Wings fall to first-place Rock

Brodie Merrill and the Wings open their season on Friday against Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Wings)

First half scoring woes continue to plague the Wings, who fell to the first place Toronto Rock, 13-8. The Wings (5-5) scored just one first quarter goal while the visiting Rock (8-3) mounted an early 4-1 lead.  Toronto scored their first goal less than a minute into the game and never looked back.

“When we get into those holes, which we’ve seen, it’s been tough for us to get out,” said Wings head coach Johnny Mouradian. “We’ve to get that chemistry and our shooting percentage to where it needs to be to score those goals early on so that it’s a battle.”

The Rock’s Josh Sanderson scored four first half goals to fuel the early lead, while Kyle Belton added a hat trick. The Rock took a 9-5 lead into halftime and converted on each of their first half power player opportunities, while the Wings came up empty on both of theirs.

The Wings attempted to change that trend early in the second half when they scored on a shorthanded goal after a penalty for having too many men on the field.

Jordan Hall forced a turnover with a hard hit in the defensive zone and found a streaking Kevin Crowley for a breakaway goal 2:09 into the third quarter.

The Wings failed to build on that momentum, however, and came up empty on a key fourth quarter opportunity. Toronto’s Damon Edwards threw a scary elbow to the head of Kevin Buchanan. Buchanan was shaken up by the hit, but returned to action soon after. The play resulted in a five minute major penalty for Edwards, but the Wings were unable to score on the man advantage. They finished 0 for 3 on the power play.

“You’ve got to score over 50 percent [on power play opportunities],” said Mouradian. “You get back in the game through transition opportunities and penalty situations.

“Those five minutes after [Buchanan] got hit, that’s two or three goals that you have to have at that point in time.”

Toronto goaltender Nick Rose made 45 saves on 51 shots and received plenty of help from the goal posts. Many of the Wings’ shots on deflected off the crossbar. Both teams’ defenses tightened up in a close third period in which both teams traded just a goal apiece.

Crowley led the way with four goals and an assist for the Wings, while goalie Brandon Miller saved 38 of the 50 shots he faced.

With the loss, the Wings fall two and a half games behind the East-leading Rock. The streaky hosts have now dropped two in a row after enjoying a three-game win streak.

After the game, Mouradian reflected on his team’s position heading into the bye week:

“It’s a new season right now for us. We’ve got a good opportunity here with our bye week to get our injuries where we need to be. I think I can look at this lacrosse club and say there was no shortage of effort.

“This offense, we want it to be together for a long, long time. We spent a couple of years building this offense and we’ve got a lot of great pieces there. Now we’ve just got to really, really work on our chemistry and understanding of what each of them brings from a strengths standpoint.”