The start of Sunday’s evening’s game most likely had many people around that National Lacrosse League doing a double take. Philadelphia was playing their second of back-to-backs, and New England was waiting for them at Mohegan Sun Arena after another week off.
The Philadelphia Wings (7-3) came in looking for redemption after dropping an overtime thriller to New England (4-3) back on January 18th. They were also coming in after beating Buffalo on Saturday night and spending the night at a hotel about halfway to Mohegan Sun before traveling the rest of the way earlier in the day on Sunday. The Wings showed little signs of slowing down as they came out strong and finished stronger to defeat the Black Wolves 14-11 and take sole possession of first place in the East Division.
The Black Wolves looked completely out of rhythm early, clearly affected by another week off early in this season. New England played a league-low six games coming into Sunday, and it was very evident on the offensive side with an unusually high number of dropped passes and missed connections. The Wings jumped out to a 5-0 lead just under three minutes into the second quarter before showing a little fatigue as the Black Wolves scored six of the next seven goals to tie the score at six.
Colton Watkinson provided the much-needed spark for the Black Wolves as he overpowered a defender in transition and beat Zach Higgins up high to get the Pack on the board with a shorthanded goal early in the second quarter. The goal followed a shorthanded goal from the Wings’ Matt Rambo who buried his first career shorty and then assisted on a power play goal from Josh Currier who followed Watkinson’s shorty with a goal on the man advantage. Rambo’s shorthanded goal was the first shorty given up by the Black Wolves all season.
New England then scored the next five goals and seven of the next eight to take an 8-7 lead with 10:41 left in the game. The goal by Joe Resetarits was his third of the game and marked his second hat trick in as many games. It was also the first lead of the game for the Black Wolves.
Rambo would tie the game at eight before former Black Wolves’ star Kevin Crowley put the Wings on top. Resetarits quickly answered Crowley to tie the game at 9-9 but Brett Hickey and Rambo would answer to put the Wings at arm’s length for the remainder of the game.
With two empty net goals, Philadelphia would bring the lead as high as 14-10 but a late goal by Callum Crawford ended the game at 14-11.
Crawford’s goal got him another hat trick and a six point performance. Resetarits picked up his second straight hat trick with four goals on the night. Stephan Leblanc added four assists for the Black Wolves.
The Wings were led by Rambo’s six goals and Hickey’s three goals and three assists. Crowley added a goal and five assists while Currier contributed a goal and four assists.
Higgins 50 saves for the Wings was one shy of a career best for the veteran netminder. New England’s Doug Jamieson had 34 saves as he helped keep the Black Wolves within reach at numerous points throughout this game.
The Black Wolves close out this homestand next Saturday, February 22nd when the welcome the Rochester Knighthawks to Mohegan Sun Arena. New England will face Philadelphia again on March 7th at Wells Fargo Arena.