Shawn Palmer, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Philadelphia Wings (3-1) hosted the Georgia Swarm (1-2) at the Wells Fargo Center for a matinee game today after both teams had not played in over three weeks due to the Christmas break and the one week COVID pause. The two offenses took a half to get started but came on to produce a back and forth exciting game that Georgia forced to overtime before falling to Philadelphia 12 – 11 in front of 5,549 fans. Final Score OT: Wings 12—Swarm 11.
The Wings regular goaltender Zach Higgins was not available for today’s game so they signed Eric Penney (50 saves) who was released by Vancouver earlier this year and had been playing in the Arena Lacrosse League in BC for the past few weeks. Georgia was hoping to take advantage of the fact that Penney hadn’t faced NLL shots in almost two years. The long layoff between games seemed to favour the defense as both teams could not get good looks on offense for the first five minutes. Just before the six minute mark of the first quarter Ben McIntosh (4G) received a pass from Brett Hickey (2A) in front of the net and he beat Mike Poulin (39 saves) over the shoulder to open the scoring. Philadelphia added to their lead just over five minutes later as Matt Rambo (3G, 3A) came off the bench, picked up the ball near the boards, came around a pick and fired a shot low, beating Poulin to the short side doubling the Wings lead. The shots on goal in the first quarter were Georgia 13 and Philadelphia 11. The first quarter ended with the Wings up 2 – 0 over the Swarm.
Georgia finally got on the scoresheet just over two minutes into the second quarter as Lyle Thompson (5G, 3A) came over the top and with a high to low shot beat Penney through the legs to cut the Wings lead to 2 – 1. Less than a minute later the Swarm tied it up when Shayne Jackson (2G, 2A) threw a pick and roll up top and received a pass from Ethan Walker (2A) and beat Penney over the shoulder to tie it up at two. The rest of the quarter neither offense could get on track and both goalies stood their ground creating a very low scoring first half. The shots on goal were Georgia 31 and Philadelphia 23. For anyone who had bet the under of 22 total goals they were feeling pretty good at this point but there was still a half left to change this. Score at the end of two: Wings 2—Swarm 2.
Philadelphia opened the scoring in the third quarter less than five minutes into the frame as McIntosh scored his second of the game when his laser from the top found the top corner over Poulin’s shoulder to give the Wings back the lead at 3 – 2. The Swarm tied it up less than 30 seconds later when Chad Tutton (1G, 1A), in transition received a nice breakaway pass from Bryan Cole (2A) and he beat Penney low to the glove side. The Wings regained the lead when Kevin Crowley (1G,4A) faked a shot up high and beat his defender, going in on Poulin, threw another fake far side and came back to beat him up high to the short side to make it 4 – 3 for the Wings. Just over 30 seconds later Philadelphia doubled their lead when Blaze Riordan (3G,1A) was wide open on the crease and received a skip pass from Hickey and dove across the crease to beat Poulin to the far side making it 5 – 3 for the Wings. Rambo extended the lead sweeping around the top and his overhand bounce shot squeezed through Poulin’s legs and trickled over the line to make it 6 – 3 Philly. The Swarm stopped the Wings run when Thompson picked up a rebound after Penney had stopped Adam Wiedemann (1A) on a breakaway and deposited it low under Penney’s glove hand to cut the Wings lead to two at 6 – 4. Georgia followed that up with Jackson receiving a pass on the crease from Jordan MacIntosh (1G, 1A) and beating Penney through the five hole to get the Swarm within one at 6 – 5. Georgia had the last possession of the quarter, MacIntosh received a pass from behind the net from Jordan Hall (5A) and jumped forward beating Penney to the top corner with one second left to tie it up. The shots at the end of the third were Georgia 45 and Philadelphia 36. Score at the end of three: Wings 6—Swarm 6.
The fourth quarter started with Kiel Matisz (1G, 2A) receiving a pass from Crowley all alone in front of the net and he proceeded to throw five fakes before finally bouncing a shot through the legs to restore the Philly lead. The advantage was short lived because Thompson beat his defender low and dove across the crease beating Penney through the legs for his hat trick goal to tie it up at seven just over a minute later. Philadelphia restored the lead when Riordan with time running out on the shot clock ran from the corner to the top and while shooting on the run beat Penney with a low hard shot that found the corner to make it 8 – 7. Thompson with his second in a row and fourth of the game tied it up again for Georgia when he ran across the top, stopped quickly and fired an over hand shot low beating Penney to the stick side. Philadelphia got that one back when Isaiah Davis-Allen (2A) threw a long outlet pass to McIntosh who was all alone in front of the net and to beat Poulin five-hole for his hat trick to give the Wings a 9 – 8 lead. Less than two minutes later Rambo took a pass at the top and stepped into an over hand shot that beat Poulin to the low stick side increasing the Wings lead 10 – 8 with just over five minutes left in the game. Georgia was able to respond less than 30 seconds later when Hall got the pass from Thompson, cut through the middle shooting a bounce shot through Penney’s legs to cut the deficit to one at 10 – 9. Just past the 11 minute mark of the final quarter Thompson picked up a loose ball from the boards, turned and fired it into the top corner over Penney’s shoulder for his fifth of the game to tie the game at 10. The Wings would once again restore the lead when McIntosh received a pass on the left side of the floor, used his defender as a screen and shot around him to beat Poulin far side for his fourth of the game giving the Wings an 11 – 10 lead with less than three minutes left on the ticker. Georgia had the last possession of the game and pulled their goalie for an extra attacker to try and tie the game. Hall fired a shot wide with six seconds left in the game and Brendan Bomberry (1G,3A) picked up the rebound and took a high to low shot that beat Penney to the short side with one second left sending the game to overtime. Score at the end of four: Wings 11—Swarm 11,
For a game that started off slow and very defensive it definitely picked up in the second half with both teams stepping up their offense and scoring eighteen goals in the last two quarters.
In the overtime, Trevor Baptiste (1A, 20 face-off wins) won the draw and Philadelphia immediately called a timeout and drew up a play. Crowley passed to Riordan who was coming around a pick and he fired a shot over the glove of Poulin to win the game 15 seconds into overtime giving the Wings a 12 – 11 win.
The shots on goal at the end of the game was Georgia 61 and Philadelphia 51.
Three Stars of the game:
Blaze Riordan—Philadelphia Wings – 3 Goals, 1 Assist including OT winner
Ben McIntosh—Philadelphia Wings – 4 Goals
Lyle Thompson—George Swarm – 5 Goals 3 Assists
Honourable mention Eric Penney—Philadelphia Wings– with 50 saves and the win in his first game in two years.
The Philadelphia Wings (3-1) will host the Albany Firewolves (0-2) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday January 15, 2022. Game time 12:00 p.m. EST. This is the Game of the Week in the USA & fans can catch the action on ESPN. Fans in Canada can watch the game on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
The Georgia Swarm (1-2) will head to the Key Bank Center to face the Buffalo Bandits (2-0) on Saturday January 15, 2022. Game time 7:30 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see this game on ESPN+ and fans in Canada can catch the action on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
Shawn Palmer, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©