Philadelphia Wings' 1995 championship game was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

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Philadelphia Wings' 1995 championship game was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the building for numerous great games. Raptors/Sixers Game 7, Doc’s no-no, 2008 NLCS Game 4 and 2008 World Series Game 5 to name a few. To be honest, I don’t know which one is the best.

But I wanted to call attention to a game that remains near and dear to me 25 years after it occurred: the 1995 Major Indoor Lacrosse League Championship Game between the Philadelphia Wings and Rochester Knighthawks.

As a kid, I adored the Wings. We had season tickets and I loved going on a Friday or Saturday night as Gary Gait and company racked up win after win. You just never knew what you might see. 

One night, it might be a 20-goal game. The next, it could be five or six fights. In fact, the first Wings game I ever went to had to be postponed in the 3rd quarter because of a brawl that involved players and fans. I was immediately hooked.

In my 10-year old mind, Gary Gait was on the same level as Mario Lemieux and Michael Jordan. One-half of the famed Gait twins that dominated the college landscape at Syracuse University, Gary served as the lacrosse version of Jordan combined with 'Pistol' Pete Maravich. He was so much better than 99 percent of the league that he would regularly try shots and passes others couldn’t even conceive, let alone execute. I’ll never forget one time on a breakaway when he placed the stick over his head and down his back before flipping a shot from between his own legs. He was a walking YouTube compilation before we knew what that was.

The 1995 MILL championship game was played on a Saturday afternoon at The Spectrum. (Weird time for a game. Felt like a bad omen.) The Rochester Knighthawks were the Wings' opponent. After years of the Wings battling with the Buffalo Bandits for the title, I hoped that the expansion Knighthawks would be nothing but a speed cushion on the way to a championship.

That wish went unfulfilled. Gary’s brother Paul led the way for Rochester in a game that was tight throughout. The Wings held a one-goal lead with just over 30 seconds left. After a Dallas Eliuk save, the Wings had a chance to manage the game to its end by maintaining possession. But a sloppy turnover behind the Wings' net led to an easy Knighthawks goal from the edge of the crease.

Now keep in mind, this is 1995 and I am 10. The most common emotion I know as a Philly sports fan, in that moment, is a cocktail of resignation and dread. Philadelphia sports teams do not come back from a calamity like that and win a game, let alone a championship. As I slunk back into my seat in the dimly lit corner of America’s Showplace, I recall the absence of sound in the building. A packed house completely silent. The noise vacuumed out of it.

The game went to overtime. I don’t know how it got there. I was still in a stupor. The Knighthawks won the faceoff to start sudden-death overtime because of course they did. It would be a matter of seconds before they’d score and ruin it for me. But then a funny thing happened. The Knighthawks didn’t even get a shot off. Shot clock violation. Wings ball.

My eyes immediately went to the Wings bench. Gary Gait came out the bench door and jogged at about three-quarters speed down the boards to the extended goal line area.

I never watched the ball. I only watched Gait. Even a 10-year old knew where the ball was eventually going. The “22” on the back of the jersey bounced up and down as Gait rolled off a down screen. 

And there he was. All alone. The best lacrosse player in the world about 15 feet out straight on with goaltender/human roadblock Steve “Chugger” Dietrich. 

The pass floated to its desired destination, the netting of Gait’s stick. He received and fired all in one motion. By the time Dietrich lunged, the shot was past him.

I don’t remember what I said or did as rubber hit net. But I’ll never forget the emotions I felt in that moment. First, relief. The investment of my 10-year old heart in a bunch of guys that played lacrosse as a part-time profession paid off. 

Then, vindication. That was my guy that made the play. Gary Gait. My hero was THE HERO.

Lastly, jubilation. The Wings were champs. Philadelphia had a winner and I was there to see it. W-I-N-G-S, WINGS.

Tony Hawk goes the extra mile to return a favor to young fan and it's epic

Tony Hawk goes the extra mile to return a favor to young fan and it's epic

You know him, you love him and now — there’s going to be a whole new level of respect for one of the greatest athletes in the world. 

Tony Hawk has been a household name for decades and even if you don’t follow the world of professional skateboarding, it’s not hard to recognize the legend that he is. 

Well, what he recently decided to do is just one of the best gestures we’ve seen in a long time. 

A boy named Cooper is a huge Hawk fan and was on a mission to send something to the pro. After chasing down and stopping his local FedEx truck down the street from his house, he asked if the delivery man could mail something for him. 

He quickly ran into his house to grab the item and returned to the truck holding a skateboard and asked if he could send it to Hawk. The board had almost been used to its limit — but on the bottom it had “Tony Hawk” and “Cooper” written on opposite ends.

It felt like a bit out of “Toy Story,” having a name written on the bottom of an item to show ownership — but the gesture was so wholesome, the delivery man said he would get that board to Hawk.  

Here comes the power of the internet. The delivery man, who is also a music artist in the making, used his platform and created a video in hopes to get in contact with the pro skater. He shared it on his TikTok u/fresh2deaf and it went viral overnight. 

@fresh2deaf

@tonyhawk ##fedex ##fedexlife ##fedexdriver

♬ original sound - fresh2deaf

Not even six hours after the initial video was posted, something epic happened — Hawk saw the video and responded to Cooper. Not only did he share his gratitude for the gesture of sending the board, but he wanted to make a fair trade and is sending him one of his own. 

@tonyhawk

♬ original sound - tonyhawk

I’m sure both boards will become memories that Cooper and Hawk will take with them forever. 

There is still good in the world — and Hawk was a clear reminder of that today. 

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Premier Lacrosse League announces 2020 Championship Series

Premier Lacrosse League announces 2020 Championship Series

Get ready lax fans, the Premier Lacrosse League is brewing something fun for the summer. 

After their inaugural season in 2019 being a huge success, many were looking forward for what was to come during their second go — though due to COVID-19, co-founder of the league, Paul Rabil, announced the postponement of the season that was supposed to kick-off at the end of May. 

The league consists of seven teams, where they hold a tour-based schedule over the course of 14 weeks. Throughout that time, teams travel to major market cities as an innovative and thrilling way to help grow the game. 10 weeks are dedicated to the regular season, with one All-Star weekend and three weeks of pure playoff chaos — in the best possible way. 

Now, while the plans have shifted, fans still have something to look forward to — as it was announced Wednesday that a new, fanless tournament, the PLL Championship Series, is set to take place this summer. 

The series is scheduled to take place July 25-August 9, weeks that were originally slotted for the 2020 Summer Olympics. It will be a 16-day event with 20 games and they will be broadcasted across NBC, NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold and will also be streamed online. 


(Image credit: Premier Lacrosse League) 

Those involved with the event will have to self-quarantine for a certain amount of time leading up to the tournament and the league has also formed a COVID-19 Medical Committee to ensure the safety of all participants. 

The Premier Lacrosse League is excited to be a leader in the return of pro sports this July,” said Rabil. Although we’ve pivoted our originally scheduled season to a full quarantined, finless model, our PLL Championship Series will bring sports fans an innovative and thrilling experience that only the best players in the world can provide. It’s taken a village of top-notch executives to develop.

While a location for the event has not been decided yet, the countdown is most certainly on. 

This tournament holds all of the potential to grow the ever-evolving game of lacrosse during a time with no sports. 

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