The New England Black Wolves (2-1) faced their first defeat of the season, falling 19-13 to the Minnesota Swarm (2-1) on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. Though the Black Wolves fought hard, the Swarm maintained control throughout the game ensuring it would be a constant uphill battle for the pack.
“As they had their opportunities and cashed in, so did we,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “I will tell you it was a back-and-forth game. The score isn’t really indicative of the tone of that game. I think they played great, and I would just say we were able to finish when we needed to.”
Swarm rookie sensation Miles Thompson demonstrated his strength throughout the game, collecting a career-high seven points with two goals and five assists. Swarm forward Shayne Jackson led Minnesota with four goals and three assists, while forward Callum Crawford added three goals and four assists of his own.
“It’s always a good feeling, winning on the road,” Thompson said. “This seems like a tough arena to win in. They got off to a good start, then we just worked hard out there and I think that’s what made the difference.”
For the Black Wolves, forward Kevin Buchanan scored five goals, tying a career high, and added four assists as well. Forward Jamie Lincoln had three goals, including two impressive dunks from behind the net, while forward Pat Saunders had two goals with five assists. Veteran goaltender Evan Kirk faced his biggest test this season, and was replaced by Tye Belanger in the second half.
“This week didn’t go as smoothly as the last two weeks,” Lincoln said. “I think we got a little bit away from our game plan. We had a lot of great opportunities, lots of good shots, our goalies made some saves. Sometimes in games you don’t get the bounces, and we kind of fell victim to that. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of hard work, and we gave up a lot of transitions. Offensively, we have to get up and down the floor and be willing to play some defense. We just have to clean it up, and we have to move on.”
Tensions ran high throughout the game, and Minnesota controlled the pace most of the way. New England swung the momentum a bit, but the Swarm’s aggressive defense stunted any real offensive attempts.
“We identified that, and we knew that was going to be the case,” said Black Wolves head coach Blane Harrison. “We tried to dictate it, but we were unsuccessful obviously. We were probably surprised by it. The smaller floor worked in their favor a little bit, so they were able to apply that press. We thought we were breaking it down, and in many cases we did. We outshot them 52-48, but more of theirs went in.”
The Black Wolves started off their inaugural season with strong performances offensively and defensively, and look to maintain the same intensity as they hit the road for the first time this season.
“I think, here tonight, Minnesota played a very different style of game than the first two games we played,” said Kevin Buchanan, an early difference maker for the Black Wolves so far. “It’s a learning experience for us that we just have to prep for different teams, and we have to mold them to the way we want to play.”
New England next faces the Edmonton Rush on the road in NLL Week 5 at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 30 while the Swarm visit the Buffalo Bandits at the same time.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Kevin Buchanan
2) Jamie Lincoln
3) Miles Thompson
Story by Alyssa McLaughlin (@BlackWolvesBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Khoi Ton.