New England Black Wolves (6-7) At Buffalo Bandits (7-7)
At KeyBank Center
Saturday, March 31st, 7:30 p.m. ET
Live on NLLTV
Last Game: The Black Wolves fell 17-12 on the road to Georgia on Saturday, March 24th. The Bandits defeated the Black Wolves 20-7 on Friday, March 23rd.
Players to Watch: New England – Through 13 games, Kevin Crowley leads New England in both goals (36) and points (52). Stephan Leblanc leads the Black Wolves in assists (32) and is second in goals (19) and points (51). Reilly O’Connor ranks second on the team in assists (23).
Buffalo – In 14 games, Dhane Smith leads Buffalo in goals (32), assists (53) and points (85). Mitch Jones is second on the Bandits in goals (27), assists (37) and points (64). Jordan Durston ranks third on the team in both assists (34) and points (52).
· The Black Wolves are 0-2 against Buffalo this season.
· The Black Wolves are second in the NLL in penalty kill percentage (54.1).
· New England is 3-0 in games decided by one goal.
· Kevin Crowley (three goals, one assist), Stephan Leblanc (two goals, one assist) and Callum Crawford (one goal, two assists) led the Black Wolves in scoring in their loss to the Bandits on March 23rd.
· Callum Crawford recorded his first hat trick in a Black Wolves uniform against Georgia while scoring his 300th career goal in the game.
· Kevin Crowley extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one goal to 32 against the Swarm. He has now posted four straight hat tricks and has nine on the season. He ranks second in the league with 36 goals.
· Buffalo has allowed the most power play goals in the league (36).
· The Bandits are fourth in the NLL in power play conversion percentage (53.7) and sixth in penalty kill percentage (46.3).
· Buffalo is tied for third in the league in scoring average (13.21 goals per game).
· The Bandits are 4-0 in games when they have been leading at the half.
· Vaughn Harris (four goals, four assists), Dhane Smith (two goals, six assists) and Shawn Evans (two goals, four assists) led Buffalo in their win over New England on March 23rd.
· Dhane Smith leads the NLL in points (85), is tied for second in assists (53) and fifth in goals (32).
· Shawn Evans is 10th in the league in points (66).
New England Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark
How can you improve your defense going up against a very high-scoring team like Buffalo?
“What you do every week is you look at what they did well and conversely, what you didn’t do well and you try and fix it. Some of that is with personnel, some of that is with scheme, but performance needs to be better from different guys. That’s the dialogue we had this week – who is that personnel and what does that formula look like – but guys know they’re accountable. If they think that we’re just going to keep rolling that out without making changes, they’re mistaken. It’s a combination of a lot of things, but one of them is we certainly can’t be comfortable rolling out that kind of effort and guys need to be accountable for their play.”
With five games left, is there enough time to turn it around before playoffs?
“Yes, there is. The stressful thing about the East is how close it is, but the good thing is if we win on the weekend, who knows, we could be right back in the playoffs. It’s so tight and every weekend you have such big swings. We just need to get back to playing with some of that consistency we had in games that we won and stop with the big swings. It’s on everybody, we haven’t seemed to be able to get all of our groups going. Part of that is probably the changes we’ve made, with them still finding their groove, but they still haven’t scored us out of any trouble. With our defense and goaltending, we can’t have the big swings. The goalies have to give us solid effort and give us some consistency to play through some of the struggles that we have at times. Every team has them, and you need to be bailed out by either your offense, defense or goaltending, and we haven’t had those groups on the same page consistently enough.”
Next Game: The New England Black Wolves faceoff against the Calgary Roughnecks when they host 90’s Day at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday, April 8th at 2:00 p.m. ET. To purchase tickets, click here.