Last Game: The Black Wolves won 10-9 in overtime at the Toronto Rock on March 3rd. Georgia fell 18-11 to the Calgary Roughnecks on March 4th.
Players to Watch: New England – Kevin Buchanan (12 goals, 25 assists) is second on the Black Wolves in assists and third in points (37). He led the team in scoring with four goals and three assists at Toronto. Kevin Crowley (25 goals, 24 assists) leads the team in goals and is second in points (49). He added two goals and four assists in the win. Kyle Buchanan (13 goals, 18 assists) is third on the team in goals scored and second in loose balls (77). He had four assists in the game.
Georgia – Lyle Thompson (27 goals, 37 assists) leads the Swarm in goals scored, assists, and points (64) through nine games this season. He led the team in scoring with two goals and three assists against Calgary. Jordan Hall (12 goals, 33 assists) is second on the Swarm in assists and points (45). He had three assists in the loss. Jerome Thompson (seven goals, 22 assists) is third on the team in assists and fourth in points (29). He added one goal and two assists in the game.
- New England is 0-2 against the Georgia Swarm this season. The Black Wolves lost 14-9 to the Swarm in their first meeting this season on January 20th. Georgia also won 17-15 over New England in their second meeting on February 11th.
- Shawn Evans (five goals, 11 assists), Kevin Crowley (seven goals, five assists) and Kevin Buchanan (three goals, five assists) have led the Black Wolves in scoring in the two games against Georgia this season.
- Lyle Thompson (eight goals, eight assists), Jordan Hall (seven goals, six assists) and Jerome Thompson (one goal, six assists) have led the charge for the Swarm against New England this year.
- Evans tied his season-high for points in a game (12) with four goals and a season-high eight assists against Georgia on February 11th.
- Crowley had a season-high eight points, scoring a season-high five goals against the Swarm on February 11th. He has scored a goal in every game this season for New England.
- Kevin Buchanan scored a season-high four goals against Toronto last week.
- Kyle Buchanan registered a season-high four assists last week against the Rock.
- Lyle Thompson (four goals, six assists) tied season and career-highs in both points (10) and loose balls (10) against New England on February 11th. Through nine games, he has already tied his goal total from last season (27) and set career-high totals this season in assists (37) and points (64).
- Jordan Hall scored a season-high seven points on three goals and four assists against the Black Wolves on January 20th. He needs three goals to reach 200 for his career.
- Jerome Thompson has already established career-high totals this season in both assists (22) and points (29).
- Jordan MacIntosh recorded season-highs in goals (three), assists (six) and points (nine) against New England on February 11th.
- Georgia leads the league in goals (130), assists (202) and total points (332).
- Both of Georgia’s losses this season have been on the road against West Division teams.
- Lyle Thompson is second in the league in points (64), tied for second in goals (27) and fourth in assists (37).
- Evans ranks fifth in the NLL in assists (36) and sixth in points (55).
- Crowley is currently tied for fourth in the league in goals (25) and tied for eighth in points (49).
- Through 10 games this season, Evan Kirk leads all NLL goalies in saves (401).
- Sheldon Burns (four goals, six assists) is tied for fourth in the league in defensive scoring (10). He also scored his first game-winning goal last week at Toronto.
- Georgia leads the NLL in both power play percentage (.612) and penalty killing percentage (.581).
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
“Obviously, it was a big result Friday in Toronto against a division team, so that was huge. If we had dropped that, we end up being a bottom team in the East and begin to lose track of some of the teams in terms of a playoff spot. That was a huge win, and we accomplished a lot. Toronto is a pretty dangerous team, especially in transition, so we did a very good job of eliminating that and sort of neutralizing a strength in their game. I thought we played pretty well and got a good win in a tough building to play in.”
Were you happy to see the Buchanans get back involved in the offense a little bit more?
“Yeah, and that was one of the things that we had hoped for because guys kind of get swatted in your offense, and when we had Pat Saunders in the offense, Kevin was kind of bumped down to some secondary looks, not as much power play time and things of that nature. He certainly delivered. He’s so athletic and he can generate his own shots, so that was good for him to have his best game, certainly offensively, of the season. The timing was good. With Kyle Buchanan, whether he scores or not, we always get the same thing out of him: high energy, repossessions, great on loose balls and can control the pace of the game from an offensive standpoint. Those two guys are huge parts of any success that we have.”
Did the 56 shots taken on Evan Kirk this time around seem more reasonable than some other games?
“I don’t know. To be honest, it’s not something I track all that much. I kind of go with a feel thing on the goalies, and how he’s playing and how he’s reacting, and he was strong again. I think he has been strong all year, but the real benchmark of a good goalie and a next-level goalie is timely saves. He certainly had a few of those where they had some opportunities when the game was close, or even when they went ahead by one, and he made the timely saves to keep us in the game so that we had the opportunity to do what we did.”
Do you think having Chad Culp back in the lineup provided an additional boost for the team?
“Yeah, he’s another guy that provides energy. His contributions don’t always show up on a stat line, but he’ll get repossessions and he’ll create space for guys. He creates energy and pace in your offense, which will make the group collectively better. Having him inserted back into the group was big for the overall game from an offensive standpoint.”
Are there any updates on Shawn Evans’ injury?
“It’s just a sprain. We actually for the MRI results this morning, no fracture, so we’re going to treat it as a sprain. The protocol is ice, physical therapy and just keep monitoring it and checking the ankle strength and mobility. He’ll be on that return-to-play protocol after essentially, a sprained ankle. We’re still not sure on this weekend. Jeremy, our head trainer, has been in contact with him and with me. He’s talking to Shawn’s physical therapist in Peterborough, so he’s going to be doing the work he needs to do away from the team. Then on Saturday, when we get down to Mohegan, Jeremy’s going to have a look at him, test his strength, test the mobility, determine where he’s at, and then make a decision this weekend. I can’t give a percentage, I don’t really know. There is a possibility for sure, I just couldn’t tell you 60-40, 70-30. It would really depend on how he responds this week, and what he looks like on Saturday when Jeremy takes a look at him. A positive sign is that it’s not a break, so it’s a sooner rather than later type of thing.”
What do you have to do as a team this weekend against the Georgia Swarm?
“The pace of play presents a challenge. They’re good in transition as well, so we have to have a similar mindset and approach to controlling the transition like we did in Toronto. They’re very dynamic offensively. I think we have to put a bit more pressure on them from a defensive standpoint, be a little more aggressive and not give them the opportunity to set and have easy feeds and easy passing lanes. They’re dynamic. They’ve got a lot of good athletes on the offensive end of the floor. They get a lot of repossessions because they’re very quick, they’re very aggressive. We have to try and make them play a little bit fast on offense, and you just have to be responsible in all areas of defense, whether that’s closing out, boxing out, taking away time and space, all those types of things. They are where they are for a reason. They’re a very good team, and they have been getting good goaltending and good defense as well. That’s a pretty good combination, and it’s been working so far for them.”
Next Game: The New England Black Wolves will host the Rochester Knighthawks at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, March 17th at 7:30 p.m. For more details, visit www.blackwolves.com.