New England Black Wolves (2-4) at Buffalo Bandits (1-4)
At KeyBank Center
Friday, February 17th, 7:30 p.m.
Live on NLLTV.com
Last Game: New England fell 17-15 at Georgia on February 11th. Buffalo lost 18-10 to Toronto on February 3rd .
Next Game: These teams play the second game of a home-and-home series at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Players to Watch: New England – Shawn Evans (13 goals, 25 assists) leads the Black Wolves in points (38). He had four goals and eight assists in last week’s loss to the Swarm. Kevin Crowley (16 goals, 13 assists) currently leads New England in goals. He had a season-high five goals with three assists Saturday. Kevin Buchanan (five goals, 12 assists) had three goals and four assists. Evan Kirk had a season high 52 saves.
Buffalo – Alex Kedoh Hill (six goals, three assists) led the Bandits in scoring last week with two goals and an assist. Ryan Benesch (12 goals, 17 assists) leads the team in both categories so far this season. He had one goal and two assists in the contest. Mark Steenhuis (six goals, 12 assists) is currently second on the team in assists. Both Craig England (five goals, two assists) and Dhane Smith (three goals, three assists) had two goals in the loss.
- Shawn Evans (three goals, five assists), Kevin Crowley (three goals, four assists) and Pat Saunders (two goals, four assists) led the Black Wolves in scoring in New England’s home opening win over Buffalo on January 28th.
- Ryan Benesch (one goal, four assists), Mitch Jones (two goals, two assists) and Anthony Malcom (one goal, three assists) led the Bandits in scoring in Buffalo’s 12-13 loss to New England on January 28th.
- Evans (four goals, eight assists) had season-highs in both categories at Georgia. He has also taken 20 or more shots in each of the last four games.
- Evans is fifth in the NLL in assists (25), sixth in points (38), and leads the league in shots (115).
- Evan Kirk currently leads the NLL in saves (250).
- New England allowed a season high 17 goals in last week’s loss to the Swarm.
- Steve Priolo (five goals, seven assists) leads the league in short-handed assists (3) as well as defensive scoring.
- Buffalo has converted 60% of their power play opportunities, 12-of-20, the second-highest percentage in the league.
- New England shares the league lead with Georgia in short-handed goals (6).
- Buffalo is third in the NLL this season in goals per game (13.0).
- New England (55.0) leads the league in average shots per game.
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
“It’s disappointing when you let a game like (Georgia) slip away. It was satisfying coming back, and we competed against one of the teams that look like they’re at the top of the pile, but the way it unraveled leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You try and take positives about what you did well, but at the end of the day, disappointing to let one slip away.”
Offense looked more explosive:
“Yeah, they were certainly better, probably the best they’ve looked I would say. The hard thing for us is the breakdowns. They were all kind of measurable. They were mistakes that we talk about all of the time, and it was a different guy making a different mistake at a different time that cost us a goal. There’s no real pattern to it. A guy would break down on this play, and a guy would break down on this play, and they were so distinct and so different. That’s the frustrating part. You’re getting guys making these mistakes, and you’re walking them through them, and you’re teaching them. That’s the challenge we have right now.”
Challenge of playing two games in three days against the same team?
“The nice thing is it’s the same team. I think that makes the real difference. We had some tough ones last year where, I think that Saskatchewan-Toronto week, we played Friday at Mohegan and then Saturday in Toronto against a team that was waiting for us, and it worked out for us; we won. Those are tough, when you’re playing back-to-back and a team is fresh. Now we’re playing the same opponent, there is a day in between, so it’s as good a scenario as you can have for a back-to-back or a double weekend.”
Is the chemistry starting to click again?
“It kind of feels like it over the last three games. They put up good numbers in the Buffalo game. We were a little stymied in the Rochester game, but I think we still created good looks. I think Vinc played quite a game. And then obviously, this weekend, we put up 15. It feels like they’re becoming more dangerous. It feels like we’re not going to go through those extended periods of drought, or at least not producing chances. We scored 15, but I think we had a lot of really good chances outside of that that could have dropped for us as well. I think we were pretty dangerous all game long against Georgia, so hopefully that’s a sign that it is clicking. They’re getting a level of comfort that we’re going to be able to get on a bit of a sustained roll here.”
Speaking of chances, Georgia had 70 against Evan Kirk. Do you have to limit those a little bit this time around this weekend?
“Always. That’s what you’re trying to do. That’s what you try to accomplish as a defense. You want to have some sort of non-descript possessions. You can get a shot anytime you want in lacrosse, but what you want to do is make sure that they are not of the dangerous variety. A guy flogging it at the net late in the shot clock, those are the types of things you want to get. It’s a shot on goal, but it’s not a quality shot. Limiting the shots sometimes is difficult, but limiting the quality of shots is what the goal is.”
Next Game: The Black Wolves return to Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday at 1 p.m. for Military Appreciation Day. Get tickets: bit.ly/2kAwfYR