By Karen Troxel Borrelli, FOR THE INQUIRER

Philadelphia Wings coach Tony Resch knows one thing about championship games: You have to take advantage of your opportunities if you want to win.

The Wings didn’t do that last night. Partly it was their fault, and partly it was the excellent play by Buffalo goalie Pat O’Toole.

As a result, the Wings’ quest for a third straight Major Indoor Lacrosse League title ended in futility. They lost to the Bandits, 15-10.

O’Toole stopped 40 of 50 shots, earning him the MVP award in front of 16,230 fans at Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium.

The Bandits “like to pack it in, and that gives you low-percentage shots,” Resch said. “Then when Pat has the kind of game he did, it makes it even harder.”

The missed opportunity that best summed up Philadelphia’s frustration opened the second half. After Buffalo’s Darris Kilgour was given a game ejection, the Wings – down by 8-3 – began the half with a five-minute power play. At the end of the power play, they had managed only one goal.

“Especially in playoff games, you need to cash in on those opportunities,” said Resch. “You have to make big plays in the big games. Tonight, they made more big plays than we did.”

Surprisingly, the big plays didn’t come from Buffalo’s big names. In fact, John Tavares, Buffalo’s leading scorer, was held to only one goal. Jason Luke and Troy Cordingly led the Bandits with three goals each.

For the Wings, Gary Gait had three goals – two in the fourth quarter – while Kevin Finneran added two. Dallas Eliuk made 44 saves on 59 shots.

“Sometimes I think the John Tavareses and the Gary Gaits cancel each other out,” Resch said. “That’s when the unsung guys, the unknown guys, have to step up. They did.”

It was the fifth straight trip to the championship game for the Wings. The two teams have met for the title four previous times, and Buffalo now holds a 3-2 edge.

(Philadelphia Inquirer, April 13, 1996)

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