Game Preview

Game Preview: New England at Georgia

New England Black Wolves (9-5) at Georgia Swarm (5-9)
At Infinite Energy Arena
Friday, April 15, 2016
Watch live on NESNplus

 

Last Game: New England cruised to a 14-10 win at Toronto; Georgia beat Colorado 17-10 last Sunday.

Players to watch:
New England – 2015 NLL MVP Shawn Evans (43 goals, 59 assists, 102 points, 102 loose balls) became the first player in NLL history to record four straight 100-point seasons. Kevin Crowley (29 goals, 48 assists, 77 points), Pat Saunders (35 goals, 27 assists, 62 points), Kevin Buchanan (18 goals, 32 assists and 50 points), Jordan Hall (13 goals, 28 assists, 41 points) and Kyle Buchanan (22 goals, 23 assists, 45 points) also spark the offense. Goalie Evan Kirk leads the NLL in saves (517) and save percentage (.793) and is third in minutes (708.02).

Georgia – Randy Staats (28 goals, 39 assists, 67 points), Shayne Jackson (29 goals, 29 assists, 58 points), Johnny Powless (29 goals, 29 assists, 58 points) and Jesse King (15 goals,  40 assists, 55 points ) are offensive leaders for the Swarm. Jordan MacIntosh leads the team with 143 loose balls.

Noteworthy:

– Georgia has two of the top rookie scorers in the league. Randy Staats is No. 1 among rookies in points and goals. Jesse King leads all rookies this season with 40 assists and ranks No. 3 in points.
– 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
– Shane MacDonald was traded from the Swarm to the Black Wolves in exchange for Drew Petkoff in November
– New England is 2-0 this season against Georgia. The Black Wolves were 1-3 against the Swarm in 2015
– The Black Wolves do not play again until hosting Buffalo at 7 p.m. on January 30th

New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
On clinching a spot in the playoffs:
“We found out (Wednesday) through the league that we had, in fact, clinched a playoff spot with two wins over the weekend. So we are no longer waiting to see if other scenarios play out. That’s very exciting. That was goal three I had on my list coming into the season, so that is nice to get there. Now we can start looking forward to that as well.”

Do you start to allow yourself to look ahead to the playoffs, and what that could lead to?
“That sort of takes care of itself through our planning and prep. We’re looking at Georgia this week and that is all we’re looking at and then we’re looking at Georgia next week. You’re preparing as you go…We’re trying to win every game moving forward so when we do get into the playoffs, obviously we’ll try to win those games and just continue that path. No I don’t get lost on that end goal. If we do get to the position, and we have a long way to go before we do, it will be a byproduct of everything this year. Just prepping for what is in front of us.”

Do you sense the players who were part of last year’s team feel good about this turnaround?
“There are still a lot of guys who were around for that 4-14 record. Athletes have a lot of pride. They don’t want to be those guys who are looked at as sort of a team that everyone takes for granted. I think going into the season, even after the Evans trade and the Crowley trade – someone was telling me this the other day – our group was picked to be ninth overall in the league, last place in the league. They take that personally. They don’t want to be that team. So it’s nice for them that they are a team that can compete with the stronger teams in the league. And I think they take a sense of pride in that.”

Seems like the New England offense is really starting to jell:
“They are becoming a very dangerous unit. You are particularly seeing that on power plays. It continues to get better. We had a phenomenal weekend on power plays. We went 10 for 12 overall in both games. If you can have that weapon as part of your offensive arsenal, that’s going to bode well for your moving forward. I think, time in, time together understanding the little subtleties of each other’s games has certainly helped over the year. I think also we have six very talented offensive players who can hurt you from different spots on the floor…When you have weapons all over the floor, any breakdowns on defense, it allows you to capitalize on it.”

Next Game: The Black Wolves host Georgia on April 23rd at 7 p.m.  For more information on the Black Wolves, visit blackwolves.com.