For the second time in three games, the Black Wolves went more than 30 minutes without scoring a goal during Sunday’s 11-9 win over Rochester. New England overcame a similar drought in a victory over Vancouver back on December 29th. In each case, rather than give in to frustration, the Black Wolves continued to apply offensive pressure while relying on a re-tooled defense to keep the Knighthawks off the board. New England finally broke through in the 13th minute of the third quarter, when Reilly O’Connor scored twice in a 25-second span to snap a 6-6 tie, the second of which was his 100th career point. Rochester would battle back to tie, but those two goals helped get the offense on track for a strong fourth quarter. “Obviously we had a great start, and then it went a little stale for a bit but I think the key is, like anything in life, keep working hard, keep chipping away and good things will happen,” O’Connor said. “We just stuck to our system. I think the biggest thing is to stay positive. They’re a great team and a great defense, and they have one of the best goalies in the league. We were getting good looks. They weren’t falling, but again, we stuck to it and it worked out for us tonight.” Learning to win close games now will certainly pay dividends for the Black Wolves when the playoffs begin.
Newcomer Stephan Leblanc – a veteran forward acquired from Toronto on December 20th in a trade for Sheldon Burns – continues to settle in on the left side for the Black Wolves. Leblanc had his first multiple-goal game Sunday, finishing with two goals and a pair of assists. Like most good offensive players, Leblanc distributes as well as he scores. Through three games, he already has seven assists. For comparison, New England assist leader Shawn Evans has nine assists in that same span. Leblanc has 254 goals and 363 assists in his NLL career.
The first-place Black Wolves are 4-1 for the first time since moving to Mohegan Sun from Philadelphia, and are 3-0 at home for the first time since relocation. The 2017 team had a chance to start 3-0 at home, but dropped an overtime thriller to Buffalo on February 19, 2017. That Black Wolves team finished 5-4 at home. In 2016, the Black Wolves were 6-3 at Mohegan Sun Arena. The 4-1 record is tied for the best in the NLL.