By Anthony Caruso
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/12/14
NLL greybeard legend John Tavares scored five goals and tallied the game-winner 55 seconds into overtime today to lift the Buffalo Bandits to a 12-11 victory over the Philadelphia in the Wings’ home opener at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Bandits went on a five-goal run to lead 8-4 at halftime and later led, 9-5, before the Wings began to rally. Philadelphia notched the final two goals of regulation, the second by Ryan Ward (four goals) with four minutes remaining for his fourth of the night, to tie the game at 11-11.
Tavares, who is 45 and the all-time NLL leading scorer, also had two assists for the Bandits, who avenged a 17-13 opening-day loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 28.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” said Wings head coach Blaine Harrison, whose team also lost Saturday and fell to 1-2. “I wouldn’t say that it’s heart breaking. It’s a long grind and I don’t think we’re going 1-17. We have to learn from it and we have an interesting division.”
The Wings were down 10-5 in the third quarter, before they went on a run of goals. Ward sparked the Wings with four of the next six goals, while Tracey Kelusky (two goals, three assists) and John Ranagan scored the other two goals.
“In the second half, I wanted to be more aggressive,” said Ward. “I got the ball more and things started to feel more comfortable after that first goal. I just wanted to attack from there.”
The Bandits forged their lead by scoring six straight after trailing 4-3. Tavares tallied three of goals with the other three goals coming from Dhane Smith, Mark Steenhuis, and Ryan Benesch.
“We started out in a nice place after a strong first quarter,” said Harrison. “We forgot those little things to be successful.
“The easiest thing in this league is to forget that stuff that makes you go. We forgot it in the second quarter, and had to re-group in halftime.”
Kyle Buchanan (two goals, two assists) gave the Wings a 4-3 lead. Kevin Crowley added a goal and four assists for the Wings while Brodie Merrill had 13 loose balls and Jordan Hall contributed 10 loose balls and four assists.
Evan Kirk had 31 saves for the Wings, but Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo was a standout with 43 saves.