Storm Knocks Out Wings 13-11 Loss
Sunday, February 17, 2002
By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer
Last night the Wings hosted their Anti-Valentine's Day party, billed as "Scorned Lover's Night" for a season high 17,488 at the First Union Center. At half time, four contestants got to tell their story of woe and shred a memento of their former loved one with one contestant winning a trip to Jamaica. The New Jersey Storm (3-9) also participated in the night's events as they shred the unusually porous Philadelphia defense for 10 first half goals en route to a 13-11 win over Wings. It was the first home loss of the season for the Wings.
The game's first goal was indicative of things to come for the Wings; the Storm's Shawn Nadelen got behind the Philadelphia defense and scored unassisted on a breakaway to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at 5:33. Less than a minute later Jake Bergey began the Wings' scoring with assists from Tom Ryan and Jeff Spano. The onslaught began for the Storm when Scott Stewart scored his tenth of the season at 8:31 giving New Jersey a 2-1 lead. The Storm would go on to score four more unanswered goals in the next 6:01 to break out to a commanding 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Tom Marechek stopped the bleeding and got the Wings back within four when he scored number 25 of the season at 1:14. That lasted for twenty seconds when New Jersey scored three more unanswered goals. Goals by Scott Stewart scored at 1:34 and Billy LeFeuvre at 2:58 put the Storm up 8-2. Scott Stewart's goal at 4:40 gave him a hat trick on the night and New Jersey a 9-2 lead. Philadelphia and New Jersey traded goals (Tom Marechek and Keith Cromwell for the Wings) and (Kerry Susheski for the Storm) leaving Philadelphia behind 10-4 at the half wondering what happened to their defense.
The second half was much different; the Wings began to settle down defensively in front of Dallas Eliuk and got back to 10-6 with third quarter goals by Jake Bergey and Keith Cromwell. The Wings' success continued early in the fourth quarter with three straight goals by Philadelphia. With a 5 on 3 power play advantage, Tom Marechek and Jeff Ratcliffe scored within 32 seconds of each other bringing the score to 10-8 and giving Marechek the hat trick. Ratcliffe's second goal of the night at 5:37 made it 10-9 and the First Union Center crowd was fully electrified. When Kerry Susheski scored his second of the night at 6:50, putting the Storm back up by two 11-9; the energy that intensified through the Wings 6-0 scoring run was drained. When Jake Bergey scored at 7:27 (his third goal of the night) to make the score 11-10, the crowd was re-energized, albeit briefly. Two final goals by New Jersey's Billy LeFeuvre at 11:44 and Brian Bendig at 12:31 sealed the win for the Storm. With Goalie Dallas Eliuk pulled giving the Wings an extra attacker, Jeff Ratcliffe finished the night's scoring at 14:44 when he simply over-powered the New Jersey defense and beat goalie Matt Roik to the stick side. It was Ratcliffe's third goal of the night and left the Wings wondering what happened to their defense. "...defensively we didn't play we're capable of playing...we were out too far on people. You know we haven't done that in a couple of games, we got beat on the board on ground balls...they got in tight on Dallas [Goalie Dallas Eliuk]...in the second half we played Wings' defense...we just didn't play the defense the way we needed to in the first half and we didn't play offense the way we did in the last quarter [of tonight's game] or the way we did against Rochester" said Wings' Head Coach Adam Mueller.
Philadelphia's loss was even more significant in that they missed the opportunity to claim first place in the Eastern Division following division leading Washington Power's back-to-back losses this weekend to these New Jersey Storm on Friday night and to the Albany Attack Last night. Philadelphia remains one-half game behind the Power. The Wings play two games next weekend against the Central Division teams. The Wings hit the road for a game Friday night February 22 in Buffalo against the fourth place Bandits (6-5) and return home on Saturday February 23 to face the Columbus Landsharks (4-7). The Wings face the Ottawa Rebel at home on Saturday March 2.
Pro-rated season tickets are still available for the Wings' 2002 home season by calling 215.389.WINGS. Individual tickets are $27, $23, and $18 and are available at Ticketmaster locations throughout the Delaware Valley by calling 215.336.2000 or 856.338.9000 or on the web at www.ticketmaster.com.
Photos by Boog Williams