WINGS READY TO RECLAIM TITLE

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by Edward Moran, Daily News Sports Writer

Most professional sports teams would not be in a hurry to forget about a season that ended in a championship game.

Unless, maybe, it was a team used to winning. Like the Philadelphia Wings.

The Wings last season reached the Major Indoor Lacrosse League title game for the seventh time in eight years (they had won the last two league titles), but lost in the championship game to the Buffalo Bandits.

They are looking forward to forgetting.

“I can’t wait to get the bad taste out of my mouth,” captain Scott Gabrielsen said.

“That was one of our worst games. We went up to Buffalo and got manhandled. Now it’s time to regroup and take a look at the players we have on our roster and refocus, not as defending champions but as champs who have been dethroned and are looking to get back.”

The Wings open their season tomorrow night at the New York Saints.

Gabrielsen believes the team has the ingredients to compete for another league title.

Returning to the Wings after a season away will be forwards John McEvoy and Chris Bates. McEvoy spent last season away from the team, studying in London. Bates played last season with the Charlotte Cobras, after work and studies took him to the University of North Carolina.

“We had a few gaps last year with the departure of McEvoy and Bates and a few of our other guys,” Gabrielsen said. “But we’ve made up for that with them coming back. And we’ve picked up Matt Ogelsby.”

Ogelsby, a second-year forward, came to the Wings with Bates when Charlotte folded after last season.

The three players will be joining a roster that already includes MILL All-Pro selections Kevin Finneran, Tom Marechek, Gary Gait, and goaltender Dallas Eliuk.

Wings leadership will come from Gabrielsen, who will be starting his 83rd consecutive game in nine years, and Gait, the team’s MVP and leading scorer last season with 65 points on 43 goals and 22 assists.

The Wings will join the Flyers and Sixers in the new CoreStates Center when they host the Baltimore Thunder for their home opener next Saturday. “We’re all very excited,” Gabrielsen said.

“We’re looking forward to playing in the new arena.”

(Philadelphia Daily News, January 3, 1997)

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