Game Preview

Game Preview: Buffalo at New England

Buffalo Bandits (13-5) at New England Black Wolves (11-8)
At Mohegan Sun Arena
Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m.
Live on NLLTV.com

Last Game: New England beat Georgia 14-13 in overtime at Mohegan Sun Arena in the single-elimination first round of the NLL playoffs.

Players to watch:
New England 2015 NLL MVP Shawn Evans (50 goals, 68 assists, 118 points, 116 loose balls during the regular season) had the last of his four goals in overtime to clinch the win over Georgia. Kevin Crowley (33 goals, 57 assists, 90 points in regular season) led the Black Wolves with four goals and four assists against Georgia, and also set up the winning sequence when he drew a holding penalty that led to the power play goal in overtime from Evans. Evan Kirk (league leading 620 saves) had a huge game with 53 saves to keep the Black Wolves alive.

Buffalo – Dhane Smith (72 goals, 67 assists, 137 points, 111 loose balls) broke New England forward Shawn Evans’ league record of 130 points, set last season when he was with Calgary, in the win over Rochester. Ryan Benesch (39 goals, 53 assists, 92 points) and Mark Steenhuis (34 goals, 38 assists, 72 points) are also crucial to the Buffalo offense. Jay Thorimbert (129 loose balls) is 13th all-time in league history with 1,136 loose balls.

Noteworthy:
– Buffalo won the regular season series 2-1, including a 12-7 victory on April 30th that clinched the East Division regular season title.
– Evan Kirk’s 620 saves rank seventh all time in NLL history. Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo set the record for saves with 752 in 2014, and also collected the No. 2 total (681) in 2015.
– The Bandits were 8-1 at home this year and outscored opponents by 28 goals.
– Buffalo had seven players with over 100 loose balls during the regular season.
– Buffalo’s Daryl Veltman – the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft – is the nephew of New England assistant coach Jim Veltman. He is in his first season in Buffalo. Prior to Buffalo, he was with Calgary, where he was the teammate of New England forward Shawn Evans.
– The elder Veltman was part of three NLL Championships with the Bandits.
– New England’s Derek Suddons played the past three seasons with Buffalo.

New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
Talk about the victory over Georgia in the first round of the playoffs:
“Great game, great win, exciting playoff win and now a big challenge. It (the game against Georgia) came on quickly with the back-to-back weekend and the playoff game. This week we’ve had a little more time to decompress and get ready. It’s exciting.”

On the problems posed by Buffalo:
“Their transition game is very strong and they present challenges to you in that area, so you really have to be aware. The last game, we really didn’t convert on our chances. I thought we generated a lot of chances, but for whatever reason, we didn’t finish. We need to do a better job with that.”

On Defending Dhane Smith:
“He presents challenges all over the floor. We have some guys we want to match up with him, but he’s so big and so fast. He’s one of those game-changing guys that you have to manage. He’s one of the top three players in the game right now. He’s a handful.”

Next Game: The Bandits host Game 2 of the series at the First Niagara Center on May 21st at 7:30. Should the teams split games, a 10-minute tiebreaker game will be played immediately following Game 2 to decide the winner.