A Year To Remember
In any year on any team, Kevin Crowley’s play would be noteworthy. But on a team ranked eighth in the league in scoring average at 10.75 goals per game, the seven-year veteran has essentially carried the offense while helping keep playoff hopes alive. At Colorado Saturday, Crowley had five goals, establishing a new single-season career high with 49 for the year. It was his seventh straight hat trick, his ninth in 10 games and his 12th of the season. Crowley extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one goal to 35, and now has 14 multiple-goal games this year. While Crowley’s league-leading goal total is impressive, it is also worth pointing out that he needs just 14 loose balls – a statistics that certainly reflects hustle and effort – to surpass the career-high total of 81 he had as a rookie.
A Mammoth Effort
New England turned in a huge defensive effort in the win at Colorado, limiting the Mammoth to the fewest goals since an 11-6 win at Georgia on January 17, 2016. This was the same Colorado team that scored 19 goals on New England at Mohegan Sun Arena back on February 18. The Black Wolves have adopted a more aggressive defensive approach in the last two games, and on Saturday, it resulted in a lot of Colorado shots fired in desperation as the shot clock expired. That partly explains the 28 missed shots by the Mammoth. The Black Wolves also caused 19 turnovers. And, of course, it helped that Aaron Bold, who leads the league with a career-best 621 saves, also had another big night. New England ranks eighth in the NLL in goals allowed (13.75 per game). But that statistic is skewed by losses at Saskatchewan (24-11 on 12/23), Toronto (21-9 on 1/27) and against Buffalo (20-7 on 3/23).
The Playoff Scramble Continues
The postseason picture in the East Division is not much clearer than it was heading into the weekend. All five teams are still alive. The Black Wolves are at Rochester on April 21, and cannot be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss or clinch with a spot with a win. There are scenarios where New England could win the division by sweeping its last two games. There are also scenarios where it could be eliminated with a 9-9 record. New England could take a major step toward its third straight postseason bid by completing a 3-0 season sweep of Rochester, which has won seven of its last 10 and is one of the hottest teams in the NLL. The Knighthawks (9-7) can clinch a playoff berth with a win, so there will be a great deal on the line next Saturday. The Black Wolves close at home on the 29th against the Swarm, who play at home on the 28th against Vancouver.