ROAD TRIP WINS COULD SECURE PLAYOFF BERTH
ROAD TRIP WEEKEND FOR THE WINGS, WINS COULD SECURE PLAYOFF BERTH
It's going to be a long weekend for the boys in orange. A road trip to Amarillo to take on the Bombers Saturday will be followed by another day on the road to take on the New Mexico Runners Sunday afternoon. But the Wichita Wings are ready to do battle even if it's away from family and fans.
"Both games will be battles this weekend. First off, it’s always hard to get a road win. Usually teams dress their best possible squad at home so we expect a strong challenge," said Coach Roger Downing. "We plan on playing more guys on Saturday to ideally save some legs for Sunday. That being said, plans can always go out the window."
First up, fourth place Amarillo. The second-place Wings played the Bombers at home on January 4. Wichita won the match 9-6. The Bombers have a goals-for average of +7.5 and a goals differential of -4. The match will not be played at the Amarillo Civic Center due to league criteria. Instead it will be contested at a much smaller seated venue where the Bombers hold their training. This could make it more difficult for Wings fans to follow but there will be a live stream available.
Sunday are the New Mexico Runners, who sit in sixth place. The Runners have a goals-for average of +8.6 and a goals differential of -2. This game will be broadcast from the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, which is just outside of Albuquerque.
Wings have a goals-for average of +9.2 and a goals differential of +40 which leaves them in a good place heading into both games. But, don't expect them to be easy wins, these two teams like to get physical.
"The first time we played these teams the games were extremely physical. We expect the same coming in. Keeping our composure will be crucial this weekend," said Downing.
And the new guy everyone saw at the 17-4 blowout against the Falls Town Flyers last week at home? You may have thought he had a powerful left foot, as he spent most of the game scoring with it. But, you'd be wrong.
"It seems like I’m a lefty but my dominant foot is the right! It is just easy for me to use my left. I think I got it from my dad," Kansas City transfer Lucas Sousa said, laughing. "He is a true lefty."
Maybe he was just going easy on the other team's goalkeeper? Lucas joined the team last Friday and by Sunday, he was named player of the game. This weekend, now that he's settled in, maybe he'll bring out that right foot, too.
It wasn't just the Lucas show at Hartman Arena though last weekend, the entire team peppered the Falls Town Flyer goal with shots and assisted their two goalkeepers (Steve Hamersky in the first half and Aaron Parrott in the second) with a strong back line of defensive work. Downing expects some good work in goal this weekend, too.
"I look for Parrott to have a big weekend for us. His distribution and shot-stopping will be a huge part of our team success," said Downing.
The next few games will leave the men in orange without their sixth attacker - the Orange Army. Owner Blake Shumaker is confident that the extended slate of away games will be only positive for the 40th anniversary season.
"These guys take a business-like approach to team travel. They understand the traveling is an opportunity to put Wichita on the map and make the fans proud," said Shumaker. "We want to be the most professional organization that walks into every arena, restaurant and hotel. We take pride in that. They follow a very close itinerary, but one that also gives the guys time to cut loose. They will be taking Monday and Tuesdays for physical and mental recoveries. And we travel the trainers and massage therapist with the team so they are comfortable."
"This is a business trip for us, the men are focused and we know with two wins this weekend it almost certainly locks up the two-seed for us."
Wing fans can catch both games, Amarillio at 7 p.m., Saturday Feb. 29 and New Mexico is an earlier game at 4:15 p.m. March 1. Fans can also follow along as we live Tweet and post to Facebook with frequent game updates.