Live from the home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and new barn of the National Lacrosse League’s Orlando Titans, Insider blogs live from tonight’s season opener, the Titans hosting the Philadelphia Wings. After the jump, get live updates from Orlando, and refresh often for coverage of tonight’s clash.
FINAL THOUGHTS (spoiler alert)
It’s after midnight so I figured I’d post some final thoughts up top since at this point you’re probably not going to want to read the whole damn blog. Orlando’s gotta be happy with a crowd of just over 8,000 for its first game. The lower bowl was nearly filled, and some fans sat in the upper level on one side.
They also have to be happy with Casey Powell (4G, 1A) and Jordan Hall (6A). The Titans offense is impressive, especially with goalie Matt Vinc sparking fastbreaks with his laser outlet passes. Seven straight Orlando goals in the second quarter were the difference, leading to an 8-3 halftime lead.
Philly didn’t look great in this 13-8 loss, but Drew Westervelt (3, 1) had a great night and Bill McGlone (1, 2) showed that he can play. Rookie Kevin Huntley had two goals called back and hit two pipes, finishing with two assists. The Wings were without regulars John Christmas, Merrick Thomson and Brett Moyer.
The big news was with the fights. See the fourth quarter below for more on that but what appeared to happen was Geoff Snider fought Orlando’s Chet Koneczny and not Rory Smith. So in retaliation, Smith fought Philly’s Tom Hajek. Hajek landed some solid punches, but after Smith won with some late bombs (the last few of which came as the refs were breaking up the fight), he gestured right at Snider, who was sitting in the penalty box, as if to say ‘This was supposed to be us.’ Then the fans started raining Snider with beer from the stands. Smith got two game misconducts, according to the stats.
At no point in the game was the crowd more fired up than when Smith walked off the floor toward the tunnel in just his blue base layer and pads. But I talked to one of the on-duty policemen after the game and he said four mothers were yelling at him, demanding he stop the fights. (How amazing would it have been if a swarm of cops descended on the floor to stop an NLL fight…)
They were horrified, apparently. Some even rushed their kids to the concourse while these fights (which were pretty long) were happening. I also spoke to three different wives/girlfriends after the game and they all said the same thing: “Why didn’t they stop those fights?” The crowd had a ton of kids (and a lot of good-looking women I might add), so there might be some PR chores for the Titans before the next home game in terms of educating their fans that fights do happen in the NLL. There were almost 100 penalty minutes in this game, which is pretty amazing.
Still, judging by the fan response right after the second fight (the game’s only “Let’s Go Titans!” chant), I gotta think that’s going to be very good for business.
We’re live from Orlando’s Amway Arena or the first-ever game for the Titans and the first game of the 2010 National Lacrosse League season. Appropriately the first guy I ran into on my way into the arena was Orlando coach Ed Comeau. He’s been down for a chilly few weeks with his family helping to get the Titans off the ground is says there’s a lot of buzz about the team in the area. He’s already done more media interviews here than in his entire season in New York last year. The team had planned to just open the lower bowl but has at the last minute decided to open the upper level. So it sounds like 8-10,000 is a possibility.
Comeau says to watch out for Dan Hardy, the big rookie out of Syracuse who will wear No. 9 for the Titans, and Chet Koneczny, a Canadian who ironically doesn’t have a bio in today’s stat packet. He’s also fired up about Michael Evans, a Hopkins product who will not suit up tonight but has impressed so far.
The Titans have nine guys living in the area this season, most notably Casey Powell, one of lacrosse’s best ambassadors pretty much the world over (the guy’s bigger than LeBron in Japan). Jordan Hall, who’s featured in the February Inside Lacrosse Magazine that mails next week, is another. That’s pretty impressive for a brand-new franchise.
I’m not nearly the NLL expert that Tuts and the boys at Insider are (used to not be able to say “boys”; L-Dub hope all’s well: we wish you girl), but I’m giving it a whirl. Been in nearby Ormond Beach this week visiting my Grandmother and family so I’m pulling double duty. Figured the NLL season-opener and the Titans first game in Orlando was something I should check out.
Forecast said there was a chance for snow (seriously) today, but it’s remained in the 40s (which might as well be 50-below to people around here). How ironic would it have been if the Orlando Titans first NLL home game was affected by snow?
We’re about a half-hour from opening face-off so I’m going to bounce around and catch some flavor.
