The New England Black Wolves have not started 2-0 since the 2015 season, their inaugural season at Mohegan Sun Arena. This season, the Black Wolves have opened with two wins and now welcome the expansion New York Riptide to Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday as they look to make that three. A 3-0 start would be the best start in the six year history of the franchise.
New England (2-0) opened with consecutive 12-8 victories in Toronto and Saskatchewan while New York (0-2) has dropped road contests over the border in Halifax and Vancouver.
Black Wolves General Manager Rich Lisk spoke on behalf of his squad saying, “We are very excited to get home to The Den and play in front of our pack. After starting on the road there is no better feeling than stepping into the Mohegan Sun Arena and feeling the energy of our fans.”
That excitement and sense of an added boost was clearly evident last season when the Black Wolves went 7-2 on the floor at Mohegan Sun Arena. The 7,074 person capacity of Mohegan Sun Arena is far and away the smallest arena in the NLL but has proven over the years to be one of the best home floor advantages in the league.
New England comes back home with five of their top six scorers from last season and coincidentally, the one absentee from the mix will be wearing a Riptide jersey on Friday night. The Black Wolves’ high powered offense runs through Callum Crawford who is off to another hot start with six goals and seven assists in the team’s first two games. Crawford currently sits second in the NLL in goals and third in points.
While Crawford has led the team in points and goals for the first two games, there is a new guy on the scene. Andrew Kew, the third overall selection in the 2019 NLL Draft, has three goals and seven assists in his first two games for the Black Wolves. Not so new are returning offensive weapons Stephan Leblanc, Reilly O’Connor, Joe Resetarits, and Dereck Downs.
On the back end, New England returns Doug Jamieson in net and captain Brett Manney on defense. New England is fifth in the NLL with 16 goals against thus far, while sporting a top three goal differential. Jamieson is fourth in the league with 89 saves and a .848 save percentage.
The Riptide may be new to the National Lacrosse League but they are not at all unfamiliar with the Black Wolves, or Mohegan Sun Arena. There are seven former Black Wolves making their return to New England including one of last season’s top scorers, Tyler Digby (27G, 45A). Connor Kelly and Tyson Bomberry, both products of Avon Old Farms, also return to Connecticut for the opposition. The wild card in the mix for New York is the top pick from the 2019 NLL Draft, Tyson Gibson, who is also the son of Black Wolves offensive coordinator Darryl Gibson.
Following Friday’s contest, New England will not return to action again until January 18, 2020 when the Black Wolves play five straight home games to start the New Year. The Black Wolves will welcome the Philadelphia Wings on January 18th for the first of two matchups in four weeks at Mohegan Sun Arena. Even after a 2-0 start, the next nine games could make or break New England’s season as they matchup with East Division foes in six of those games.
New England and New York face off at 7:30 P.M. on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.