Wings, Inferno set for doubleheader

by Lisa Sillaway

The Wichita Wings are taking the field for a doubleheader against rivals Colorado Inferno this weekend after pulling out a hard-fought victory January 2nd that literally came down to the last seconds with an Orange win, 7-6. 

The exciting game gave the fans something to cheer about. This weekend, Coach Roger Downing hopes the team will leave the Orange Army cheering - twice. 

"This weekends back-to-back will be interesting because last season we struggled on back-to-backs," said Downing. "Being at home I plan to utilize my roster and bring some excitement to Hartman Arena both days."

Like the Omaha Kings last week, Colorado will give the Wings a tough battle on the pitch.

"Colorado always plays tough and I’d expect nothing different this weekend," said Downing. 

The Inferno have yet to play a game in the young season. Last year, the two teams split their final weekend of games with a Wings' win, 11-8, and a Colorado win, 6-16. The win by the Wings was a fairly quiet game but the Colorado win was marred by 16 penalty minutes (12 of which were from the Wings) and a Wings' Red Card. 

The coach has a gameplan for a dual victory, however. Maybe minus the Red Card.

"Colorado always pushes us, so we should have two great matches with them this weekend.  They like to get up and down the pitch, we will have to stay disciplined and limit our mistakes," said Downing. 

In addition, Downing is looking for some solid action midfield. 

"I’m looking for my midfielders to step up this weekend and put some numbers on the board. We were sluggish last weekend so a lot of my guys have a lot to prove," said Downing. 

One player with very little to prove this weekend is rookie Bransyn Felty who has scored six in his first two professional games. And, while the kindergarten teacher and Buhler High school head soccer coach is bringing the crowd to its feet during home games - the young player says the appreciation is mutual. 

"The Orange Army were huge last Sunday. They kept us in the game fighting with their energy and support," said Felty.

With a two-game weekend on deck, the Wings will need the Army at their back. 

"We are more fit this year than we were last year for back to backs.  We also have more depth this year.  We will be using our depth this weekend to run fresher bodies at Colorado, especially on Sunday," said Downing, who has been taking the field while players sit out, injured or ill. 

Alfonso Lopez is still in Covid-19 protocol ("C19") and rookie Guilherme Oliveria is yet to be cleared to play, confirmed Downing. "Other than that we are good to go, that can change daily, however."

Hamersky is ready, said Downing, who added that the Parrott brothers had things covered while he healed from a concussion suffered in the home opener. Aaron Parrott had a solid performance in goal against a tough Omaha Kings offense while his brother, Taylor, serves as a third Wings keeper.

In addition to Hamersky's return the Wings get Kieran Laking back from C19, and are set to introduce an exciting new rookie forward, Juan Zamora. 

"Juan is going to be a fan favorite," says Wichita Wings President Blake Shumaker. "He's a player we're very familiar with after he played a few seasons outdoor with FC Wichita. Adjusting to the indoor game takes time, but there's no doubt he's going to be an exciting player for Wings fans to watch." 

Fully staffed, the team is ready for dual victories.

"We are playing one game at a time, getting better one shift at a time.  If we continue to do that we see ourselves back in the championship," predicted Downing.

Tickets for the two games, 7 p.m. on Saturday January 8, and 5 p.m. on Sunday January 9, are available at the Hartman Arena box office at 8151 N Hartman Arena Dr. Park City, Kan.