Wings Get Bitten in Overtime by Landsharks 15-14
Sunday, February 24, 2002
By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head Coach Chuck Noll once said: Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it. Last night, the Wings had the Columbus Landsharks where they wanted them in the second quarter. Down 3-1 at the end of the first period, Philadelphia reeled off seven goals to take a one goal lead (8-7) into the half-time locker room. The outcome was not what the Wings of the 13,726 fans in attendance had in mind.
Playing without Goalie Dallas Eliuk, Jake Bergey, Tom Phair and Jeff Spano, the Wings quickly got behind 2-0 on goals by Columbus rookies Ryan Stopper and Barrett Church. Tom "Hollywood" Marechek opened the Wings scoring with his 30th of the season at 10:52 of the first quarter. Stopper's goal at 12:59 put Columbus back up by two (3-1) and had the First Union Center fans wondering if the Rochester Knight-hawks accidentally took the Wings' offense back to New York with them three weeks ago. Something happened to jumpstart Philadelphia as the Wings came back with two goals in the first 0:52 of the second quarter. Kevin Finneran scored his first of three on a shot that beat Columbus goalie Mike Miron to the stick side. Mark Millon scored his seventh of the season just three seconds into a power play knotting the score 3-3. The Wings came close to taking the lead for the first time on the night when Tom Slate went in alone on Miron at 2:50 but the Columbus goalie came up big. Wings goalie Chris Sanderson did the unthinkable not once but twice last night. With the Wings' offense in full gear, Sanderson, following a save on the Landsharks' Kyle Arbuckle, threw the ball into his own net trying to throw an outlet pass. He would repeat the faux pas later in the quarter. With the Wings down again 4-3, the Philadelphia offense went back to work scoring four unanswered goals in 5:42. Mark Millon scored back to back goals a minute apart giving him the early hat trick putting the Wings back on top 5-4. Jeff Ratcliffe scored his 29th of the season putting the Wings up 6-4. The next goal was one for the archives; Tom Marechek threw not one but two blindside, over-the-shoulder shots at the Columbus goalie. The second shot went in, the score was 7-4, and the First Union Center fans came alive. Two goals by Columbus in 1:38 (the latter one being on another errant outlet pass) put the score at 7-6. The calls for Wings' Dallas Eliuk came roaring from the stands and an eerie feeling was cast over the First Union Center. Twenty-nine seconds later, the Wings' Tom Marechek scored his second of the night and the Wings' two-goal margin was back. It lasted all of 34 seconds as the Landsharks' Spencer Martin scored through traffic. The Wings has a golden opportunity to increase their lead with a 5 on 3 power play at the end of the second quarter but were unable to score. Going into the half the score was 8-7 Wings but their level of confidence, which was visible midway through the second quarter, was noticeably tenuous.
Kyle Arbuckle knotted the game at 8-8 with his 15th goal of the year at 1:35 of the third quarter. Philadelphia took the lead again when Tom Marechek scored his third of the night on a shot that Columbus goalie Mike Miron wasn't expecting. The Wings next goal was classic; another Tom Marechek over-the-shoulder pass to Tom Ryan who then threaded the ball to Jeff Ratcliffe, put the Wings up 10-8. Kevin Finneran's shot through traffic on the power play made the score 11-8. Two even strength goals by the Landsharks' Kyle Arbuckle and Cory Kahoun left Columbus down by one 11-10. Twenty-six seconds later, Wings' Tom Ryan scored his tenth of the season prompting the visitors to score the next three goals (two by Kasey Beirnes and one by Mark Steenhuis) put Columbus back on top 13-12. The Wings knotted the score at 13 on Kevin Finneran's third of the night, highlighted by crisp passing from Mark Millon and Jeff Ratcliffe. The Philadelphia crowd was once again alive; it erupted just 22 seconds later when Ratcliffe got his hat trick and the fans sensed the end to the Wings' two game losing streak. That feeling ended abruptly when Wes Suddons score unassisted, just seven seconds after Ratcliffe at 11:57 and the score was tied 14-14.
Philadelphia needed this victory and went all out to get it. With Columbus called for interference at 13:09 of the fourth quarter, Kevin Finneran's shot hit the post at 1:40 left in the game. Philadelphia, attempting to get the right players in the right position, called two timeouts in the last minute of play but couldn't get the winning goal past Miron. Mark Millon's shot at 0:20 hit the post and Kevin Finneran's apparent game-winning goal with 4.9 seconds left in regulation was voided on a questionable crease violation.
The Landsharks' came up big in overtime forcing Chris Sanderson into making big saves just 30 seconds in. After hitting the post at 3:28 in overtime, former Wings' player Gewas Schindler scored the game-winner (his twenty-fourth on the season) at 4:22 immediately after getting sick on the Columbus bench and the Wings dropped their third game in seven days. "Obviously, we're a bit dejected...we were pretty confident that we were going to come away with a "W" tonight...we really thought we were the better team. To Columbus' credit, they were opportunistic and scored goals at the right time...we have a bulls-eye on our back and everyone is going to bring their "A" game against us...we're going to have to learn as a team to put teams away when we have a two or three goal lead, you have to put the nail in the coffin and we're just not doing that" said Wings' Captain Dave Stilley. The words of Chuck Noll are ever so true.
It's Ladies Night at the First Union Center next week as the Ottawa Rebel (2-9) take on the Philadelphia Wings (5-6) at the First Union Center on Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 PM.
Be sure to vote for your favorite Philadelphia Wings player to represent the South in the National Lacrosse League All Star Game on April 21, 2002 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. You can vote on-line at www.nationallacrosse.com, the official website of the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
Check out the Professional Lacrosse Player's Association website at www.plpa.com for interviews with Philadelphia Wings' players along with other top names in the NLL.
Listen to "Inside the Wings" on The Topcat & Taggart Sports Show every Sunday from 4:30-5:30 PM on WNJC 1360-AM. "Inside the Wings" will feature a player interview, the latest news on the team, and giveaways. This week's guest is scheduled to be #66 Jake Bergey.
Photos by Pedro Cancel