I don’t know what I’m more shocked about: I just overheard someone say something about the old Washington Power (still have my old season press pass) and I just pet a rhinoceros iguana. Some pretty fresh Titans gear on the concourse. Blank jerseys for $115, hoodies for $55. Looks like the only player-specific stuff is for Casey Powell and goalie Matt Vinc (identified on the shirt I saw as VNO).
Definitely a LOT of lax gear out in the crowd. So it sounds like they’ve reached the lacrosse market.
First snafu of the new era. Both Philadelphia and Orlando came out in white uniforms (Titans are pretty much sporting the same look as last year). Not sure what’ll happen there. Sounds like they’re going to roll with it, but NLL rules this year say the home team wears dark (I didn’t think there was any way it could have been Foxy’s fault).
Got two local disc jockeys “explaining” the rules. Asked to define man-down, this one dude just fell to the floor. At least they’re making an effort….
Just turned out the lights and all the fans are banging lit-up bang-sticks for pregame. Pretty cool effect. Kinda like a “lake on fire” type thing if you’re from Upstate (Queener you out there??). Just had a drum line banging away too. Never seen that at a lacrosse game.
I wouldn’t call the Amway Arena the nicest place I’ve ever been. But it’s not the worst (USAir Arena, anyone?). Sure the team will be amped to move to the new Amway Center with the Magic next season. Lower bowl is relatively packed: feels like the fans are right on top of the field.
Of all the names to mispronounce … Pat Merrill? Dude got Koneczny right too. Hey bro, it’s JohnS Hopkins. And it’s just Hofstra. Not Hof-of-stra. CP was the last guy introduced and the crowd’s pretty fired up right now.
I heard Steel Dragon at the last Titans game I went to, at MSG. I expect some solid metal tonight. So far, I got Orlando’s own Chris Kirkpatrick from N’Sync.
White on white is HARD to follow. There’s a reason why teams wear different-colored unis. I recently got yelled at in indoor soccer for having a kelly green shirt when my teammates were all forest green. I don’t know how these guys are doing it.
Kevin Huntley rocking some sweet black-and-red kicks, and No. 50: missed his first shot. There was definitely a rise of anticipation the first time Casey touched the ball for Orlando. Double behind-the-back, 22 to 22, would have been a sweet way to start the Titans in Orlando. But Hardy just missed the corner after grabbing a great look from Powell while cutting to the crease.
1-0: 10:11 Philly scores first: Dan Teat cutting in front off a feed from Jason Crosbie.
Huntley just scored and got his helmet knocked off in the process, but he was in the crease.
I was told right before the game that they sold out the lower bowl. No one’s yet in the upper deck and the bottom level is probably 90% full about halfway into the first quarter. Gotta be a promising start.
Casey just had a sick over the head check behind the goal to take the ball away from a Wings defender and then dove in front and wrapped it around but hit the pipe.
1-1 8:03 Bill Greer with the first goal in Orlando Titans history. He finishes a sweet steal and then fastbreak pass from Jarett Park about eight minutes into the quarter.
I’ve now seen Deuce McAllister and Sidney Crosby jerseys in the crowd.
Huntley needs a new lid. That’s twice, but he is taking it to the rack pretty effectively.
2-1 Philly 3:58 Bounce shot from Philly’s Drew Westervelt, from Mat Giles.
And it took more than 10 minutes for Geoff Snider to pick up his first penalty.
2-2 3:19 Mike McLellan sticks one, from Hall to even it up.
2-3 Titans 3:12 Right off the face-off Greg Peyser finishes the fastbreak to give the Titans their first lead.
Rory Smith and Snider just got tied up in the corner but nothing happened. There’s definitely a LOT brewing there.
Philly’s Drew Westervelt hit the pipe and Orlando’s Matt Alrich barely missed a near open net (nice save by Brandon Miller) in the last minute of the quarter.
4-2 Titans 10:50 Powell to Hall to Pat Maddalena. Nice tic-tac-toe passing around the horn on that one. Could be a connection you hear a lot more of this year.
5-3 Titans 10:10 Powell just deked Snider behind the goal and scored a diving wrap-around goal for his first in an Orlando sweater. Pretty impressive.
6-2 Titans 9:34 Powell again. He just took over this game. Great look from Hall to find Powell cutting and CP dove for the finish.
