Georgia Swarm at New England Black Wolves
Mohegan Sun Arena
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last Game: This will be the season opener for both teams.
Last Season: Georgia won the 2017 NLL Champions Cup after finishing the regular season with a league-best 13-5 record; New England was 8-10 during the regular season and fell to Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.
Players to watch: New England – Shawn Evans (38 goals, 65 assists, 103 points, 90 loose balls in 2017) led the Black Wolves in points and assists, was second in goals and loose balls…Kevin Crowley (45 goals, 40 assists, 85 points, 80 loose balls) led the team with a single-season career high for goals…Kevin Buchanan (25 goals, 49 assists, 74 points) set new single-season career-highs in all categories…Kyle Buchanan (31 goals, 38 assists, 69 points, 131 loose balls) had new single-season highs for goals, points and loose balls…Jay Thorimbert (302 faceoff wins, 192 loose balls) led the league in both categories…Aaron Bold (565 saves, 11 wins, .764 save percentage) was acquired by trade after helping Saskatchewan reach the NLL Champions Cup for the third straight year in 2017.
Georgia – Reigning NLL MVP Lyle Thompson (45 goals, 71 assists, 116 points, 126 loose balls) led the league in points, was second in assists and fourth in goals…Shayne Jackson had 39 goals, 45 assists and 84 points…Jordan McIntosh led the Swarm with 153 loose balls…Jason Noble was the NLL Defensive Player of the Year…Jordan Hall had 20 goals, 60 assists and 80 points…Goalie Mike Poulin gave up 11.77 goals per game.
• New England was 1-3 against Georgia last year.
• The Black Wolves were one of two teams to hold the Swarm to a season-low eight goals. They were also one of two teams to give up a season-high 21 goals.
• Georgia led the league with 266 goals last year. It was fourth in shots on goal (55.22).
• New England gave up the second most shots (56.39 per game) and second most goals (244) in the NLL last year. The Black Wolves also ranked second in shots on net (55.89) and fourth in goals (220).
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
On the challenge defending champion Georgia will provide to New England’s revamped defense:
“Georgia is a real good team at putting pressure on guys when they pick the ball up, forcing turnovers, and we want to limit those. So that will be a good test. …It’s always exciting. Certainly we’re going to get a good test right off the bat. Georgia is the gold standard right now, so we’ll get to see how we match up”
New England Black Wolves forward Shawn Evans
On the challenge of opening the season with the Georgia Swarm:
“They’re the defending champions. They are the best team right now. They won it last year and hold the bragging rights of being the best team. When you want to compete and challenge yourself, that’s a good way to challenge yourself right out of the gate, playing a great team like the Georgia Swarm. It’s going to be a test for us, but we have to take it as a positive challenge and make sure we are ready to compete. We can’t have any doubts on this team. We have to be ready to push that gas pedal down right off the bat and be ready to go and be all in.”
On all of the offseason changes made to the defense:
“I think we made about six changes on defense this year and also acquired a two-time NLL champion goaltender with Aaron Bold. I think (Black Wolves GM) Rich (Lisk) and our coaching staff went out there, they saw the needs we had if we wanted to compete for a championship, and they (addressed them)….We know what we have here. We know we have some young talent, but we’re going to have speed and quickness. I think that is what we’ve been lacking.”
Next Game: New England will be at Saskatchewan on December 23rd.