Coming into the Saturday Matinee at the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Wings and the Georgia Swarm had played to a 12-11 game in their last two encounters. Those who say, “Those who don’t remember history, are doomed to repeat it,” would be spot on as each squad had claimed the one-goal victory and liked it so much, they would do it again. History repeats itself in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Wings (3-1) found themselves in a do-or-die overtime situation with the 1-2 Swarm. Blaze Riorden sending the afternoon Philly crowd happy with a blistering shot with just :15 gone in extra time.
The hometown Wings were hit with bad news before the game even got underway, being told that starting goaltender, Zach Higgins would be unavailable due to, what else, Covid concerns. Journeyman, Eric Penney was signed and inserted as the starter.
Penney has had a fairly non-descript career but, was surely outstanding and shut out the high octane Swarm offense for 17:36 while Philadelphia built a 2-0 first period lead. Matt Rambo and Corey Small (1a) doing the work for Ben McIntosh (4g) who seems to have found his MOJO since being brought over from Saskatchewan in a pre-season trade.
Six minutes later it would be the hometown boy, Matt Rambo (3g, 3a) hitting net with help from Brett Hickey (2a) and former Swarm player, Alex Crepinsek (1a) to put Philly in front, 2-0 at the end of one. Despite the low score, Georgia outshot the Wings, 14-11.
Indeed they did, Georgia lived up to their name The Swarm with an astounding 19 shots. Penney stood tall allowing only a pair of goals with Chad Tutton and Brendan Bomberry doing the work for Lyle Thompson (5g, 3a) who cut it to 2-1. Former Wing, Jordan Hall, and Ethan Walker (2a) did the work for Shayne Jackson (1g, 2a) to close the curtain on the half with a 2-2 score. Both defenses and Goalies were outstanding in allowing just four goals off 33 Swarm shots and 21 Philly tries.
This is a Great Battle
Indeed it was. Things opened up score-wise but, neither team could gain full control in the third. At 4:27, Ben McIntosh converted for his second with Kiel Matisz getting on the stat sheet. The Swarm took the hit, took a breath with Chad Tutton saying “hold my beer” and, off a pretty feed from Bryan Cole (2a) after just :33 hit net to even things again.
Kevin Crowley (1g, 4a) registered the prettiest goal of the afternoon, set up when Trevor Baptiste (1a) scooped a loose ball in the Philadelphia end. He was absolutely crushed but, maintained control and sent a perfect on the line, pass that Crowley put away to make it 4-3.
Blaze Riorden (3g, 1a) put home a set-up from Brett Hickey and, rookie, Kyle Marr to stretch it 5-3 just thirty ticks after the Crowley marker. Riorden turned playmaker to hit Rambo in stride and it looked as if Philly was pulling away, 6-3.
Georgia never got the memo and stormed back thanks to, Thompson at 11:21, Connor Kirst (1g) following at14:29 and to get it even, Hall and Thompson set up Jordan MacIntosh (1g, 1a) with a foreboding two seconds on the clock and the third quarter ended like the second quarter, tied up, it was now a 6-6 affair.
Let the Drama Begin
The goal-fest would pick right back up, starting with Kiel Matisz (1g, 2a) squeezing one thru traffic at 1:20. A minute forty-seven later, Thompson had an answer. Get comfortable, more stuff coming! Riorden and Thompson matched each other before McIntosh hit rope again.
Rambo boosted it to a 10-8 advantage with just 4 minutes left before…Jordan Hall (1g, 4a) quieted the crowd when he made it 10-9. Thompson tied it on a play that Wings Coach, Paul Day, threw the red flag to question. The review showed a good call which led to a possible turning point.
At 12:20 McIntosh gave Philly the lead once again and things were looking rosy for the home team. The oddness. WIth Swarm goalie, Mike Poulin pulled. Georgia was whistled for an infraction which gave Philly a new shot clock with just 26 seconds to play.
Game over right? Not so fast. Having lost their time out on the failed challenge, Matt Rambo was given possession. In what be called a poor decision, instead of simply running out the clock, Rambo attempted to hit the empty net from what would be the hockey blue line. Rut Roh George, the shot changed off the boards, and Georgia recovered with Coach Ed Comeau immediately calling a time out.
The Swarm had one more shot and with 00:06 Brendan Bomberry (1g, 3a) put one by Penney to force overtime. No worries Wings fans, Rambo atoned for his gaffe and fired across the floor to Crowley who found Riorden with :15 gone to end one of the most thrilling lacrosse games you will ever see. History repeats itself in Philadelphia.
Despite the relatively low score, the teams combined for an eye-opening 112 shots on goal with Penney stopping 50 of 61 and the ageless, Mike Poulin turning back 40 of 51. How good was Trevor Baptiste? An astounding 20 of 27 from the “X” while throwing in an assist and 17 loose balls. Shots off goal had Georgia with 17 and Philly 19.
People you meet at halftime. Wings legend, Kevin Finneran. Yeah, I know he played for Toronto as well as the legendary Flyers announcer, Lou Nolan. Talk about balanced scoring Georgia got at least one point from 11 players with the Wings getting points from 13. History repeats itself in Philadelphia.
Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.
Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.
A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.