Kyle Buchanan scored four goals against his former team as the Philadelphia Wings (3-3) earned a convincing 15-9 home win over the Vancouver Stealth (2-5) at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
“I had this one circled on my calendar,” Buchanan said. “Tonight was a big one for me but when we put 60 minutes together like we did tonight, I’m happy to get a win and obviously it’s nice against my former team.”
The Wings set the tone for the game coming out with speed and aggression as they took the early lead with about 10 minutes left in the first. The goal came from defender Chad Wiedmaier who sprinted the ball up from the Wings restraining line to snipe a shot into the top right pocket of the net without Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards flinching.
Buchanan came right back out to make it 2-0 with an impressive fake-out on Richards, minutes before the Stealth scored their first goal by transition player Justin Salt.
With a little under four minutes left in the first, Buchanan proved himself to be a dominant force on the field, saving the ball from exiting the Stealth zone and ultimately leading to his second goal of the night.
Head coach Blane Harrison said he’s “very happy” to have Buchanan on his team. “He had a great game but I’m not surprised, he’s done very well here for us....right from day one we knew he’d fit into this team and he’s been a great asset.”
However, Buchanan wasn’t finished just yet as he closed the first quarter with a hat trick against his former team, scoring off of a powerful shot from the point, assisted by Wings forward Pat Saunders.
“I was confident in my shooting,” Buchanan said. “Obviously I’ve played against T-Rich before and I played against that defense all last year and I know it pretty well. My shooting was on today so I just kept putting them on net and luckily they were going in.”
Vancouver came out strong early in the second with two quick goals— one on the power play and one minutes after— scored by forwards Cliff Smith and Brett Hickey.
However, Captain Brodie Merrill gave the Wings some comfort in their lead with a goal from the center to make it 5-3 off of an assist from Buchanan. This was not long before Buchanan himself scored goal number four of the night for the Wings giving them a two goal lead with ten minutes left in the second.
The Stealth got another point up on the board by transition player Tyler Garrison. However, Vancouver couldn’t seem to put a stop to Saunders who scored two goals for Philadelphia within about a minute of each other, leading to a Stealth goalie change, substituting in Matt Roik for Richards after letting in his eighth goal.
Vancouver assistant captain forward Rhys Duch played with a sense of urgency in response to his team trailing by four goals and scored a beautiful diving goal in the right
pocket of the net on the breakaway. However, the Wings responded quickly too, with forward Kevin Crowley scoring on an assist from Saunders.
Taking after the lead of Captain Merrill, Saunders got the second Wings hat trick of the night, putting up goal number 10 and giving forward Jordan Hall his fifth assist of the game and his 250th career assist overall.
“It was a different feel,” Hall said on getting so many assists this game. “Honestly when I scored later in the game it was a little bit of a slump breaker because I wasn’t shooting as well earlier in the game. It was great, the other guys really stepped up well and Saunders really stepped up tonight and it was easy to play with them and set some picks and get them open.”
Only seconds into the third quarter, Philadelphia forward Garrett Thul put another up on their opponent. However, the Wings didn’t respond fast enough on the defense as Vancouver snuck two quick goals in to cut the Wings lead for a score of 12-7.
With five minutes into the third, Duch scored his second goal with another diving shot putting the ball behind Kirk. The first goal in the fourth quarter came from Hall who, after a total of six assists, took the scoring into his own hands to give his team a five goal lead with a power play goal. Veteran forward Tracey Kelusky followed, scoring his first goal of the game to make it 14-8 in favor of the Wings.
Forward Tyler Digby scored one for Vancouver with under four minutes left in the game, however it wasn’t enough as Wings defender and assistant captain Brett Manney scored an open-net goal to finish the exciting game off with a Philly win, after playing an outstanding game on defense, especially highlighting his talents on the penalty kills.
However, Stealth head coach Chris Hall was not impressed with defensive play of his own team.
“We’re not playing well and the offense is a bit anemic to say the least,” Hall said. “Our power play has been horrible the last four games. We’re giving up way too many goals defensively and offensively we’re not getting to the net so things have to change for us.”
The Wings will travel out for back-to-back weekend against the Toronto Rock and finish off the weekend at home against the Edmonton Rush at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m.
“I feel pretty good about that win,” Harrison said. “We’ve had two solid games back to back where I thought we took advantage of our opportunities… I thought it was almost a near perfect game for the defense.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Kyle Buchanan
2) Pat Saunders
3) Rhys Duch