Uncasville — Kevin Crowley picked up where he left off and a re-tooled New England Black Wolves’ defense passed its first major test of the season, clamping down on a high-powered Georgia Swarm offense in the second half of a 13-11 victory before 5,489 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
A year after scoring a career-high 45 goals with eight hat tricks, Crowley had four goals as the Black Wolves rallied from a 9-5 deficit to beat the defending National Lacrosse League champions in the season opener for both teams.
Shawn Evans began his quest for an unprecedented sixth straight 100-point season with two goals and seven assists while Seth Oakes chipped in with two goals.
Newcomers John LaFontaine, David Brock, Adam Bomberry and goalie Aaron Bold — all acquired in the offseason to improve the defense and transition — weathered a seven-goal run by the Swarm, holding Georgia to just three goals after halftime.
Brock and LaFontaine introduced themselves to their new fan base eight minutes into the game, combining for the first goal with LaFontaine providing the assist. One minute later, LaFontaine scored on an assist from Matt Spangler to make it 2-1.
Goals by Crowley, Oakes and Kyle Buchanan pushed the New England lead to 5-2, and the Black Wolves appeared to be in firm control.
But Georgia, the highest scoring team in the NLL last year, reeled off seven straight goals during a span of 18 minutes, 49 seconds that stretched from the end of the first quarter into the first 59 seconds of the third quarter. Six different Swarm players contributed as the visitors built a 9-5 lead.
Oakes finally broke a scoring drought of 21 minutes, 59 seconds, however, and the Black Wolves began their rally.
Goals by Kevin Buchanan and Evans made it 9-8, and then Reilly O’Connor followed a pair of Crowley goals with one of his own to give New England an 11-10 lead early in the fourth.
Evans and Crowley added goals later in the quarter to make it 13-11, and the Black Wolves killed off a pair of Georgia power plays in the closing minutes. Bold made a number of difficult stops down the stretch, finishing with 33 saves on the night.
Randy Staats and Jesse King each had three goals for the Swarm while Shayne Jackson scored twice.
The Black Wolves will be in action next on December 23rd when they head to Saskatchewan to take on the Rush. Game time is set for 10:30 pm ET.