New England Black Wolves (1-0) at Saskatchewan Rush (1-0)
At Sasktel Centre
Saturday, December 23rd, 8:30 p.m. ET
Live on NLLTV.com
Last Game: New England opened the season with a 13-11 win at home over the Georgia Swarm on December 8th. Saskatchewan won 17-9 over the Toronto Rock at Air Canada Centre on December 16th.
Players to Watch: New England – Shawn Evans led the Black Wolves in scoring with two goals and seven assists in the home-opener win over Georgia. Kevin Crowley (four goals, one assist) led the team in goals against the Swarm. Kevin Buchanan also added one goal and three assists in the win.
Saskatchewan – Jeff Shattler led the Rush in scoring with two goals and six assists in last week’s win over Toronto. Ben McIntosh (five goals, one assist) led the team in goals against the Rock. Ryan Keenan (one goal, six assists) and Robert Church (three goals, three assists) also contributed offensively in the win.
• Saturday will be the first time the two teams have played each other since April 15, 2017.
• New England won 13-12 over Saskatchewan in that game. It was the only meeting between the two teams on the season.
• Reilly O’Connor (six assists), Shawn Evans (two goals, two assists) and Kevin Crowley (two goals, two assists) led the Black Wolves in against the Rush last season.
• Mark Matthews (two goals, three assists), Curtis Knight (two goals, two assists) and Robert Church (two goals, one assist) led Saskatchewan in the loss to New England.
• The Black Wolves held a 3-6 record on the road last season.
• This week’s matchup will showcase the off-season trade in which the Black Wolves acquired goaltender Aaron Bold, John LaFontaine, the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NLL Draft and a second round pick in the 2018 NLL Draft in exchange for goaltender Evan Kirk on August 1, 2017.
• Through the first two weeks of the season, Shawn Evans is tied for the league lead in assists (seven) and tied for second in the NLL in points (nine). He also recorded his 19th game winning goal of his career against the Swarm.
• Reilly O’Connor’s six assists against Saskatchewan last season was a career-high (4/15/17).
• Jay Thorimbert was 17-of-27 (.630) on the faceoff against the Swarm. His 18 loose balls in the game was also just three shy of his career-high (21).
• Newly acquired Stephan Blanc is just one goal shy of 250 career goals.
• Saskatchewan’s 17 goals against Toronto last week is currently tied for the league single-game high.
• Jeff Shattler is tied for third in the league in points (eight).
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
On the bye week and heading to Saskatchewan
“Bye weeks, they’re time for guys to recover. We had a long training camp, so I think the timing of it was pretty good. It gives the guys a chance to rest up a little bit and get work in without getting banged up, so I think we’ll be relatively healthy going into the weekend. It’s another really stiff test. Saskatchewan has arguably been one of the top two teams in the league the past four or five years, and they looked really good last week against Toronto. It’ll be another challenge for our group, another good test early. We talked about how we think we’ve made positive strides, positive changes, but until you prove it, it doesn’t really matter. This is a good opportunity to test that against a really good competitor.”
What does it mean in this game to have Evan Kirk in one net and Aaron Bold in the other?
“It probably means more for them than it does for us. You move on very quickly and get really focused on the team and what you need to accomplish as a group. To be honest, I haven’t really thought about the scenario of Aaron Bold going back and playing against Evan Kirk. I think it probably means a lot to those two individually, but for us, it’s a contest that we want to win, so we focus on the team and the little things that we need to do well to be successful.”
What concerns you most about Saskatchewan?
“They’re just so good, which concerns me. They don’t make a lot of mistakes and they don’t waver. Their game is consistent and persistent. They come at you with consistent systems all game long. If you try and take shortcuts, if you try and cheat, if you miss assignments, they kill you. They’re just disciplined, very skilled and they’re very consistent in their effort.”
Next Game: New England returns home to host the Vancouver Stealth at Mohegan Sun on Friday, December 29th at 7:30 p.m. For more details or to purchase tickets, click here.