This weekend is a big one for the Philadelphia Wings as they host the New England Black Wolves on Saturday (1 p.m. ET) at the Wells Fargo Center before traveling to the Georgia Swarm on Sunday (4 p.m. ET) as part of a crucial back-to-back against East Division opponents.
The Wings (7-5 record) have slipped from first to third place in the East after a pair of losses to the Saskatchewan Rush and the Colorado Mammoth in the last two weeks and now trail their next two opponents in the standings. A pair of wins this weekend would put Philadelphia back on top of the East heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
But that will be no easy task as the streaky Black Wolves come to town on Saturday riding a three-game winning streak. New England started the season 4-0 before suffering a three-game slide. New England has recently rebounded and won its past three games by a combined 21 goals with victories over Rochester, New York and Halifax, respectively.
Philadelphia and New England have split their prior two match-ups this season, as the Black Wolves won 8-7 on Jan. 18 before the Wings got revenge with a 14-11 victory on Feb. 16. Both games were at the Mohegan Sun Arena making this the first time the teams will meet at the Wells Fargo Center this season.
Philadelphia’s Kevin Crowley now sits fourth in the league in scoring with 61 points after adding a six-point effort against Colorado last weekend. He leads the league in assists with 41 on the year.
The Wings found themselves ahead 5-4 in the third period against Colorado before the Mammoth reeled off six straight goals to take a commanding 10-5 lead in the final stanza. The Wings scored five of the next six but ultimately fell short and lost in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Second-year player Matt Rambo continues to thrive with 20 goals and 31 assists on the season and he’ll be looking forward to facing New England again after posting nine goals in the previous two meetings.
Brett Hickey leads the team with 26 goals on the season, including four game-winning goals, which is tops in the NLL. Trevor Baptiste has continued his dominance in the faceoff circle, winning 74 percent of his draws and has scooped 133 loose balls, second in the league behind Halifax’s Jake Withers (137).
Kiel Matisz leads all defense and transition players with 34 points on the season and plays an average league-best 28:32 time on floor while Goaltender Zach Higgins still boasts a strong .817 save percentage and a 9.34 goals-against average.
New England has played the fewest road games in the league so far this season but are a perfect 3-0 in those three trips. They’ll play six of their final eight games away from the cozy confines of the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Callum Crawford will undoubtedly be the center of attention on Saturday as the Black Wolves’ star leads the league in goals (31) and points (71). He tallied a hat trick in both meetings with the Wings this season.
Joe Resetarits has picked up the secondary scoring with 23 goals and 19 assists and Andrew Kew, New England’s first-round selection this past summer, has potted an impressive 13 goals and 25 assists, just two points behind first-overall pick Tyson Gibson of New York in the rookie scoring race.
The Black Wolves hold the advantage in goaltending as Doug Jamieson is having the best season statistically in the NLL. He leads the league in goals-against average (8.99) and save percentage (.825) while tied for the league lead in wins with seven.
The game can be seen live locally on NBC Sports Philadelphia or streamed online at B/R Live.