About a month ago, in mid-February the New England Black Wolves were in the midst of a three game losing streak. New England lost those three games by a combined 25 goals and something needed to change. After already completely transforming their defense in the offseason, that change was going to come on the offensive side of the floor.
It meant there was time for a very difficult decision to be made by the Black Wolves hierarchy and on February 28th New England traded their leading scorer and two-time National Lacrosse League Most Valuable Player, Shawn Evans to the Buffalo Bandits. In return the Black Wolves received Callum Crawford, a very talented offensive player in his own right. On Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, those two offensive stars will look to punish their former teams in a huge East Division matchup.
The Black Wolves won two straight to regain the top spot in the East after that three game skid. Riding high with their new look offense, they suffered a disappointing home defeat at the hands of the Toronto Rock last week but still remain in first place. On the other side of the floor, the Bandits have lost four straight games and now find themselves at the bottom of the tight East standings, still only one game out of first place.
For the Bandits, a four game losing streak does not mean that their newest addition, Evans, has disrupted anything. In fact, Evans has six goals and three assists in three games with his new Buffalo teammates, including hat tricks in the last two games. Buffalo’s leading scorer, Dhane Smith has also had two hat tricks in the three games since Evans joined the Bandits. Smith has picked up eight goals and 10 assists in those three games.
Since joining the Black Wolves, Crawford has picked up two goals and five assists in two games. More newcomers to the pack in New England, Johnny Powless and Stephan Leblanc have also made great contributions on the offensive end. Powless has four goals and two assists in three games and Leblanc has 17 goals and 27 assists in 10 games with New England. Continuing his incredible play is Kevin Crowley who last week scored a goal in his 30th consecutive NLL game and also picked up his 500th career point. Crowley is tied with Buffalo’s Smith for third in the NLL with 30 goals, including hat tricks in four of his last five games.
Friday night’s game will be the third of five straight against East Division foes for New England. It is also the first of back to back games for the Black Wolves who are playing in consecutive days for the first time this season. They will travel to Georgia after Friday’s game and then visit Buffalo next weekend to close out an extremely important stretch for New England as first and last in the East Division are only separated by one game. Face off on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena is at 7:30 p.m. EST for Hometown Heroes Night in New England.