This pop music crap sucks. Wachovia Center rips at least three Motley Crue songs a game.
7-2 Titans 7:35 McLellan from Powell. No. 19 had no angle but dunked it over Miller for the score.
Titans will definitely score some goals this year. They’re moving the ball well and they obviously have guys that can finish. Seven goals and Ryan Boyle’s name hasn’t been called.
Scorpions: now you’re talking. Somebody reading my blog?
8-2 Titans 5:355 More speak-of-the-devil material. Boyle just finished a diving shot (nice hang time, brother) off a feed from Park. Miller doesn’t agree that Boyle wasn’t in the crease, and the Wings throw the challenge flag (I didn’t actually see a flag but it sounds cooler).
Wait for it … the goal stands. Wings lose a timeout.
8-3 Titans 5:23 Westervelt scores for Philly, ending a scoring drought that was approaching 15 minutes.
Great outlet passing up the floor from Vinc. He’s creating some offense for the Titans. Westervelt looks strong for Philly, by the way.
8-4 Titans 13:55 Crosbie from Bill McGlone to get the Wings within four.
Sorry folks. Got caught up talking to Casey Connor from Under Armour and NLL Commish George Daniel. Philly’s Tom Hajek and Orlando’s John Orsen (good to see him back and healthy) got into it and Orsen got a game misconduct about midway through the quarter.
9-4 Titans 12:46 Maddalena from Hall.
10-4 Titans 5:01 Powell with his third goal of the game, off a fastbreak. Another assist from Hall.
Daniel says the Titans have season-ticket holders from all over the state, as far north as Gainesville, over to Tampa, down to Jupiter. Good to hear. He also said the upper level directly above where I’m sitting has people sitting there. So I’m thinking the crowd figure will be in the 7-8,000 range. Speaking of which, there’s a great wave going on right now.
11-4 Titans 3:11 Casey Powell’s having a game. Good start to the year for him. Four goals and an assist.
12-4 Titans 1:56 Boyle was hogtied in the corner but one-handed it to Alrich, who scored his first of the game. Pretty sick play.
12-6 Titans 13:13 Bill McGlone just scored a pretty impressive and hard-to-recreate goal. Casey Connor, who played with McGlone at Maryland, described it as a typical McGlone play. Just kinda flew at the goalie and waved his stick around until finally finishing. McGlone had a huge year a few seasons ago with the old Chicago Shamrox so the Wings could do well to get him back on that track.
Five assists for Jordan Hall on the night.
Okay buckle up for this one. Two fights, Rory Smith just got tossed, Snider’s getting doused with beer and popcorn in the penalty box. This is GOOD for business. And it leads to a “Let’s go Titans” chant — first of the game.
So here’s what went down, Snider and Smith have been close to going at it all game (with some history). But Snider went after Orlando’s Koneczny in the fourth. At 5-10, 180, he’s not exactly a heavyweight. He hung in there but Snider landed some bombs at the end.
So after they went to the box, Smith and Hajek squared off. One ref tried to break it up at the beginning, but both side-stepped him. It was a long fight, but Smith was definitely the winner. He got some good shots in, especially at the end. And right afterward he immediately gestured right at Snider in the penalty box, either challenging him to a future dance (which seems inevitable) or to say “That should have been us.”
At that point, the rans started raining drinks on Snider in the box. The Wing spent some time pointing out the unruly fans and we had about a half-hour delay.
To be honest, I don’t think the Titans could have dreamed of a better scenario. The league’s top fighter beats up one of their guys, so their best fighter sticks up for him and cleans up the opponent, getting ejected to a raucous cheer from the home crowd.
And with three minutes left we have our third fight of the game. Orlando’s Matt McLeod goes after Philly’s Bobby Snider and winds up ejected. Closer fight this time but might have to give the edge to Snider in this one. McLeod waves to fire up the crowd on his way out. Three Titans hanging out in the tunnel right now: pretty hilarious.
13-7 Titans 1:58 Didn’t realize there were any players left to score. Bill Greer gets this one, after Westervelt had put one up for Philly.
Gotta head back to Grandma’s house in Ormond Beach (despite the extremely tempting postgame party).
Orlando leading scorers: Powell (4, 1), Hall (0, 6), Maddalena (2, 2)
Philadelphia leading scorers: Westervelt (3, 0), Teat (2, 2), Giles (1, 2)
Final attendance: 8,145
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