Game Info: The New England Black Wolves gear up for their first game of the 2019-20 NLL season on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The Black Wolves head north to face the Toronto Rock at Scotiabank Arena. This will mark the 53rd time that New England and Toronto will faceoff. The Rock hold a 31-21 all-time record over the Black Wolves franchise (including Philadelphia).
History: Last season, the Black Wolves and the Rock faced each other two times during the regular season. On Feb. 24, New England defeated Toronto 13-11. In the second game on April 12, the Rock defeated the Black Wolves 13-12.
New England: The Black Wolves are coming off a 9-9 campaign in the 2018-19 regular season. New England is looking to make its fifth straight appearance in the playoffs. The team’s season ended on May 5 after a postseason loss to Buffalo (13-6).
Offense: Headed into Saturday’s contest, Callum Crawford, Joe Resetarits and Stephan Leblanc will lead the way on the offensive end for the Pack. Crawford scored a team and league-high 48 goals last season. He also tallied 61 assists, placing him second on the team and first in points with 109. Leblanc led the team with 66 assists and also added 27 goals for a total of 93 points. After arriving to the Black Wolves more than half way through the season, Resetarits quickly became an offensive threat, netting 13 goals and 11 assists in seven games.
Additionally, New England will see offensive strength from Reilly O’Connor, Jordan Durston and third overall pick, Andrew Kew. O’Connor tallied 76 points on 27 goals and 49 assists a year ago. Durston joins the Pack from the Bandits where he scored 15 goals and tallied 32 assists for 47 points. Kew amassed 259 goals and 75 assists at the University of Tampa and led his team in goals scored for four consecutive years.
Defense: On the other end of the field, Brett Manney, who has seen action in 85 of the Black Wolves’ 90 regular season games since arriving in New England, will continue to anchor the defense. Colton Watkinson, Jackson Nishimura, John LaFontaine and Mackenzie Mitchell will also be key in the Black Wolves’ defensive efforts.
Doug Jamieson will stand in goal as the primary keeper. Last season Jamieson recorded 520 saves and finished with a .784 save percentage.
Toronto: This year, the Rock will welcome back Rob Hellyer, Tom Schreiber and Adam Jones, three of its offensive weapons. Hellyer finished the season last year leading the team with 36 goals. Schreiber ranked first in assists and points with 65 and 94, respectively. He also finished second on the team with 29 goals scored. Jones finished third on the team in goals (25), assists (31) and points (56).
Defensively, Brad Kri, Latrell Harris and Challen Rogers will remain key components to Toronto’s back end. Kri led the Rock with 13 loose balls collected and 31 turnovers caused. Harris and Rogers sat close behind with 114 loose balls each and 22 and 19 caused turnovers respectively.
In the net, Nick Rose and Riley Hutchcraft will see time. Rose stood as Toronto’s primary goalie during the 201-19 season. He played in 1,028 minutes of action, had a 12-6 record, saved 675 shots and allowed 201 goals.
Looking Ahead: The Black Wolves will hit the road again next week when they take on the Saskatchewan Rush at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, SK. Faceoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 14. New England then has a bye week before hosting the New York Riptide on Saturday, Dec. 27 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.