Sunday evening’s game at Mohegan Sun Arena set up perfectly for the New England Black Wolves. They were home, well rested, and flying high, riding a three game win streak. On the flip side, the Buffalo Bandits were coming in after losing 18-13 in Rochester the night before.
Buffalo (5-2) bounced back in a big way and made New England (3-2) look like the team that played the night before, dominating in every aspect of the game. The Bandits scored early and often to beat the Black Wolves 15-5.
Dhane Smith pounced early for Buffalo, scoring just 30 seconds into the game. Callum Crawford continued his hot hand as he was able to answer 1:27 later but unfortunately for New England, this was as close as they would get to a lead.
Corey Small capitalized on a power play at 5:33 of the first quarter and it was off to the races from there for the Bandits, who would never look back.
Crawford scored his second of the game at 9:21 of the second quarter to cut the Bandits lead in half at 6-3. However, the Black Wolves would not score again until the 8:05 mark of the fourth quarter. That was over two full quarters, 31 minutes and 16 seconds, that Matt Vinc and the Buffalo defense kept New England’s offense off the scoreboard.
In that time Buffalo went on an 8-0 run and took over complete control of this East Division contest. Ironically, it was two similar runs that allowed Rochester to pull the game from Buffalo’s grasps the night before. Buffalo gave up separate 5 goal and 6 goal runs to shift the game from 6-5 in their favor, to 16-8, and out of their reach.
Vinc, who was pulled after giving up 13 goals in Rochester on Saturday night, stopped 39 of New England’s 44 shots to earn his fifth win of the season. Buffalo went 4-for-7 on the man advantage and had six different goals scorers, including three with hat tricks.
Smith, the 2016 NLL MVP, led the way for Buffalo with a game high 11 points (2G, 9A). Small had a seven point (4G, 3A) performance and former New England captain, Shawn Evans had six helpers. Chase Fraser and Thomas Hoggarth each had three goals and two assists. It was a very impressive offensive outburst for Buffalo who was without one of their biggest weapons, Josh Byrne.
The lone bright spot for New England was Crawford continuing to lead the offense. The former Buffalo star led the way for New England, picking up his second straight hat trick and third of the season. Colton Watkinson and JP Kealey also found the back of the net in defeat. New England’s five goals was the lowest goal total in the franchise’s five year history.
New England Head Coach Glenn Clark and General Manager Rich Lisk declared a goaltending dual before the season, giving Alex Buque and Doug Jamieson alternating starts and hoping one would take a hold of the starting job. Jamieson got the start on Sunday but was pulled in favor of Buque after giving up nine goals on 28 shots. Buque was a bit of an improvement for New England as he was able to stop 21 of 27 attempts. For the season, Buque carries a 2-0 record with an 11.48 goals against and a 76.8 save percentage. Comparably, Jamieson is 1-2 with a 13.74 goals against and a 75.9 save percentage.
The New England Black Wolves look to bounce back on Friday, February 1st when they travel to Georgia for their third meeting of the season with the Swarm. They will be back in action at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, February 9th when the face off with the Rochester Knighthawks.