starting goaltender Steve Dietrich just :33 into the quarter replacing him with backup Derek General. The Wings opener up the scoring again with three straight Wings power play goals by captain Jake Bergey, Tony Henderson, and Bergey again. Buffalo scored three goals in the remaining nine minutes to make the score at the half Wings 10-5. Wings' goaltender Dallas Eliuk stopped 14 shots in two quarters of action while Bandits' goaltender Dietrich stopped 13 in 15:27 of game action and General stopped eleven.
The Bandits' Kerry Suseski opened up the scoring in the third quarter to cut the Wings lead to four. The Wings Ratcliffe scored his second goal of the night before the Bandits scored three straight to cut the Wings lead to two. The Wings' Henderson added another goal, followed by two more goals for the Bandits to pull Buffalo within one of the Wings at the end of the third quarter.
The Bandits tied the game just :45 into the fourth quarter. The Wings' Henderson put the Wings back on top with his hat-trick at 7:42 followed by two by Ratcliffe just :22 apart. The Bandits made one last rush at the lead when Crosbie scored his fourth goal of the night, but the Wings' Paul Cantabene sealed the victory with an empty net goal at 12:44.
Jeff Ratcliffe led the Wings offense with his four-goal performance (4G, 2A). Two Wings recorded hat-tricks on the evening; Ryan Ward with five points (3G, 2A) and Tony Henderson with three points (3G). Rounding out the Wings' scoring were Jake Bergey with four points (2G, 2A), Keith Cromwell with five points (1G, 4A), Paul Cantabene with three points (1G, 2A), Tom Marechek with two points (1G, 1A), and Thomas Hajek with one goal.
Leading the Bandits in scoring was Jason Crosbie with four goals.