January 10, 2011

Powell Scores Five in Boston Debut

by Alex Lee | NLL.com


* NLL Floor Pass: Previews, Audio
* Audio Highlights: Conference Call
* Calgary Spoils Stealth's Banner-Raising Night
* Powell Scores Five in Victorious Blazers Debut
* 'Necks Edge Buffalo in Kelusky's Return
* Duch Ends OT Stalemate for Stealth Victory
* Point Lifts Knighthawks over Swarm in Overtime
* Watson, Rock Stump Rush in NLL Opener

PHILADELPHIA -- The Boston Blazers defeated the Philadelphia Wings 10-6 in the Wings' home opener in front of a raucous crowd of 7,940 Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The Blazers were led by newcomer and reigning NLL MVP Casey Powell (see video below), who had five goals and two assists. Powell didn't waste any time making his presence felt with his new team, as he recorded a point in six out of the Blazers' first seven goals. 

"This is a franchise first coming out of the gates 1-0," Powell said. "That was our goal and that's what we did. It was a great team win for us and great for momentum for the rest of the season."

The game was a bit sloppy and really started out as a defensive struggle with both teams struggling to bang off the rust early in the game. There wasn't a goal until the 8:49 mark of the first quarter, when Philadelphia's Drew Westervelt (1 goal, 2 assists) opened the scoring. From there, a steady back and forth pace ensued. Neither team led by more than a goal in the first half, as Boston took a 5-4 lead into halftime. 

From there it was all Blazers. They held Philadelphia to two goals in the second half, outshooting the Wings 51 to 33. For Blazers coach Matt Sawyer, this marked his first win as a NLL head coach. 

"It wasn't a pretty win. We gutted that one out, but sometimes those are the prettiest. We didn't have our game going tonight. Clearly our defense and goaltending led the way. It was a team effort top to bottom," said Sawyer. 

Blazers goalie Anthony Cosmo had 27 saves on the night to pace the defense. 

"Our defense played great and so did our goalie. It was a good start, but we have to look forward to Edmonton," said Powell, who along with 2010 NLL point leader Josh Sanderson (2 goals, 4 assists), made his Blazers debut in the win. Forward Dan Dawson added eight assists on the night for Boston. 

For Philadelphia, the loss dropped them to 14-11 all time in home openers and spoiled head coach John Tucker's Wings coaching debut. Wings goalie Brandon Miller had a busy night with 41 saves, and kept the Wings in the game. 

"I think we were sloppy at times," Tucker said. "We played well in the first quarter offensively and were moving, but then we got to standing around the outside on the perimeter. I thought defensively we played a pretty good game and our goalkeeper was great. We have a lot to work on."

Athan Iannucci, the NLL's single season goal scoring record holder, had a successful return from a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season. Iannucci had a hand in half of the Wings' goals, recording one goal and two assists. Bill McGlone and Alex Turner each netted a pair of goals as well for Philadelphia.

The Wings have a new coach and a lot of new faces on a team that went 5-11 last year, but Tucker said that does not excuse the loss. 

"We just looked a bit off tonight. I take full responsibility. We are going to get better each week so hopefully against Buffalo, we get better," Tucker said. 

Both teams play next Saturday night at 7:30 PM with the Wings hosting the Bandits at the Wells Fargo Center and the Blazers returning home to Boston to play the Edmonton Rush. 

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