Wings Clinch Postseason Berth with Thrilling Overtime Win
The Philadelphia Wings struck overtime gold against Georgia for the third time this season, and this one made some history.
Blaze Riorden scored a shorthanded goal 1:42 into overtime to give the Wings an 11-10 victory, which clinched a playoff berth for the first time in the modern franchise's era. The Wings will take the Wild Card position and cross over to the West Conference for the postseason.
The win was a massive team effort that included hat tricks from Ben McIntosh and Corey Small, five points and 10 loose balls for Kyle Jackson, a five-point game for Kevin Crowley, six assists from captain Kiel Matisz, a 19-for-24 faceoff night for Trevor Baptiste, and a 53-save effort from Zach Higgins.
Much like the last overtime win in Georgia back in January, the Wings had to work from behind for much of the contest. Philadelphia had deleted two one-goal deficits and a two-goal deficit in the first half, with McIntosh completing a first-half hat trick, before Georgia scored just before halftime to take a 6-5 lead at the break. The Swarm then scored two more early in the third quarter to take an 8-5 lead 4:06 into the frame.
Seven seconds later, Ryan Wagner scored just his second goal of the season to touch off what became a five-goal run that gave the Wings a 10-8 lead that was in place with just over a minute to play. But as will happen in the NLL, Georgia erased that in the span of sixteen seconds, knotting things at 10-10 with 48 seconds to go.
Georiga nearly won it right at the end of regulation during a goalmouth scramble; although the ball didn't get over the line, the Swarm did draw a holding penalty in the Wings' fury to keep it out. That gave Georgia a power play to start the overtime, and their first possession saw the Wings finish it off with a stellar group defensive effort that resulted with a blocked shot bouncing harmlessly into the stick of Higgins.
Immediately the goaltender flung a 150-foot pass towards Riorden coming out of the front door of the bench. The ball eluded Riorden and bounced to the corner, where he arrived along with two Georgia defenders. But Riorden was able to gain possession in the corner, slip between the pair of Swarm players and get to the edge of the crease, where he took to the air and tucked the ball over the shoulder of Mike Poulin.
It was Riorden's second goal of the game, his second overtime winner against Georgia this season, and his sixth overall tally against the Swarm this season.
The Wings will open the NLL playoffs against Colorado/Calgary next Friday/Saturday in a one-game first round. The winner will move on to a best-of-three semifinal later in May.
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