Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/20/15
The former Philadelphia Wings professional lacrosse team (now known as the New England Black Wolves) faced off against their longtime National Lacrosse League rivals, the Buffalo Bandits Saturday night as part of a special event at PPL Center in Allentown.
The event was dubbed the Lehigh Valley Battle LAX as the former Wings franchise, the Black Wolves, rallied for a 9-7 win, just a day after NLL teams made their final cuts. The PPL Center is the home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey team of the American Hockey League.
The Wolves – who wore Phantoms uniforms – feature several players from the former Wings, who last played in Philly in the 2014 season. One Philly player is defensive standout Brett Manney (Holy Ghost Prep, Delaware grad, Director of NXT Showcase Lacrosse and NXT LC coach). Another is offensive standout Kevin Crowley (Fusion Lacrosse coach and co-director, assistant coach at Shipley School).
“It was really thrilling to come and play in the Philadelphia area and see all the fans getting excited about professional lacrosse again back home,” said Manney, who was an assistant captain when the Wings played in Philly and became one of the most recognizable faces for the franchise. “I didn’t know that I would ever get the chance to come back and play here.
“It was great to get the win in front of our old fans. It was bittersweet coming home, but a great experience. Chopper (the Wings’ motivational fan) was here just like he was at the Wings games and the fans were fully behind us like they always were.”
The event also featured a number of youth games involving local club teams, which were held before, during and after the NLL game. The Duke’s Lacrosse Program sent a number of teams, including clubs from Dukes North and South and Dukes Young Guns. In all, several thousand people attended and several hundred players competed.
The Philadelphia Wings are one of the most recognized names in all of professional indoor lacrosse. The team played in Philadelphia for 29 years, from 1986 until 2014 as part of the National Lacrosse League (1986 to 1996 in The Spectrum and 1997 to 2014 in the Wells Fargo Center). While in Philadelphia, the Wings won six League Championships – the most titles in league history. In the summer of 2014, the Wings announced their relocation to New England.
Several Wings alums signed autographs: Tom Slate (Duke’s South Director and coach and former Downingtown East and Downingtown West head coach), Jake Bergey and Jeff Spano (Malvern Prep).
“For the kids who were able to be out on the field, which it was with the Dukes or a couple other teams, it was a once-in-a-lifetime lifetime opportunity and experience they’ll never forget,” said Slate, who played seven years with the Wings and also was an assistant coach for one season. “I don’t know who was more excited, the fathers, the mothers or the kids.
“It was a really cool experience for them to be able to go on the field and be up close to the players.”
Slate said he hopes one day an NLL team can come home to play in the Philly region. Indeed, the topic has been discussed by hockey fans and officials since the Wings moved to Connecticut.
“For Philly lacrosse and lacrosse in general, there needs to be a team in the Philly area,” he said. “I hope the powers-to-be saw a great scrimmage and the support and can work something out.”