Since their 24 goal meltdown at the hands of the Saskatchewan Rush, the New England Black Wolves have found their groove on the defensive side of the ball. Riding their goaltender Aaron Bold, the Black Wolves defense has only allowed 17 goals in the last two games. In New England’s three wins this season they are averaging just 9.3 goals allowed per game.
New England’s 52 goals allowed is third best in the National Lacrosse League and first in the East. Last Saturday, the 1st place Black Wolves limited the Rochester Knighthawks to a season low, eight goals. Rochester scored a total of 38 goals in their first two games. At one point in Saturday’s second half New England’s defense stymied Rochester for 25 minutes and 39 seconds. The Black Wolves scored three goals of their own in that span to break the tie and build a 9-6 lead.
The Black Wolves held on to that lead to beat the Knighthawks 9-8 and now stand at the top of the East Division standings. On Sunday, the Black Wolves will welcome the Knighthawks to their barn for the back end of a home-and-home with Rochester.
In that victory in Rochester, Aaron Bold set a new season-high with 48 saves, one shy of his career mark. Bold has seemed to find his rhythm in the last two games after being pulled against his former comrades in that defensive struggle in Saskatchewan. If he continues to get more comfortable in the black and orange of New England, that could be trouble for the rest of the NLL.
Another new face to this year’s Black Wolves team had a big game in Rochester last weekend. Stephan Leblanc, who was aquired in a trade with Toronto three games ago, picked up a season-high, six points against the Knighthawks. Leblanc had 73 points (20G, 53A) last season for the Rock, averaging 4.87 points per game. His addition to the offensive side along with the fire power of Shawn Evans, Kevin Crowley, and Reilly O’Connor is scary to think about. If Leblanc is that missing piece that New England has been looking for, opposing goaltenders will be having nightmares about facing this Black Wolves team.
Including this Sunday’s game, New England will face East Division opponents in their next three contests. Wins against Rochester on Sunday and in Toronto next weekend would give New England a firm grasp of the East Division lead as they will then face last place Buffalo.
The start time for Sunday’s contest at Mohegan Sun Arena has been moved to 1 p.m. to give the sports fans in New England ample time to enjoy Black Wolves action before settling in for the Patriots AFC Championship game. The Black Wolves and Mohegan Sun will be celebrating Native American Heritage Day with a variety of activities before face off with the Knighthawks.