WINGS WIN, START SEASON 2-0
It's was cold outside but the game was hot inside Hartman Arena as the Wichita Wings took on northern rivals the Omaha Kings. Despite the tight score taking fans out of their seats, cheering, as the game literally came down to the last seconds - the Wings were able to pull out a win, 7-6.
Omaha forced an up tempo playing style on the Wings from kickoff and then the Orange had to work to force the Kings to slow the pace of the game down - and play their more cerebral and patient style. Sometimes it worked - as when the Wings had five unanswered goals between 11:46 of the second quarter and 9:36 of the fourth. Sometimes, as in the fourth when the Kings stormed ahead with three goals of their own, it didn't.
"I’m glad we got the W last night, we seemed a step slow a lot of the night," said Coach Roger Downing, who also suited up for the game in the team's new "retro" 1988-1989 season style kits.
The "golden-era" Wings jerseys might have been good luck for the team on their way to the win, but they also have a new charm on the field, rookie Bransyn Felty.
"Felty was great again, he’s extremely coachable and will continue to get better and better. It’s a privilege to have him on the team," said Downing.
Felty was the player of the game in just his second pro MASL2 match with four goals, followed by Downing himself who had two goals, and Kevin Ten Eyck also turned in a noteworthy performance with two assists and solid work on defense.
Tripping was the blue card of choice for both teams, with Taylor Henry and Ethan Doud for the Wings, and the Kings' Morgan Penn, Murilo Ceruli and David Rojas picking up time in the sin bin for the infraction. Rojas apparently liked his tim in the box so much that in the fourth quarter, he returned to sit for five minutes - this time for Unsporting Behavior.
All the penalty minutes only resulted in one power play goal, however, that one tapped in by the Wings' own Taylor Henry. Minutes later the Kings got a little revenge - getting on the scoreboard with a shorthanded goal at the end of a Wichita Wings' power play.
Aaron Parrott spent a total of 60 minutes in goal and racked up 18 saves.
"Parrott was solid all night as I knew he would be," said Downing. "He’s been training great all week and it led to him playing great in the game."
Parrott had a "solid" defense in front of him all night, who helped him block some of the total of 33 shots on goal by the Kings. Helping out was a familiar face to the Orange Army - defender Brent Hobson returning after knee surgery.
"Having Brent back gives us another leader on the field. He brings a calmness to the team that we need at times," said Downing.
The Wings return to the field this coming weekend with two games at Hartman Arena. The team has struggled in the past with back-to-back games and Downing said he has a game plan to try and secure two wins against a MASL2 rival.
"The Colorado Inferno always plays tough and I’d expect nothing different," 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.
"Next weekend's back-to-back will be interesting as last year 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."
Tickets for the two games, 7 p.m. on Saturday January 8 and 5 p.m. on Sunday January 9, are available at: https://www.hartmanarena.com or at the box office at 8151 N Hartman Arena Dr. Park City, Kan.