For the first time ever, the New England Black Wolves (8-7) faced off with the San Diego Seals (9-5) on Saturday night. And what a huge game it was in the first meeting between the two clubs from opposite coasts.
At the opening face-off, New England either needed to win, or hope Rochester lost on top of Philadelphia’s loss earlier in the day. Both scenarios would clinch a playoff berth for the Black Wolves…but New England really wanted to be in control of their own fate going into their last home game of the regular season.
San Diego’s only trip to the East was back in February, the day after Valentine’s Day, when they lost a close one goal game to Toronto. This weekend, they rounded out their commitment to East Division teams with back-to-back road games on Friday in Georgia before traveling to New England on Saturday morning.
San Diego’s star on offense, Austin Staats, was out for this one because of an injury suffered on Friday night in Georgia. That left a huge void which was clearly felt by the Seals. The West leading squad was one of the best offenses in the entire National Lacrosse League but without Staats, they were clearly missing that major threat and needed to keep the game tight early if they wanted to pull this one out down the final stretch.
In the end, New England dominated on both ends and even while ending a three game losing streak, proved yet again that they are a force in the NLL and a team that can bring a championship to New England.
In the 17-14 victory on Saturday, New England saw Callum Crawford get back on track with a huge nine point game and the secondary scoring really blossomed with nine different goal scorers. Crawford got back in the mix for the NLL’s top goal scorers and point getters with three goals and nine points. Davey Emala put together his first professional hat trick and Joe Resetarits scored seven points (2G, 5A) after he was acquired midseason from Rochester. Resetarits has been huge with 8 goals and 15 points since coming over from the Knighthawks.
New England took an early lead with a 7-2 score in the first quarter and continued to dominate at 13-5 through to halftime.
Doug Jamieson stopped 48 of 62 total shots from the West Division leading Seals.
San Diego struggled in the absence of Staats but got key contributions from Kelly and Jackson who accounted for half of San Diego’s total goals. Seals’ goalie Frank Scigliano was pulled after stopping only 14 of 26 shots and Carlson stopped 26 of 31 shots in relief.
With the win, New England clinched a playoff spot and even kept themselves alive to jump to the third spot in the East with two games remaining. The Black Wolves also continued their streak of winning every game that they have had offensive contributions from at least three defensive or transition players. New England has yet to lose this season when receiving three or more goals from transition or defensive players.
San Diego showed their travel fatigue down the stretch as they scored one goal in the third quarter before battling back to get eight in the final frame. The Black Wolves led by as many as 10 before the Seals’ big fourth quarter. The 17 goals ties a season high for New England.
Next for the Black Wolves is a face-off set for 7:30 p.m. in Toronto on April 12th. New England hopes to clinch a home playoff game with wins in their final regular season games and help from the opposition.