When Black Wolves forward Callum Crawford scored five goals and dished out two assists in the win over Calgary last week, his best offensive effort since joining the team in April helped the team snap a four-game losing streak.
For Crawford, that performance reflected the chemistry the team is building.
“The difference was that the ball was going in the back of the net (against Calgary),” he said. “We didn’t score an insane amount of goals, but if we’re talking about me playing well, it’s the difference between scoring and hitting the goalie with the majority of the shots. I think our offense has generally been playing well since I’ve been here. I’m sure they were playing well before I was here. The difference is just the ball going in the net. I think the ball has been going in the net a little bit more for us. We’re building a little bit more chemistry, which has been great, and it’s starting to come together. I think we can still do better in the finishing part of it (the season), but there was tons of good to take away from that game.”
Acquired from Buffalo via trade on April 30th, Crawford is the newest member of a team that has had three in-season trades after an offseason of transition. However, the 13-year NLL veteran likes what he sees from his new team after six games with the Black Wolves.
“I think there is a ton of potential and I think we are tapping into it,” Crawford explained. “I said it when I first got here – chemistry isn’t something that you just put together, it comes from players playing together. This team, with the draft picks and the trades, has been trying to build that chemistry, but they haven’t had the luxury of having everyone together for a long period of time. It’s starting to come together at the end of the season. The more time spent, that chemistry and relationship grows. We’re starting to see that on both sides of the ball, and it’s only going to benefit us going forward.”
That chemistry and the strides the team has made recently will be tested Saturday when New England travels to Colorado to take on the Mammoth. Crawford, who spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons in Colorado before being traded to Buffalo this past offseason, has a unique perspective on the matchup.
“They (the Mammoth) are a very well coached team,” he said. “They are a team, not just one or two guys that take over. They score equally, they have structure and they stick to their structure. They’re having a great season because of it. I think some people thought they were going to be in trouble defensively this year because of the injuries to some of their marquee players, but their defensive coach, Patty Coyle, he is a really good coach. He has a really good system and that system allows other guys to step up and play well and that’s what’s been happening for them. For us, we have to match that. We have to outplay them and outwork them. We have to stick to what our coaches are telling us because we are being told the right things. It’s on (us to) execute the things we are being told. The fans (in Colorado) are incredible. It’s one of the best places to play, either with the Mammoth or against the Mammoth. It’s fun. It’s loud. It’s exciting. It’s a great venue to be a part of, no matter if the fans are with you or against you. It makes it fun and exciting.”
With the team right in the middle of the playoff hunt in the East Division, Crawford knows all of the pieces are there for the Black Wolves to make a run in the final three games, and it will come down to chemistry.
“I believe, and I know our coaching staff believes, in the pieces we have on this team,” he said. “It’s on us to execute. I think that is the key here, to keep building that chemistry and execute. Unfortunately we don’t have time let any more (games) slip past us, and that goes for everybody in the East. Right now, it’s going to be hard for any team in the East to lose a game so we need to do anything we can to win. I can’t say it enough – our coaches give us the tools to win, they prepare us properly, they prepare us all week, and the message they provide us is a winning message. Ultimately it’s on us to put the ball in the back of the net.”