Since the start of the NLL season, Black Wolves’ GM Rich Lisk has completed major trades to acquire veterans Stephan Leblanc, Johnny Powless and Callum Crawford to the team. On Sunday, all three of those players proved their value by making crucial contributions in a 13-12 overtime win against the Calgary Roughnecks.
● Crawford had a season-high five goals with two assists. His two early goals broke the ice against Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco, who entered the game leading the NLL in goals-against average (10.30) and save percentage (.803). He also had an assist on the overtime game-winner.
● Leblanc has been an assist machine since he was acquired from Toronto in December – he had three more Sunday and leads the Black Wolves with 39. But he can also score. A canny vet, he recognized Calgary was prepared to defend the set play drawn up during the timeout in the final seconds of regulation, so he made a split-second adjustment and scored the tying goal with seven second remaining in regulation.
● In overtime, Powless scored his second goal of the game, calmly taking his time to pick his spot against the athletic Del Bianco to clinch a crucial win. Powless has been a part of four teams that have won NLL championships, and was clearly not overwhelmed by the moment.
If the Black Wolves make the playoffs, their success in close games should give them reason to feel confident. With the win Sunday, New England is now 3-0 in overtime games this season, and 4-0 in games decided by one goal Under coach Glenn Clark, New England is now 7-2 in sudden death over three seasons. Since the start of last year, the Black Wolves are 10-3 in one-goal games.
With the win Sunday, the Black Wolves are in the thick of the East Division playoff chase, just one game out of first place with three games to go. Three teams from each division make the playoffs. The East and West Division champs get a bye to the Division Final. Teams finishing second and third play a single-elimination Division Semifinal at the site of the higher seed during the week of April 30. The winner of that game visits the top seed for another single-elimination game the week of May 7. Dates for the best-of-three Championship Final are still TBD.