WINGS WIN BIG, AND NOW TAKE THEIR GAME ON THE ROAD
NEW WICHITA WING LEADS 17-4 VICTORY, NOW THEY TAKE THEIR GAME ON THE ROAD
Woven into the excitement of seeing the first Hall of Fame class of original Wings and the blowout score of 17-4, was the addition of a brand new Wichita Wing. Lucas Sousa joined the team on Friday and by Sunday, he was named player of the game.
"Lucas was amazing Friday in training and he carried it into the match on Sunday," enthused owner Blake Shumaker. "He gives us the final element we were missing to be able to force opposing defenses to try and take something away. If they play man-to-man he will win the battle, so he forces them into a zone which allows us to move the ball and find easier scoring opportunities for other players."
Lucas felt very comfortable in his first game as a Wing, which was a match up of the second place Wings (7-2, with two additional exhibition wins) and the seventh place Falls Town Flyers (2-8).
"I adapt very quickly and the guys took me under their wings," said Lucas. "They gave me confidence to do what I do best without worrying about anything."
The transfer from the Kansas City Comets definitely wasn't worried about being the new guy. Lucas scored five times during his debut in orange.
It was apparent to the fans when the first quarter ended that the game was going to ultimately go the Wings' way. Lucas said the players knew, too.
"We knew in the first quarter that we had it in our hands, however they had a couple dangerous players that could give us trouble. They fought hard until the end. Indoor is a crazy game and anything can happen so we had to make sure there was no chance for a comeback. We did get a little comfortable, but that’s natural in games like that," said Lucas.
Blowouts can be a lot of fun - when it's your team on the winning side. But they are also valuable to the team and the coaching staff.
"First, there’s a lot of positives that can be taken away from a blowout score line. Head coach Roger Downing was able to minimize minutes for a few of the guys who’d been dealing with small injuries, said Shumaker. "Second, it’s a confidence builder for the team as a whole. They believe in each other and they can see that the roster decisions from the coach are working to help them get the results they want."
Lucas had a lot to do with the lopsided score with his 13 shots on-goal and five balls in the back of the net. But for him, this weekend was all about getting to know his teammates, the history of the Wichita Wings and the legacy of players like the men inducted into the Hall of Fame, and enjoying the win in Hartman Arena - with the crowd on *his* side this time.
"The most important thing is the win. We scored some great goals and also missed a lot of opportunities, however we managed to win," Lucas said, adding "I was super excited and I had to present myself to the fans, so I tried my best to do well. The atmosphere was amazing! Wichita does have amazing fans, and the Orange Army deserves nothing but lots of goals and great wins like yesterday."
It wasn't just the Lucas show at Hartman Arena though, 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.
Kevin Ten Eyck had a standout game with two goals and three assists, while Nico scored a hat trick.
The next few games will leave the men in orange without their sixth attacker - the Orange Army. Owner 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."
But, he added, the fans have a role in this month-long journey, too.
"They love all the social media support. The players follow the comments and shares. That engagement is the key to our success. We’re all working hard to make everyone proud of this team," said Shumaker.
So download Twitter, Facebook and join Instagram this week, Orange Army, the team will need their sixth attacker next weekend. They take on the New Mexico Runners on March 1.