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Preview: Georgia at New England


New England Black Wolves (9-8) vs. Georgia Swarm (9-7)  
Mohegan Sun Arena
Sunday, April 29, 5:00 p.m. ET
Live on Twitter

Last Game: The New England Black Wolves won 11-6 on the road over the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, April 21st. The Georgia Swarm won 16-10 over the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday, April 14th. On the first night of a back-to-back set, Georgia will host Vancouver on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET.
 

Players to Watch: New England – Through 17 games, Kevin Crowley leads New England with 72 points on a team-high 49 goals and 23 assists. Stephan Leblanc leads the Black Wolves with 40 assists and is second in both goals (23) and points (63). Reilly O’Connor ranks second on the team in assists with 36. Jay Thorimbert leads the team with 127 loose balls.
 

Georgia – Lyle Thompson leads Georgia with 75 points on a team-high 40 goals and 35 assists. Shayne Jackson is tied for the team lead in assists (46), is second in points (74) and tied for second in goals (28). Randy Staats is also tied for second on the Swarm in goals (28) and ranks third in points with 61. Kiel Matisz is tied for the team lead with 46 assists.
 

Noteworthy:
● With three straight wins, the Black Wolves have gone from the brink of playoff elimination to the brink of their first East Division championship since relocating to Connecticut.
● With a win over Georgia, New England will capture the division title and a first-round bye in the NLL playoffs. Even with a loss, the Black Wolves could make the playoffs as a third seed if Toronto loses Saturday.
● The Black Wolves are 1-1 against Georgia this season.
● New England is third in the NLL in penalty killing percentage (53.2) and sixth in power play conversion percentage (41.5).
● The Black Wolves are 4-0 this season in one-goal games.
● For the third time this season, goalie Aaron Bold set a new career-high with 59 saves at Rochester. He currently leads the league with 680.
● Crowley leads the NLL in goals with 49.
● Thorimbert ranks second in the league in faceoff wins (225) and eighth in loose balls (127).
● Georgia is second in the league in penalty killing percentage (53.6).
● The Swarm are sixth in the NLL in scoring average (12.44 goals per game).
●  Lyle Thompson is fifth in the league in goals with 40 on the year.

New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
Opening Statement
“Not a whole lot has potentially changed. We still could be in a position where we need to win to get into the playoffs. We’ll know prior to the game. Nothing has been able to separate, nobody has been able to really separate themselves in the East. We’re still in this jam where we have an unusual situation where if we win we’re in first and if we don’t win we could potentially be out. There is still a lot to be decided this weekend and it’s pretty crazy when you look at all of the teams that need to win to get in and all of the combinations that could come out of this weekend. There’s never been a weekend like this before in the NLL going into the final week.”

On the defensive performance in the win over Rochester
“I thought we played very well. We had made some adjustments to our defense and some subtle changes to the way we were playing and I thought that was the best version of it. Now you can look at stats-wise, there was a lot of shots put up, but a lot of times those are deceptive because sometimes they are shots from where you want shots to come from. I wasn’t too worried about the shot total, but I thought we did a very good job of putting guys in places we wanted to, getting in shooting lanes and taking away premium scoring chances. I was happy with how they played, I thought that was the best version of our defense.”

Is Lyle Thompson the guy you have to worry about from Georgia?
“He has certainly proven himself as one of the premier players in the NLL, reigning MVP and just such a dynamic player, but he has quite a supporting cast. You can’t pay too much attention to him. You have to be schematic in your defense, but if you pay too much attention to him then you’ve really picked your poison because their whole left side with (Jesse) King, (Shayne) Jackson and Jordan Hall, and even on the right side with (Randy) Staats and Miles (Thompson), they’re all goal scorers. I don’t think you can get too focused on one guy, it’s going to be more about the group and how you scheme against their whole offense.”