What a difference 11 weeks can make. Just ask Philadelphia Wings head coach Tony Resch.
The leader of the defending Major Indoor Lacrosse League champions was a much happier man Saturday night following his team's 19-16 semifinal playoff win over the Buffalo Bandits, and it didn't just involve what went on on the turf.
On Jan. 7, Resch's team dropped a 17-13 decision to the Bandits on opening night. The day before, Resch's van was stolen and its contents included his team's brand-new game jerseys. The van was later recovered without much damage but the jerseys are still unaccounted for.
The news was much better on the eve of Resch's latest shuffle off to Buffalo. The coach's wife, Mary, gave birth to a healthy, 11-pound, 8-ounce boy, Conor Anthony, on Friday.
"It was touch and go as to whether or not I'd be here at all," said Resch, who was with his wife for the birth. "There will be lots of other games, but I don't know if there will be lots of other kids.
"My wife was the real hero though. She's a trouper. She was in this building last year when we won the championship and she knows how important a Bandits-Wings playoff game is. She persuaded me to come here and take care of business."
By taking care of business, the Wings will have a chance to play for the championship on their home floor April 8. They'll face the winner of today's Boston at Rochester semifinal.
"We've only won the championship once at home, and that was in 1989," Resch said. "I was a player on that team and, to tell you the truth, it seems more like a thousand years ago. It would be real nice to do it there again."
Bandits forward Derek Laub ignited his team's second-half comeback by scoring the first two goals of the third quarter, in a span of just 30 seconds. The first was off a beautiful feed from Bob Hamley and the second was off a rebound. His scores trimmed an 11-5 halftime deficit to 11-7.
"Dallas (Eliuk) is a perfect goalie for me to face," said Laub. "He makes great saves on high shots. But I was able to fake him high and go low. I've learned that's the way to beat him."
Saturday's gathering of 10,557 was the second-smallest home crowd in team history, better only than the crowd of 9,052 that showed up against the New York Saints on Jan. 4, 1992 -- the first game in team history.
"It (the crowd) may have been smaller than usual, but to tell you the truth, it might have been the loudest crowd of the year," Laub said. "Their noise definitely picked us up in the second half and gave us a push."
The Bandits finished 3-6, matching the total number of losses in their first three seasons when they were a cumulative 25-6 with two championships.