Game Preview

Game Preview: Georgia at New England

New England Black Wolves (10-8) at Georgia Swarm (8-10)
At Mohegan Sun Arena
Friday, May 6th, 7 p.m.

Season Series: New England won the season series between the teams, 3-1.
1/17     New England     11-6     @ Georgia
2/28     New England     16-15    vs. Georgia
4/15     Georgia             16-9      vs. New England
4/23     Connecticut        21-11    vs. Georgia

Players to watch:
New England – 2015 NLL MVP Shawn Evans (50 goals, 68 assists, 118 points, 116 loose balls) had a career high for goals and set a franchise record for points. Kevin Crowley (33 goals, 57 assists, 90 points) had career highs for points and assists. Pat Saunders (44 goals, 32 assists, 76 points, 76 loose balls) had career highs in all four categories. Kevin Buchanan (24 goals, 38 assists and 62 points) had his first 60-point season. Kyle Buchanan (29 goals, 30 assists, 59 points, 100 loose balls) set new career highs for goals and loose balls. Evan Kirk (620 saves) set a new franchise record for saves with the seventh-highest total in NLL history. His nine wins were also a career-high.

Georgia – Randy Staats (36 goals, 59 assists, 95 points), Shayne Jackson (40 goals, 42 assists, 83 points), Johnny Powless (35 goals, 37 assists, 72 points) and Jesse King (22 goals, 55 assists, 77 points) are offensive leaders for the Swarm. Jordan MacIntosh leads the team with 182 loose balls.

Noteworthy:
– Georgia has the top two rookie scorers in the NLL. Staats is No. 1 and King is No. 2.
– Georgia starts faster than New England, but the Black Wolves finish stronger. The Swarm outscored opponents 55-53 in the first quarter this season. New England was outscored 49-43 in the first quarter. But New England outscored opponents 68-51 in the fourth quarter while Georgia was outscored 75-57 in the fourth quarter.
– Penalties could play a key role in the outcome tomorrow. Both teams have struggled in penalty-kill situations. Georgia ranks seventh in kill percentage (47.3) while the Black Wolves are ninth (44.7 percent). The league average is 49.2 percent. New England has given up a league high 57 power play goals.
– Former Black Wolves defender Joel White has 143 loose balls for Georgia
– Former Black Wolves head coach Blane Harrison is an assistant on the Swarm staff
– Evan Kirk was a goalie with the Swarm during the 2012 and 2013 seasons

New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
On looking ahead to the first National Lacrosse League playoff game ever at Mohegan Sun Arena:
“Obviously, these are exciting times for us and a big game coming up against a tough opponent. I don’t think anyone should read anything into the last game we had with them. It was an anomaly. We expect a tough game with them. They’re a very strong team and that is what we are prepared for.”

Status of Shawn Evans, who sat out the last game of the year with an upper body injury suffered at Buffalo:
“Not sure yet in terms of status. He is coming down to Mohegan and meeting with Jeremy (Norman) and the doctors and reevaluating. At this time, I don’t know.”

More on how not having Evans would impact the team:
“You’re concerned about losing a top 1-2-3 player in the league. That is not going to help any team. You lose your best player and it impacts you. We’re certainly concerned about the impact of losing Shawn if that is what happens, but you adjust. We may have to scheme a little differently. It’s certainly not a good thing, but you have to look forward.”

Do you have to ask other players to step up and do more with Shawn potentially out?
“I don’t think it is any different from who we leaned on during the season. Nobody has to be any different. They have to play within their strengths. Guys lead in different ways. We have some role identity on the team and that does not need to change.”

How does officiating change during the playoffs?
“The tendency is in terms of penalties and calls and that, they probably lean toward the impact calls. You might not get as many of the off-ball slashes and holds and things of that nature.”