Game Preview

Game Preview: Rochester at New England

Rochester Knighthawks (6-5) at New England Black Wolves (5-4)
At Mohegan Sun Arena
Friday, March 25th, 7 p.m.

Last Game: New England dropped a 17-13 decision at Rochester on March 12th; Rochester rolled to an 11-4 win at Georgia on March 18th.

Players to watch:
New England – 2015 NLL MVP Shawn Evans (26 goals, 38 assists, 64 points, 63 loose balls) had two goals and four assists in the loss at Rochester. Kevin Crowley (19 goals, 29 assists, 48 points) had two goals and four assists. Pat Saunders (22 goals, 20 assists, 42 points) tied a career high with eight total points (three goals, five assists). Kevin Buchanan (13 goals, 24 assists and 37 points), Jordan Hall (8 goals, 13 assists, 21 points) and Kyle Buchanan (15 goals, nine assists, 24 points) also spark the offense.

Rochester – Cody Jamieson (22 goals, 43 assists, 65 points, 65 loose balls), Dan Dawson (28 goals, 27 assists, 55 points), Stephen Keogh (20 goals, 15 assists, 35 points, 49 loose balls) and Scott Campbell (65 loose balls) lead the Knighthawks.

Noteworthy:

  • Rochester scored a season-high 17 goals against New England in the last meeting. That included a whopping nine goals in the second quarter, when the Knighthawks erased a 6-1 deficit.
  • Ryan Hotaling had a season-high 12 loose balls. He is tied with Evans for the team lead in that category with 63. He is on pace for 126 loose balls, which would be a single-season career-high.
  • Pat Saunders had his fourth hat trick of the season at Rochester, and tied career highs with five assists and eight points. He also collected his 150th career NLL point. Saunders has 20 assists this season, and is on pace for single-season career highs for goals (44), assists (40) and points (84).
  • Kevin Crowley had four assists at Rochester, the seventh time this season he has collected three or more in a game. He is on pace for 58 assists, which would be a single-season career-high. He is also on pace for 96 points, which would be a career high.
  • Shawn Evans has 988 loose balls, and needs just five more to pass Colin Doyle (992) for 22nd all-time.
  • New England had a season-high 93 loose balls in the last meeting with Rochester. It was the most loose balls since the Black Wolves collected 90 at Toronto last April 17th.
  • The Black Wolves and Knighthawks play again Saturday night (March 26th) in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena. That will be the third straight time the Black Wolves have faced Rochester.

New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
What are you focused on improving off the last game?
“Mostly defensive. I think we have sort of slowly been drifting away from principles, and what we want to be as a defensive unit so we spent a lot of time in practice during the bye week and last night reviewing and going over what we want to be defensively because we had a lot of mistakes. To give up 17 goals…and even over the last four-game stretch, we’ve been around 14, 15, 14, 17 (goals-against) and that is way too high on a consistent basis. If that trend continues, were going to have a hard time having success. We’ve worked a lot on defense. We’ve changed some things structurally and revisited some things we think we will have some success with so that has been the biggest focus leading into this weekend.”

Is there an acceptable number when it comes to goals allowed in a game?
“We say 10 is the magic number. If you can hold a team to 10, you should win the game or you should at least put yourself in a good position to win the game. I’d say 12 or 13 is where we want to be on the high end. You can win games every once in a while – we went 14, 15, 14, 17 goals-against and we were 2-2 – but you’re going to have trouble having consistency if you continue to give up those big numbers.”

What did you learn about Rochester from that game?
“We’re pretty familiar with them. They’re a very smart team. They make you pay for mistakes. They’re very aggressive, defensively. They have a strong defensive unit and good goaltending. They’re a dangerous team. The one thing we did a poor job of is we let them dictate pace and let them establish a game that is comfortable for them. If you do that, they are pretty good at that game. The challenge for us is to not let them be the ones who are going to set the tone and dictate pace of play and how their offense is going to set up and that kind of stuff.”

How do you deal with Stephen Keogh, who had six goals in the last meeting?
“It’s going to be a collective effort. I think he was on the end of a lot of our mistakes. It can be spread around with their offense. You have to be careful focusing on one guy too much. Our answer has been the adjustments that we’re making going into this game, but those will be in-game adjustments. We don’t have a specific plan for Stephen Keogh. We had an overall breakdown on our back end and he was sort of the benefactor of some of the mistakes we made. We’ve got an overall plan to be better defensively. We’ll see how that plays out. In our minds, we think we’ve made adjustments that are going to improve our success back there. But like anything, if it is in a game and something is getting away from you, you make adjustments.”

Discuss the reasoning behind activating Zac Reid and moving Pete Rennie to the practice roster:
“Zac has probably got a little stronger stick in terms of loose balls, acquisition and possession, in terms of getting it out of our end. He can push pace in transition. He can take some face-offs. He’s a pretty tenacious loose ball guy and worker. He’s been looking good in practice, working hard. He’s a guy we’ve been talking about for a while. When you have an outing like we did – certainly we’re not pinning it on Pete, it’s a collective effort – but you make some changes to see if small tweaks here and there can advantage you in any way. It’s sort of a combination of a bad team result, and us, for a while now, thinking Zac is ready and deserving of a chance.”

Next Game: The Black Wolves visit Rochester on Saturday, March 26th at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the Black Wolves, visit blackwolves.com.