Wings Win in a Rout 21-13 over Rochester Knight-hawks
Saturday, February 2, 2002
By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer
For the 10,235 fans at the First Union Center in Philadelphia last night, this was truly a night to behold. For the Rochester Knight-hawks, waking up today on Groundhog Day could prove insightful. Will it soon be Spring and a run in the playoffs or a long winter after back-to-back losses against Toronto and Philadelphia? After last night's game, the latter looks like a distinct possibility.
From the player introductions prior to the start of the game until the final buzzer, Jake Bergey, Dave Stilley, Tom Marechek, Kevin Finneran, Mark Million, and Dallas Eliuk led the Philadelphia Wings (5-3) assault on the first-place Rochester Knight-hawks (7-3). This game was much different than the team's last meeting back on December 15, a game in which the Knight-hawks won 15-10 in Rochester. In fact, this was one of the worst performances in Rochester team history and the eight goal margin of defeat topped the previous record of seven goals. In that first meeting, Wings' Jake Bergey and Tom Marechek combined for a total of 42 shots on goal and came away with only 2 goals to show for their effort. The end result was much different last night; the duo combined for 26 shots and finished with 10 goals with Jake Bergey (6 goals, 6 assists) and Tom Marechek (4 goals, 4 assists) leading all scorers.
Following their previous meeting, Knight-hawks Forward John Grant was quoted in the Rochester press as saying "I wouldn't want to play our team. They're nasty and they hit hard." The Wings thought differently last night in a highly physical game that resulted in a combined 29 penalties, 107 minutes, and 10 game misconducts. Wings Captain Dave Stilley (4 penalties, 14 minutes and a game misconduct) led all players. "They were going after Kevin Finneran and taking a couple of cheap shots" said Stilley.
The two teams battled closely in the first half with the score tied 8-8; two different teams emerged from their respective locker rooms in the second half. The Wings opened it up with goals by Kevin Finneran and Jeff Ratcliffe in the first 2:41 of the third quarter. After trading goals with Rochester and the score 11-10 midway through the third period, the Wings scored nine unanswered goals over the next 9:16. Rochester came back with three goals in a span of 1:32 midway through the final period but by that time the blitzkrieg was completed. Jake Bergey finished the scoring with his sixth of the evening with 2:04 to go.
"We moved the ball around really well for the first time this year", said Wings' Coach Adam Mueller. "The guys came into the locker room, the offense was confident and they knew they were going to do good things, the defense has been playing well the last three weekends...the players just took it upon themselves."
Next up for the Philadelphia Wings, the last-place New Jersey Storm (1-8) on Saturday February 16 at the First Union Center.
Photos by Boog Williams