The New England Black Wolves and Rochester Knighthawks came into Sunday afternoon’s game in opposite positions. New England won two in a row while Rochester dropped their previous three games. Sunday’s game was the back end of a home-and-home between the two East Division rivals after the Black Wolves outlasted the Knighthawks last weekend in Rochester.
The 1st quarter was action packed with a total of ten goals scored between the two. Some bad blood looked to spill over to this game after last week’s one goal win for New England in Rochester and like the case often is, Black Wolves captain Shawn Evans was right in the middle of everything.
Evans got the scoring started just 21 seconds into the game but Rochester’s Joe Resetarits answered right back 39 seconds later. This was a sign of things to come as the Black Wolves and Knighthawks went back and forth trading momentum throughout.
The Black Wolves finished the 1st quarter with a 6-4 lead. New England’s special teams was both good and bad in the 1st quarter as they scored three power play goals but also gave up two shorthanded tallies. Rochester also scored a four-on-four goal in the first frame. Two of New England’s power play goals came on a five minute power play after Billy Dee Smith was given a major for slashing Evans. The Black Wolves also surrendered both shorthanded goals to the Knighthawks on that long power play.
In contrast to the 1st quarter, the 2nd only saw two goals, both by Rochester. The quarter was end-to-end but most of the chances were one shot and done opportunities. New England held the 33-26 shot advantage after the 1st half but were shutout in the 2nd quarter as they went into the break tied at six.
The 2nd quarter was the third time this season that New England was shut out in a quarter. In total, the Black Wolves scoring drought lasted 31 minutes and 20 seconds before Reilly O’Connor scored with 2:36 remaining in the 3rd quarter. O’Connor broke the tie after he picked up a rebound in front of Matt Vinc and beat him low. Just 25 seconds later O’Connor slid behind the Rochester defense where Stephan Leblanc found him with a nifty pass and he beat Vinc again.
Resetarits got one back for Rochester with 31 seconds to go in the 3rd and then 29 seconds into the 4th Austin Shanks tied the game again. The Knighthawks were chasing the score the entire game as they never had the lead. They almost did but a goal by Cory Vitarelli at 10:40 of the 4th quarter was reversed because he stepped in the crease. New England answered with a goal that did count as Kevin Crowley scored his second of the game to give the Black Wolves the lead for good with 9:06 remaining.
Crowley and Evans both finished off hat tricks in the game’s final three minutes while Aaron Bold continued his stellar play in net making 15 saves in the 4th quarter. Bold had 44 saves in total after stopping a season-high 48 in last weekend’s win over the Knighthawks.
The Black Wolves are back in action next Saturday when they visit Toronto for the NLL Game of the Week. New England will be back at Mohegan Sun Arena on February 9th when they take on the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m.