Kevin Crowley was ready for his closeup. Thrust into the role of focal point of the Wings offence with the trade of Dan Dawson, Crowley scored four goals to lead Philadelphia to a 13-8 win over the visiting Buffalo Bandits in the National Lacrosse League season opener for both teams last night. He got a lot of help from a pair of new teammates. Kevin Buchanan, acquired from Buffalo in an off-season trade, had a hat trick and three assists against his old team. Jordan Hall, who came over from Rochester in the Dawson deal, scored once and added six assists. Rookie Ethan Farrell scored a pair of spectacular diving goals for the Wings.
The story for the Bandits was discipline. They spent a third of the game shorthanded and Philadelphia capitalized with four power play goals in 10 chances. Buffalo’s over-exuberance was costly: they took four penalties for roughing, three for illegal cross-checking and two for holding. Included among those were a pair of five-minute majors to Mark Steenhuis and Tracey Kelusky. All four of Philly’s PP goals came in a row from the 14:08 mark of the first period to 5:43 of the second and gave the Wings a 6-2 lead. They had control of the game the rest of the way.
Brandon Miller was excellent in the Philadelphia net, stopping 43 of the 51 shots he faced for an .843 save percentage. At the other end, Anthony Cosmo was pulled after giving up eight goals on just 28 shots (.714 SP). Kurtis Wagar plugged the leak well for the Bandits, posting an .871 save percentage by stopping 27 of the 31 shots the Wings directed at him, but it was too late by the time he came in. Aaron Wilson was the lone multiple goal scorer for Buffalo with a pair. Fellow Bandits newcomers Shawn Williams, David Brock and Dhane Smith scored goals.
Speaking of newcomers, the Wings have plenty in their lineup. Ethan Farrell stood out in more ways than one. He was rocking the Brian Langtry look—his hair covered the nameplate on the back of his number 3 jersey. Farrell captured the eyes of the 9,096 in attendance for more than just his flow, though. Farrell’s first NLL goal was an athletic crease dive on which he tucked the ball around Cosmo and just inside the far post as he flew almost all the way across the crease. His second goal was even more spectacular. Farrell dove from the back left of the crease to dunk the ball into the top right corner to produce an early candidate for goal of the year.
Paul Rabil’s Philadelphia debut was far less successful. Playing primarily in the offensive zone, Rabil collected a pair of assists but turned the ball over eight times and clearly showed the rust of not having played indoor lacrosse for almost a year. Considering one of his greatest assets is his cannon of a shot, Rabil looked surprisingly hesitant to shoot, declining several open shooting lanes in favour of passing. On a night when most things went right for the Wings, though, it’s easy to see that hesitancy as a desire to take a team approach with the club he’s wanted to play for since he entered the league.
The Bandits have a chance to turn things around tonight when they host Minnesota in the Swarm’s season opener. The Wings are off till next Saturday when they travel to Toronto for the Rock’s 2013 home debut.
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