The New England Black Wolves were riding high coming into Friday night’s back end of their home-and-home set with the Toronto Rock. When they last stepped off the Mohegan Sun Arena floor, New England was searching for answers as they looked to end their three game losing streak. They have since flipped the script and traded away two-time National Lacrosse League MVP, Shawn Evans, added two new offensive pieces, and started a new streak, a two game winning streak.
Last Sunday New England beat Toronto 8-7 in overtime at Air Canada Centre. Five days later, the Rock were looking for payback. A five goal 2nd quarter and four goal 4th quarter separated the Rock in a once promising matchup with the Black Wolves. Toronto took over the game late in the 2nd quarter and did not look back, beating New England 14-9 on Friday night.
After a quick start which saw Toronto’s Kieran McArdle score one minute into the game, New England grabbed hold of the game early on. Playing in his first home game at Mohegan Sun Arena, Johnny Powless tied the game 26 seconds after McArdle started the scoring and then Stephan Leblanc put the Black Wolves on top of his former mates. The Rock tied the score soon after but after a fast and furious start in the first three minutes, the pace slowed down as the 1st quarter came to a close.
New England rookie Anthony Joaquim, the eight overall pick in the 2017 NLL draft, forced a turnover in front of his own net with just over two minutes left in the 1st quarter and took it the length of the floor to break the tie and score his first career NLL goal. Former Rock, Leblanc followed that up with another goal as the clock ticked down to end the 1st quarter and give the Black Wolves a two goal lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
After going scoreless in his previous two games, Adam Jones quickly answered with a goal early in the 2nd quarter before McArdle tied the game with his second of the game. This was the beginning of a 5-2 advantage for Toronto in the 2nd quarter which left New England looking to answer a 7-5 deficit in the second half.
Under three minutes into the second half, New England tried to get going as newcomers Callum Crawford and Powless set up Kevin Crowley for a nice goal and his 500th career point. Crowley finished the game with another hat trick, his seventh of the season and fifth in the last seven games. Crowley also extended his goal scoring streak to 30 straight games with a goal.
From there Toronto took over the game as they outscored New England 7-4 in the second half. Toronto received contributions from all over as eight different players scored a goal and 12 players picked up a point. McArdle led the way with three goals and Rob Hellyer picked up a game high eight points with a goal and seven assists. Adam Jones, who was held scoreless in the last two games, had a huge game, picking up two goals and five assists. Jones was joined with two goals by Brett Hickey, Dan Litner, and Reid Reinholdt.
For New England, other than Crowley’s three goals, the major contributions came from midseason pickups Crawford (1G, 3A), Powless (2G, 1A), and Leblanc (2G, 4A).
Aaron Bold followed up last week’s career high in saves with a 44 save effort for the Black Wolves while Nick Rose stopped 38 shots for the Rock.
New England still holds on to first place in the East, for now. They will look to bounce back against another East Division foe when they face off with Buffalo next Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena.