The acquisition of Johnny Powless paid immediate dividends for the Black Wolves in Vancouver Saturday night. A veteran left-hander in his seventh NLL season, Powless had two goals and an assist in the 12-11 comeback victory over the Stealth. The first goal, on a pick-and-roll with Stephan Leblanc, showcased part of the value Powless brings to the lineup. On the play, Leblanc drove deep inside, drew a defender and flipped a pass to a wide-open Powless who scored in close. Powless is known for his ability to be effective in the “dirty area” near the crease, and that inside lefty combination is something the Black Wolves have been searching for this season. Powless also scored a huge goal with 1:40 left in the third quarter to pull the Black Wolves within 9-8, striking from long range as the shot clock was about to expire.
Stephan Leblanc had four goals and an assist in the win over Vancouver. He also had six loose balls, tying a season high. Leblanc now has eight goals and eight assists in his last three games. He has 15 goals and 19 assists since being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Rock back in December.
With his combination of size and speed, Colton Watkinson was a highly touted prospect who was expected to make a quick impact in the NLL. The Black Wolves took the 6-foot-4 left-hander with the seventh pick in the 2017 NLL Entry Draft, believing he would energize their transition game. On Saturday night, Watkinson had his best game in a New England uniform, scoring two goals while collecting seven loose balls. Watkinson narrowly missed his first hat trick when a second-quarter goal was waved off because he had stepped in the crease. A Burlington, Ontario native, Watkinson had 111 goals and 79 assists with 150 ground balls in 83 games at Limestone College. He had 10 goals in his first season of Major Series Lacrosse with the Brooklin Redmen in 2017.
Jam In The Middle
While New England was in the midst of losing three straight, it never fell out of playoff contention in the East Division, where every team is hovering around .500. Only Buffalo (6-4) is two games above that mark. With the exception of Rochester, which has won three straight, every team in the East has either won or lost one in a row. In fact, across the NLL, only Saskatchewan (9-2) has pulled away. The Rush have already clinched a playoff spot.