UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Kevin Crowley tied a career high with six goals and Evan Kirk set a new personal best with 56 saves as the New England Black Wolves ended an eight-game home losing streak, rolling to a 15-11 victory over the Buffalo Bandits at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night.
It was the first home win for New England since a 17-7 victory over Rochester on January 10, 2015. The Black Wolves are now 3-1 while Buffalo fell to 2-2.
“I got reminded of that last home game,” Coach Glenn Clark said of the long home losing drought that stretched to eight games when the Calgary Roughnecks beat New England 9-8 back on January 15th. “It’s nice. I wasn’t aware of (the length of time), but it was nice for the fans and you could feel the energy. There was a bit of excitement in there. It was good for the players because they’re starting to believe that they are in the mix and can play with the big boys.”
Five third-quarter goals broke open a game the Black Wolves led just 6-5 at the half. Crowley had three of his goals in that third quarter while Shawn Evans, who finished with two goals and a season-high seven assists, had a pair of assists.
“It’s nice to celebrate a team win with the boys and have a large part in it,” Crowley said, explaining that patient offensive possessions were a crucial part of the game plan. “Coming out of halftime, I think that was important for us to do, to use the whole thirty-second clock. They’re obviously a great transition team, so the more we could keep them on defense the better for us. It’s sticking to our game plan and having a belief that it will be successful and then executing.”
Kevin Buchanan also had seven points for New England ,scoring two goals and dishing out five assists. Pat Saunders had two goals and two assists while Shane MacDonald had a career-high four assists.
Dhane Smith led the way for Buffalo with four goals and four assists tying him for the league lead with 30 points. Ryan Benesch chipped in three goals and two assists while Alexander-Kedoh Hill had two goals and an assist.
The first quarter ended in a 3-3 tie as each team had three different goal scorers. Smith had two assists for the Bandits on two power play goals while the Black Wolves had one goal with an extra attacker with six seconds to go in the period.
The second quarter started with Buffalo taking a two goal lead with just under 12 minutes to go in the half. New England answered with three goals to take a 6-5 lead going into intermission. Saunders, Crowley and Evans each had a goal and an assist over this stretch.
“When we got the lead tonight, we didn’t stop,” said Evans. “That’s what we need to do. Keep the ball swinging and take our opportunities when we have them.”
John Ranagan and Quinn Powless each scored goals at the start of the fourth to push the Black Wolves lead to 13-6. Buffalo attempted to mount a rally, outscoring the Black Wolves 5-2 over the final 10 minutes but were unable to get any closer than 14-11.
Evan Kirk earned his third win of the season (3-1) making a career high 56 saves on 67 shots on goal. Kirk continues to lead the NLL with an 8.22 goals against average and a .844 save percentage.
Anthony Cosmo started the game for Buffalo, giving up 10 goals with 29 saves on 39 shots faced. He was replaced in the third quarter by Davide DiRuscio who finished the game making six saves on 11 shots and allowing five goal.
The Black Wolves will return to action on Saturday, February 6th when they travel to Buffalo. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.