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Event Spotlight:
Wings Win 15-12 in Match-up of League's Two Hottest Teams

Saturday, March 15, 2003

By David W. Unkle
SJSports Staff Writer

It was gut check time for the Philadelphia Wings (7-5) as the National Lacrosse League’s top team, the Buffalo Bandits (9-2) came to town on the heels of a six-game winning streak. Philadelphia, playing their best lacrosse of the season and on their own four-game winning streak, was ready for the challenge.

Buffalo uses their physical style of play to set up their offensive game; witness the Bandits atop the NLL rankings in penalties/minutes per game (13.5/32:00) and goals per game (15.4).

The Wings game plan was basic: grab the early lead, keep Buffalo’s physical presence from setting up an offensive outburst in the final quarters of the first and second half, and avoid power play and transition goals.

It’s all about getting our offense off the floor and being unselfish, not looking for a rebound or crash the cage like we do some games, said Wings Head Coach Adam Mueller. That was a big problem with the Philadelphia Wings teams in the past but this year we’re getting better at not giving those goals up.

It was a huge win for our team, said defenseman Jeff Spano. It was the first time that our offense and our defense put together four quarters. I think the last half of tonight’s game was a turning point for us.

The Wings jumped out to a 4-0 lead within the first 4:19 of the game, scoring on 4 of their first 5 shots. Philadelphia (Keith Cromwell, Dan Marohl) and Buffalo (Jason Crosbie, John Tavares) traded power play goals, giving Philadelphia the 6-2 lead.

Immediately following Tavares’ score, the floor erupted as the officials ran out of hands to separate the players. Philadelphia’s Andrew Guindon and Buffalo’s Pat McCready getting were assessed game misconducts while the Wings Ryan Traynor and Drew Candy and the Bandits Bill Dee Smith and Mark Steenhuis were hit with fighting majors.

After a delay of over fifteen minutes, play resumed with Cromwell’s second goal of the quarter giving Philadelphia a commanding 7-2 lead.

Buffalo’s Duane Jacobs punctuated the close of the first quarter with a power play goal that would jumpstart the Bandits as they headed into the second quarter.

As they have done all season long, Buffalo dominated the second quarter, scoring five unanswered goals while taking an improbable 8-7 lead into the half.

Two third period goals by Jeff Ratcliffe led Philadelphia back to 9-9.

A four-goal swing in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter made it 11-11 before they took the lead for good on goals by Drew Candy and Tom Marechek.

Drew is not going to outrun many guys in the league but he outran three of (Buffalo’s) guys and stuck it in the net, said Mueller. That goal on the breakaway was a huge momentum builder for us.

Buffalo’s John Tavares gave the visitors life with 4:10 to play but Ratcliffe’s goal with 3:02 to go seemed to squelch any idea of a comeback. Tom Marechek slammed the door closed with an empty-netter with 67 seconds to go.

Referring to the Wings dominance in the final stanza, it’s amazing; it was the fourth quarter we needed against teams like Toronto, Rochester, Ottawa and we finally got it tonight against Buffalo, said Mueller. If we play our system, we should be in every game against every team, bar none.

Every game we’ve played this year has been tight going into the fourth quarter, added Mueller. We can’t take anything for granted because we don’t have talent that other teams have. We need to keeping grinding, working hard and do all of the little things.

Tonight, we wanted it a little bit more than they did.

1st Quarter: PHL Marohl (Ratcliffe) 058; PHL Henderson (Cromwell, Marechek) (pp) 1:14; PHL Frye (Henderson, Marohl) 1:45; PHL Frye (Spano) (sh) 4:19; BUF Crosbie (Derks, Accursi) (pp) 6:47; BUF Tavares (unassisted) (pp) 7:43; PHL Cromwell (Marohl, Marechek) (pp) 8:14; PHL Marohl (Cromwell, Henderson) (pp) 10:22; PHL Cromwell (Marohl, Marechek) (pp) 11:40; BUF Jacobs (Tavares, Crosbie) 14:11.

2nd Quarter: BUF Derks (Crosbie, Dietrich) 0:32; BUF Plunkett (Tavares, Caines) (pp) 9:25; BUF Jacobs (Derks) 9:52; BUF Steenhuis (unassisted) 9:59; BUF Jacobs (Tavares, Caines) (sh) 12:00.

3rd Quarter: PHL Ratcliffe (Cromwell, Traynor) 3:26; BUF Crosbie (Tavares, Plunkett) 10:49; PHL Ratcliffe (Marohl, Frye) 13:44.

4th Quarter: BUF Derks (Tavares, Kilgour) 0:29; PHL Marohl (Marechek, Henderson) 0:54; BUF Plunkett (Steenhuis, Accursi) 1:17; PHL Henderson (Frye, Marechek) 1:42; PHL Candy (unassisted) 8:16; PHL Marechek (Frye, Eliuk) 9:04; BUF Tavares (Kilgour) (sh) 10:50; PHL Ratcliffe (Cromwell, Marechek) 11:58; PHL Marechek (Martin) (en) 13:53.

Buffalo: 3-5-1-3
Philadelphia: 7-0-2-6


1st Quarter: PHL Burke (roughing) 0:50; BUF Derks (roughing) 0:50; BUF Accursi (delay of game) 1:01; PHL Traynor (delay of game) 2:26; PHL Ratcliffe (cross-checking) 5:39; PHL Eliuk (delay of game) served by Traynor 6:40; PHL Candy (fighting) 7:43; PHL Traynor (fighting) 7:43; PHL Guindon (fighting, game misconduct) 7:43; BUF Steenhuis (fighting) 7:43; BUF Smith (fighting) 7:43; BUF McCready (fighting, game misconduct) 7:43; PHL Martin (slashing) 13:16.

2nd Quarter: BUF Crosbie (unsportsmanlike conduct) 1:38; PHL Frye (cross-checking) 7:26; BUF Hackel (holding) 11:05.

3rd Quarter: BUF Tavares (slashing) 4:04; PHL Martin (interference-bodychecking) 5:53; PHL Henderson (holding) 14:10.

4th Quarter: PHL Bench (unsportsmanlike conduct) 2:43; BUF Bench (too many men on field) 10:24; BUF Hackel (holding) 14:10; PHL Henderson (roughing) 14:10; PHL Ratcliffe (holding) 14:52.

Buffalo: 10/34:00
Philadelphia: 14/42:00

STAR OF THE GAME: Dallas Eliuk (PHL)

Officials: Hans Wittelsberger; Bill Jenkins; Harry McVey.

Attendance: 15,097


  1. The Philadelphia Wings lead the all-time series 14-13, including an 8-4 record at home.
  2. The Buffalo Bandits Kyle Couling was named the National Lacrosse League Player of the week. He is profiled this week on the Professional Lacrosse Players Association (PLPA) website at: www.plpa.com
  3. The Philadelphia Wings now hold 1.0 game lead over Colorado; the Mammoth however have two games in hand.
  4. Buffalo holds a 1.5 game lead over Rochester in the Central Division and has a game in hand.

Photos by Kristine Kauffman

Click here for more articles from David Unkle

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