With 27 goals on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter, Brendan Mundorf was feeling left out. He already had four assists, but he had yet to score and his Wings trailed the Edmonton Rush by one.
As the Philadelphia crowd started to get loud, Mundorf took over. He scored three goals, the final two with less than three minutes to play and sealed a thrilling 16-15 victory to move the Wings to 6-4.
“The crowd is the best part,” Mundorf said. “When you hear the crowd getting into it when you’re on a low - I wasn’t scoring in the first three quarters - to come in and get the crowd going and have some luck in the fourth quarter, that is why we play the game. It is not for any other reason, and it is a great feeling.”
Mundorf was frustrated but kept shooting. Once he got one goal to drop, the lefty forward was confident more would follow.
“I hit a couple pipes through the first three quarters. Shots just weren’t going in. I’m the type of player, I can’t tell you what happens differently from the time I release the ball and it goes in or when it misses,” he said.
“On the last one, I caught a guy coming out trying to overpressure and take away my shooting lane with my left hand and I went by and the shot dropped. That is how it goes. You shoot your shot, you shoot for your spot and it goes in or it doesn’t. And it started going in.”
Mundorf finished with seven points. Fellow lefty Mike Hominuck, who has been key for Philly of late, was another major contributor with three goals and nine assists.
Through eight games, Hominuck had four goals on 65 shots. That wasn’t good enough and both he and the coaches knew it.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I knew I had to do something to change that,” he said.
Hominuck swapped his mesh stick for the type of leather stick he grew up using. While he doesn’t know whether it’s luck or coincidence, the results are evident. He has five goals on 14 shots in his last two games, both Philadelphia victories as the club remains atop the East Division.
“Our shooting percentage, especially my shooting percentage, has been a lot better the last few games. As long as I can keep that percentage up, good things will happen,” he said.
Both teams shot the ball effectively on Saturday night, presumably aided by 14 power plays resulting in seven combined goals. Mundorf’s game-tying and game-winning goals both came with the man advantage.
The game had a furious back and forth pace, with each team going on multiple runs of at least three straight goals. It seemed that whichever squad was hot last would win.
Neither goalie fared particularly well. The Rush led 9-7 at halftime, but Philadelphia stormed out of the locker room and reeled off six straight to take a commanding 13-9 lead midway through the third.
The Rush responded with a four-goal run, tying the score at 13 with one quarter to play. Edmonton twice took one-goal leads after that, but had no success in containing Mundorf.
“The lapses started in the third quarter on defense,” said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan. “It hurt us big time – they had six goals in seven minutes. We just haven’t figured out ways to close these types of games yet. And at the end, there was a little bit of a lack of composure.”
A bright spot for Edmonton (2-7) was veteran forward Shawn Williams, who became the NLL’s ironman by playing in his 189th straight game.
“It’s one of those things,” said Williams, who had scored his 1,000th point a week earlier. “It’s nice to have. I’m glad I have been able to be a part of this league for this long. I definitely wouldn’t have minded getting a win tonight too.”
Williams said that he is lucky to have avoided injury, but Keenan also said his performance is just as responsible for his long run of NLL success.
“It goes to show, not only [does he have] a lot of games and longevity, but also a lot of production throughout his career. Knowing him, he probably would trade it all for a win tonight,” Keenan said.
Williams had two goals and seven assists for the Rush in what he described as “a great lacrosse game.”
“It’s what the NLL is – ebbs and flows,” he said.
Tom Johnson, Scott Evans and Ryan Ward all notched hat tricks and combined for 19 points for the Rush, with Evans’ three tallies all coming in the first quarter.
Kevin Crowley had four goals and three assists for Philadelphia. Like Hominuck, the always-solid Dan Dawson also had 12 points (two goals, 10 assists). The Wings players intimated there was a sense of urgency in their play.
“We wanted to create some separation from the other teams in the East,” Hominuck said. “We knew we needed this game tonight. Losing was not an option.”
The Wings will meet Colorado on Friday in Denver to kick off a home-and-home series between division leaders that concludes next Sunday.
The Rush’s next game will be Saturday against Washington in Edmonton.