New England Black Wolves (4-2) vs. Buffalo Bandits (4-3)
At Mohegan Sun Arena
Friday, February 9th, 7:30 p.m. ET
Last Game: The New England Black Wolves fell 21-9 at Toronto on Saturday, January 27th. The Buffalo Bandits won 16-14 at Rochester on Saturday, February 3rd.
Players to Watch: New England – Kevin Crowley leads the Black Wolves this season in goals (15) and ranks second on the team in points (20). Shawn Evans leads New England in both assists (24) and points (35) and ranks second on the team in goals (11). Stephan Leblanc is tied for second on the team in assists (11), and is third in both goals (seven) and points (18).
Buffalo – Dhane Smith leads Buffalo this season in both assists (32) and points (47) and is tied for the team lead in goals (15). Mitch Jones is tied for the team lead in goals (15) and ranks second in assists (19) and points (34). Callum Crawford ranks third on the Bandits in both goals (12) and points (27), and is fourth in assists (15).
- New England was 2-1 against Buffalo last season, in which two of the three games were decided by one goal.
- The Black Wolves are 3-0 at home this season.
- New England has outscored opponents 37-29 at home, while Buffalo has been outscored 70-56 on the road.
- The Black Wolves have the second-highest penalty killing percentage in the league (68.2).
- With 17 faceoff wins against Toronto, Jay Thorimbert moved into second place all-time with 2,096 faceoff wins, passing Jamie Hanford (2,091). He currently ranks second in the NLL this season in faceoff wins (92) and fourth in loose balls (66).
- Reilly O’Connor collected a career-high nine loose balls against the Rock.
- Kevin Crowley has scored in 25 straight games for the Black Wolves dating back to May 1, 2016 against Rochester. He is currently tied for ninth in the league in goals with 15.
- Shawn Evans is tied for 10th in the NLL in assists (24) and tied for 11th in points (35) through six games.
- Buffalo has allowed a league-high 19 power play goals this season.
- The Bandits rank second in the NLL in power play shooting percentage (54.8).
- Buffalo are third in the league in scoring average (13.14 goals per game).
- Dhane Smith is second in the NLL in assists (32), tied for third in points (47) and tied for ninth in goals (15).
- Mitch Jones is also tied for ninth in the league with 15 goals on the season.
- Through seven games, Josh Byrne (25 points on 11 goals and 14 assists) leads all NLL rookies in scoring.
- Alex Buque set a league-high with 55 saves against Toronto back on December 8th.
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
“The Toronto game seems like a long time ago now, but we obviously want to bounce back and rebound from an effort we weren’t happy with. We get the opportunity in the East against a team that’s playing well right now, Buffalo. It’s a big divisional game with a team that we’re very close with in the standings. These are the big games and I think our guys are anxious to erase the bad taste in their mouths from Toronto, so they’re excited to get after it.”
On the performance of Buffalo’s Josh Byrne
“I thought he was the real deal seeing him in the offseason and playing prior to the NLL season. He’s got all the tools. He’s very, very athletic, he’s got one of the best first-steps probably in the game right now in terms of quickness and being able to create and break down defenders one-on-one. He is a handful. Their offense is clicking, and they also have some weapons with Dhane Smith, (Jordan) Durston, (Josh) Byrne and (Callum) Crawford. They can throw a lot of things at you, so they are dangerous on the offensive end.”
Even with the two tough losses on the road and the team struggling in certain areas, are you still happy with being a top contender at 4-2?
“Yeah, it’s looked like a lot of different things. Our two losses have been lopsided and our other games have, for the most part, fairly close and we’ve been winning them through the strength of our defense. It has been a different kind of start because there are all kinds of things we’re trying to improve on, but you’ve heard me say this a lot, it’s a results-based league and we have been getting the results, which is a positive thing.”
Next Game: The New England Black Wolves faceoff against the Colorado Mammoth at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday, February 18th at 2:00 p.m. ET. For more details or to purchase tickets, visit blackwolves.com.