The New York Riptide and Philadelphia Wings kicked off the season on Saturday night. Cameron Dunkerley, the 24 year old goalie from Orangeville, Ontario made his first career opening night start in the NLL. The Wings jumped out to an early lead after newly acquired Holden Cattoni lit the lamp for his first goal in a Wings jersey just over a minute and a half into the game. In the other goal, Zach Higgins began his 2023-2024 season on fire, not allowing a goal in the entire first quarter.
After one quarter of play, Philadelphia held a 3-0 lead after getting scores from three different players. The Wings got another goal from Sammy LeClair to go up 4-0 just two minutes into the second quarter. Mitch Jones scored his first goal of the season with just under nine minutes left in the first half to go up 5-0. Jay Thorimbert answered and got the Riptide on the board off the ensuing faceoff.
Connor Kearnan got his first off the year a minute later off a feed from Jeff Teat to make the score 5-2. Just over a minute after that, Holden Cattoni stopped the Riptide run with his second goal of the game. Mitch Wilde answered Cattoni’s goal with 5 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, quickly followed by Connor Kearnan’s first of the season to pull the Riptide back to within two goals at 6-4. The Riptide got one more goal before half from Damon Edwards to cap a 5-2 run to close the quarter.
Blaze Riorden started the second half with a highlight reel goal to put the Wings back up by two. After a Philadelphia penalty, Blaze Riorden completed his hattrick scoring a shorthanded goal to put the Wings up 8-5. Jeff Teat scored his first goal of the new season to make the game 8-6, but the third quarter continued to be all Wings as Alex Pace extended the lead back to three with his first goal of the season. With six minutes left in the quarter Kiel Matisz put a stop to the Wings run, scoring his first goal in a Riptide uniform after being traded from Philadelphia in the offseason. Ben Macintosh notched his second of the game a minute later to put the Wings back up by three goals.
Kiel Matisz kicked off the fourth quarter with his second goal on the day to bring the Riptide back to within two goals at 10-8. However, Mitch Jones was quick to answer with his second goal of the game to get the Wings’ lead back up to three goals. After a score in transition by Mike McCannell, Larson Sundown scored on the Powerplay for the Riptide and brought New York back to within three goals. Less than a minute later, Blaze Riorden scored his fourth goal of the game off a feed from Mitch Jones to put the game out of reach. Reilly O’Connor found the back of the net with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth to make the score final 13-10.
Connor Kearnan led the Riptide offense with two goals and three assists to pick up where he left off last season as the team’s second leading scorer. “I thought the O was good all around. If you look back on the tape, you’ll see us setting picks, using the picks and getting great chances. We just got to bury them.” Kearnan and the rest of the Riptide offense outshot the Wings by nine, but were thwarted by Zach Higgins, who made making 49 saves on the night and collected the win.
Following the game, Head Coach Dan Ladouceur remained positive, reflecting on the team’s three-goal loss: “When we look at the film back, we’re going to see we had a lot of opportunities early. We didn’t bury them when we had opportunities, and that seemed to be the theme for the night.” The Riptide will have next week off before returning home to play the Halifax Thunderbirds on December 16th.