New England Black Wolves (7-7) vs. Georgia Swarm (9-4)
At Mohegan Sun Arena
Friday, April 7th, 7:30 p.m.
Live on NLLTV.com
Last Game: New England won 15-14 at home against the Toronto Rock last week on April 2nd. Georgia won 21-13 over the Colorado Mammoth on April 1st.
Players to Watch: New England – Kevin Crowley (33 goals, 33 assists) leads the Black Wolves this season in goals. He had two goals and three assists in last week’s win over Toronto. Shawn Evans (31 goals, 50 assists) leads New England in both assists and points (81). He added three goals and one assist against the Rock. Kyle Buchanan (24 goals, 29 assists) is third on the team in goals and fourth in points (53). He also had two goals and three assists in the game.
Georgia – Lyle Thompson (32 goals, 52 assists) leads the Swarm in goals. He had four goals and seven assists in last week’s win over Colorado. Jordan Hall (15 goals, 47 assists) is second on the team in both assists and points (62). He added two goals and seven assists against the Mammoth. Shane Jackson (29 goals, 25 assists) is second on Georgia in goals and third in points (54) this season. He also had five goals and four assists in the game.
- Shawn Evans (eight goals, 15 assists), Kevin Crowley (10 goals, eight assists), Kevin Buchanan (three goals, eight assists) and Kyle Buchanan (five goals, five assists) have led the Black Wolves in scoring in three games played against the Swarm this season.
- Lyle Thompson (eight goals, nine assists), Jordan Hall (eight goals, eight assists), Shayne Jackson (five goals, six assists) and Jordan MacIntosh (three goals, seven assists) have led the charge for Georgia in the three games played against New England this season.
- Shawn Evans recorded season-highs in both assists (eight) and points (12) against the Swarm on February 11th. He also registered his ninth multi-goal game of the season against Toronto, and has now scored three goals in four consecutive games. He currently needs 12 points to reach 1,000 career points.
- Kevin Crowley set season-highs in both goals (five) and points (eight) against Georgia on February 11th. He also recorded his 11th multi-goal game of the season last week. Through 14 games, he has scored a goal in every game this season for the Black Wolves.
- Evan Kirk tied his career-high with 56 saves against Toronto last week. Through 14 games this season, he leads all NLL goalies in saves (564).
- Jay Thorimbert tied his career-high with two assists and his season-high collecting 14 loose balls last week against the Rock.
- Lyle Thompson recorded a season-high 11 points on four goals and seven assists last week.
- Jordan Hall scored a season-high four goals against New England back on February 11th. He also recorded season-highs in both assists (seven) and overall points (nine) in the win over Colorado last week.
- Jordan MacIntosh set season-highs in goals (three), assists (six) and points (nine) against the Black Wolves on February 11th.
- Kiel Matisz scored a season-high four goals against Colorado last week.
- Shayne Jackson recorded season-highs in both goals (five) and points (nine) last week. He also tied his season-high with four assists against the Mammoth.
- Lyle Thompson ranks fifth in the NLL this season in points (84) and is tied for third in assists (52).
- Through 14 games, Kevin Crowley ranks fifth in the league in goals (33).
- Shawn Evans currently ranks sixth in the NLL in points (81).
- Sheldon Burns (six goals, eight assists) is tied for second in the league in defensive scoring (14 points).
- New England leads the league in faceoff win percentage (235-403) (.583).
- Sheldon Burns tied his career-high with two goals against Toronto. His second of the game was his second game winning goal of the season and third of his career.
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
“It’s nice to be back to .500. The game against Toronto (did not end) as we would’ve liked it to, but we put ourselves in position and found a way to win. A bit of an unusual ending with the 6-on-5 goals, but we still found a way to hang on and got ourselves back to .500 which, when we were 3-6 , to go 4-1 in our last five has, in this league, been a pretty good accomplishment. We’ve got Georgia coming in this weekend and they scored 21 on Colorado last weekend, so we know they can put up big numbers. It’s never easy. Every weekend is its own challenge and this is no different.”
How do you handle situations where a team pulls their goalie for an extra attacker the way Toronto did last week?
“You have a defensive plan and you have a defensive group. We have what we call our last-minute defense. You’ve got the personnel on the floor that you want on the floor, and there are certain cues that we pay attention to, things we want to shut down. Not making any excuses for our group or anything like that, but typically, Brett Manney and Derek Searle are the two top men on our 6-on-5 defense, and we got exposed a little bit in those two areas. I think that hurt us from a personnel standpoint. It’s almost like how you run your man-down. You have certain things you cue in on, you understand what they’re trying to do to you and you try and neutralize and combat it the best you can. They did a good job. They took a couple nice shots and hit a couple of spots. One of the other problems too was going down that stretch, Jay (Thorimbert) had been so dominant on the face-offs during the game, and then when they kept pulling their goalie and even when they scored, they turned it around. They won quite a few face-offs in a row to end the game, so we weren’t even able to get momentum, kill some time, take time off the clock, and generate a repossession, all those things you need to do down the stretch. It was almost like a perfect storm. They were scoring on the 6-on-5 and then they were winning the face-off and getting back-to-back-to-back possessions. It was a bit of an unusual finish, but we’re happy we came out on the right end of it.”
Are you worried about Evan Kirk taking so many shots on goal and being able to recover in time for Georgia?
“No, that’s enough time in-between. I look at it as he got a good workout. He got lots of shots, lots of experience, and it’s good for him to see a lot of rubber. He’ll be fine.”
Your transition game went really well last week against Toronto. Do you need that same kind of effort against Georgia?
“Yeah, it’s something you always want to try and take advantage of and it’s something you want to be able to capitalize on. Five-on-five goals sometimes are harder, and sometimes teams play those scenarios to a stalemate, so it’s up to your transition and specialty teams. We got two short-handed goals as well, which ended up playing very big in the game. All those transition, specialty team, difference-maker type goals are valuable. It’s not something you focus on, but it’s more opportunity and personnel. You say you want to push transition, you’ve got to be in a situation where that presents itself and you’ve got to have the guys that can do it as well.”
How nice would it be to get a home playoff game?
“It’s one of those things. I’d love to have a home playoff game and that’s certainly a goal. We won’t hide from that, but you have to take it one step at a time. We have to win our games and we have to jump ahead of Toronto at this point. We’re better at home, most teams are. For whatever reason, we have a comfort level playing at Mohegan and we certainly would love to have another home game, not only for us, but for the fans. We had two home playoff games last year for the crowd, and it had been a long dry spell prior to that, so we’d love to get another playoff game, or two, or three, or four.”
Next Game: The New England Black Wolves face off against the Saskatchewan Rush in their first meeting this season at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday, April 22nd at 9:30 p.m. For more details, visit www.blackwolves.com.