In a fight to remain in first place in the East Division, New England currently 3-0, gears up to faceoff against Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 18 for Rivalry Night. Face-off is set for 7pm and the first 2,000 fans will receive a Howl Towel courtesy of Coca-Cola.
History: Upon purchase in 2015, the Philadelphia Wings became the New England Black Wolves. Of the six men that joined the Pack directly from the Wings, captain Brett Manney is the lone wolf that remains. Manney spent four years with the Wings (2011-2014) and appeared in 63 regular season games. The Wings returned to the NLL under new ownership in 2018-19. This will be the fourth all-time matchup between the two opponents; the Wings hold a 2-1 series lead after grabbing two wins in Philadelphia last year.
New England: Standing at 3-0, the Black Wolves hold the best record in the East. The Pack is also one of only two undefeated teams left in the league. Halifax is 4-0.
Offense: After week five of NLL action, the Black Wolves hold the top spot in many statistical categories, primarily due to veteran forward, Callum Crawford and his hot offensive start. After two back-to-back bye weeks, Crawford now sits at fourth in the league in goals (11), assists (16) and points (27).
Accompanying Crawford on the frontline has been a variety of offensive components. Rookie Andrew Kew, who recently garnered his second TRUE Rookie of the Week honor, has also put up impressive numbers early. Kew has tallied 18 points which puts him second on the team. Twelve of the left-handed forward’s points has come from assists, five of which were power play assists. Following behind Crawford in goals scored is Reilly O’Connor with eight. In the team’s 21-11 home victory over New York, O’Connor netted six for a new career-high.
Joe Resetarits and Stephan Leblanc have also provided positive contributions to the Black Wolves’ offense. Both men have tallied nine assists. Leblanc racked up five of his nine against New York, while Resetarits recorded his 400th career point against the Riptide.
Joe Nardella has been a huge impact on the Black Wolves offense, winning 52 of 84 faceoffs for a .620 win percentage.
Defense: The defense is also a huge contributor to the team’s early success. Brett Manney, Nardella, Mackenzie Mitchell, Nick Chaykowsky and Ty Logan have been a core group in fending off opponent’s offensive attacks. Nardella and Mitchell lead the team in caused turnovers with four apiece. The pack of defenders has tallied a combined 72 loose balls this season. Tony Malcom leads the team in loose balls collected with 26.
The final line of defense, Black Wolves’ goalkeeper Doug Jamieson, is off to the hottest start in the NLL at his position. In three performances, he has allowed only 27 goals for a 9.2 goals allowed average. Jamieson has stopped 121 shots and has a save percentage of .818. While in the net, the Pack goalie has faced 105 shots on goal.
Philadelphia: The Wings (3-1), are on a three-game winning streak of their own.
Former Black Wolf, Kevin Crowley is the top offensive performer for the Wings in both goals and assists with nine and 14, respectively. Close behind with eight goals is Brett Hickey and Josh Currier with seven. Matt Rambo has been a huge factor for the offense as well, tallying 12 assists behind Crowley.
Defensively, the Wings are held together by Ryan Wagner, Liam Patten, Steph Charbonneau and Anthony Joaquim with Zach Higgins between the bars and Trevor Baptiste on transition and at the faceoff position. On the back end, Baptiste leads the team with 55 ground balls and has caused two turnovers. On the front end, he has scored five goals and tallied one assist. Babtiste is also the Wing’s go-to faceoff specialist. Over the course of four contests he has faced off 101 times and came out with the ball 76 times.
Chabonneau, Wagner and former Black Wolf Joaquim, each have a team-high three caused turnovers while Patten has two. The group of defenders have provided contributions to the team’s collection of loose balls. Patten has collected 23, Joaquim 21 and Charbonneau and Wagner have tallied 19 and 18, respectively.
In the net, Higgins has recorded 160 saves with 41 goals allowed. The starting goalie is averaging a .796 save percentage and a 10.30 goals allowed average.
Looking Ahead: On Sunday, Jan. 26, the Georgia Swarm arrives for Sunday Funday at 1pm. Mascots from around the region will be on hand and kids are invited to come on the field after the game to take a shot on goal.
Tickets for the 2019-20 season are on sale now and start at $15 per game. For more information, contact a Black Wolves sales representative by calling 844-LAX-WOLF or visiting blackwolves.com.