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The Philadelphia Wings Are Not Shy When It Comes To Making A Splash

The newest incarnation of the Philadelphia Wings returned to NLL play in what seems like the long-ago year of 2018. After a rough first season, the club has found itself living squarely in mediocrity in the years since, finishing 8-6 in the COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 season and 9-9 with a first round playoff exit last season. This season, life has been largely the same for Philly, with the organization currently owning a 7-8 record, which means the team is once again clawing and scratching their way into a potential lower-seed playoff berth.

While hovering around the .500 mark has been the standard operating procedure for the Wings, players and fans alike can take comfort in knowing that significant efforts are being made to ascend the franchise from middling to upper echelon.

The first big move occurred last offseason, in the wake of the new collective bargaining agreement allowing MVP finalist Joe Resetarits to become a free agent. With the league’s leading goal scorer on the market, the Wings immediately pounced.

“It was kind of last minute. We didn’t know he was going to be a free agent, but we had identified a situation where we needed a driver, someone who can drive goals and offense from the right side of the floor,” explained Wings Head Coach/General Manager Paul Day, who has been with the team since its inception in 2018.

Day’s relationship with Resetarits was extensive. The pair spent time together in Rochester, when Day worked as a Knighthawks assistant and Resetarits was a young player on the rise. In addition, both men spend their summers competing with the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse. Making the potential arrangement even sweeter, Resetarits held long associations with both Kiel Matisz and Blaze Riorden.

Day also believed the unique similarities between Philadelphia and Resetarits’ hometown of Buffalo would pay dividends in the sales pitch.

“I think Philly is a lot like a big Buffalo. Blue collar, love their sports and the physical part of the game. It’s similar to his hometown and that was a big selling point.”

The Wings all-in recruitment of the now 33-year-old forward turned fruitful with the University at Albany alum electing to ink a three-year deal to take his talents to Philadelphia prior to the season starting.

With Resetarits leading the Wings in both goals and assists this season, one does not have to be an honors student at UPenn to decipher how Coach Day and the team feel about their big offseason splash.

“He brings a lot of positive energy whether it’s at dinner, the hotel, flying, in the locker room, during practice time or shootaround. He also makes it a lot of fun. He’s excited to be there and excited to play,” gleefully expressed the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame coach.

With the 2022-2023 season in full swing, come January the Wings still remained on the hunt for yet another prolific scorer, particularly with the squad losing lefty Kyle Jackson who they acquired last season. In the quest to procure some more offensive punch, discussions with the 604 area code led to Philly acquiring lefty forward Mitch Jones from the Vancouver Warriors, in exchange for Steph Charbonneau, a 2023 first round pick and a 2024 second round selection on January 31.

The British Columbia native/downtown Vancouver resident experienced a whirlwind of emotions upon hearing the news.

“I had a really good experience in Vancouver. It’s always bittersweet to get traded, especially midseason. It might be for the better because you don’t have much time to think about it, you just move forward. And it brought me to Philly, which I am thrilled to be a part of.

“I was really excited to join that group and play some meaningful lacrosse,” the 30-year-old noted.

Shortly after arriving in his new home, Jones learned exactly what Coach Day was looking for from the newly-minted star.

“Always liked his game and he has been everything and more since coming to Philly. We’re not bringing you here to be part of it, we’re bringing you in to lead an offense. You’re not here to be the new guy getting yourself comfortable. Come in, take control of the offense and be the player you know how to be.”

Since making his way from Canada’s west coast to the northeastern US, Jones has been nothing short of spectacular, posting 24 goals and 46 assists in the nine games he has donned a Wings jersey. He sits third in the NLL in overall points (including his stats with the Warriors) at 105 points, a new career high.

Prior to the trade, the Wings were 2-4 and the offense was averaging just 9.83 goals per game but since his arrival, they are averaging 12.22 goals scored per game and are 5-4.

Day further gushed when saying, “his leadership and play have been a perfect match for both of us. He’s almost like having another coach. His lacrosse IQ is off the charts.”

For his part, Jones’ feelings regarding his new surroundings do not differ a whole lot from that of his coach.

“The team culture is phenomenal in Philadelphia,” opined Jones. “It’s a lot of veteran guys who’ve been there, whether that’s summer ball, NLL or field lacrosse. A lot of guys have accomplished a lot of things. There’s a quiet confidence in each other and from the coaching staff down, everyone knows their role and what they’re expected to do. Just a really good team culture. They have been extremely welcoming to me.”

With Jones and Resetarits fully established in the Wings’ fold, the team possesses a high level of optimism for what lies ahead, including how they might fare if a playoff appearance can be secured.

“There’s a belief in this locker room that we can compete with anyone,” preached Jones.

The Wings are sitting in a tie three-way for fourth place in the East with the Swarm and Thunderbirds, the last guaranteed playoff spot in the conference. They have a tough contest on the road against the Toronto Rock on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET which is the Game of the Week on TSN, in what could be a first-round playoff preview. Their last two games are then on the road against the FireWolves and the Knighthawks.

Day finished by saying, “we’ve had a lot of adversity with scheduling, injuries and bringing new players in. We’re battle tested and playing playoff lacrosse right now. That would translate well for the playoffs.”