Uncasville, Conn. – The Toronto Rock entered Sunday’s game at Mohegan Sun Arena without a win, but the New England Black Wolves fully expected a struggle.
That’s just what they got from the defending East Division champions, who repeatedly rallied from multiple-goal deficits before taking a 16-15 lead with 18.3 seconds left in regulation on a power play goal by Stephan Leblanc.
That’s when Shawn Evans once-again displayed the skills that have made him a two-time National Lacrosse League MVP.
Coming out of a timeout with 6.8 seconds left in regulation, Evans scored his sixth goal of the game, beating Toronto goalie Brandon Miller with a scoop shot in traffic.
Then, 49 seconds into overtime, Kyle Buchanan converted a pass from Evans for the game winner, beating Miller short side for a 17-16 victory that lifted the Black Wolves to 4-2 on the year.
“Evy was drawing guys like he did all game,” Buchanan said, explaining how Evans set him up for the winning goal. “He made a great play and flipped it to me and I put it in. I was stopped earlier in the game far side. I thought, if I got another chance, I’d go short side.”
The six goals were a season-high for Evans, who also had six assists and a season-high 12 points. Pat Saunders and Kevin Crowley each had four goals and two assists while Kevin Buchanan tied a season high with five assists.
“It was just one of those things,” said Evans of the goal that tied the game. “The ball got on my stick, Crowley set a good pick. He (Miller) is a good goalie. Thank God it went in.”
With his performance Sunday, Evans jumped two spots on the NLL career points list. He is now 12th all-time with 831 points. One of the players he passed Sunday is current New England Black Wolves’ offensive coordinator Tracey Kelsuky, who drew up the play for the game-tying goal in regulation.
“He’s so dynamic,” Black Wolves head coach Glenn Clark said. “It’s funny. Some guys have the “It” factor. I don’t know how he does it. He just gets it done. He’s a little unorthodox, but it’s kind of like you let the horses run a little bit.”
Evans, who scored three straight in a span of one minute, 43 seconds at one point in the third quarter, also moved up to 23rd all-time in career goals. He now has 299.
The Black Wolves needed every goal because Toronto, now 0-6, refused to wilt after falling behind by deficits of 4-1, 6-3 and 12-9. The Rock made another run late in the game, erasing a 14-12 deficit with three straight goals in a span of three minutes, 11 seconds to take a 15-14 lead in the closing minutes.
Saunders tied the game with 2:01 left on a power play goal, but then Leblanc struck in the closing seconds for what appeared to be the game winner. He left too much time for Evans.