The New England Black Wolves and Colorado Mammoth met on Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena with both teams looking to end two game losing streaks. The two came in with identical 4-3 records and were the last teams in the National Lacrosse League to reach eight games played.
The Black Wolves have never won in five all-time meetings between the two teams. Coming into the game only one of those contests was decided by more than one goal. Sunday’s matchup became the second, as Colorado took complete control in the second half and beat New England 19-11.
After losing in ugly fashion in their last two games, Black Wolves’ Head Coach Glenn Clark made some changes to the lineup. Some of the changes were his decision and some were not. Matt Spanger and David Brock were placed on injured reserve so Nick Chaykowsky and Brooker Muir made their first appearances in the New England lineup. Perhaps the biggest change was who Clark decided to start in goal. Doug Jamieson got his first career start while veteran Aaron Bold started on the bench. It was not a pretty start for the second year goaltender, Jamieson. Colorado scored on their first shot and went on to put six of 14 first quarter shots past Jamieson in his first career start.
Just over a minute into the game Brad Self finished a give-and-go with Jeremy Noble to start the scoring. Noble then put one of his own shots past Jamieson who looked uncomfortable and rattled early on. Eli McLaughlin and Ryan Benesch added two more goals to give Colorado a 4-0 lead as the clock ticked down in the first quarter.
New England got a power play late in the opening quarter with one thing in mind, getting on the board. Kevin Crowley did just that as walked down the left side and beat Dillon Ward on the far side. For Crowley, the goal extended his streak to 27 consecutive games with a goal.
After Colton Watkinson was given a major for a huge open field hit – New England’s second major of the quarter – Benesch scored his second power play goal. Stephen Keogh, even in a new uniform, continued to be a thorn in the Black Wolves’ side as he scored his first of four goals in the game to finish the first quarter with a 6-1 Mammoth lead.
The second quarter was a much different story for Jamieson and the Black Wolves. Their new captain, Kyle Buchanan got them going 3:17 into the quarter while using a pick and screen from Crowley, fired a laser from the outside that beat Ward. Just 44 seconds later Stephan Leblanc cut the Mammoth lead in half with his 11th goal of the season, his ninth with the Black Wolves.
Soon after, Shawn Evans closed the gap even more as he was allowed to step into a shot from the outside and make it 6-4.
With the momentum clearly on their side New England kept throwing everything at Ward. Crowley and Leblanc picked up their second goals to tie the score with 4:40 left in the half. Evans then picked up his second of the game to give New England their first and only lead of the game late in the half.
Jamieson almost made it out of the second quarter without giving up a goal but with 1:02 left Noble stopped New England’s streak at six goals and started a run for the road team. A penalty on Leblanc with 16.1 seconds left in the half gave Colorado another man advantage. Zack Greer took advantage for Colorado beating Jamieson and the clock to give the lead back to the Mammoth with 1.4 seconds to go in the half.
Colorado scored five goals in the third quarter and after an early goal in the fourth, Jamieson was chased from the game. Aaron Bold came in as New England tried to battle back from a 14-9 deficit but it did not work out for the already struggling Black Wolves. They were outscored 6-2 in the final quarter and Colorado finished the game on a 13-4 run.
Colorado was 7 for 11 on the man advantage while New England was 1 for 2. The Black Wolves had the advantage in shots at 55-49 in the loss.
Colorado’s Ryan Benesch reached a milestone in the game when he picked up his 500th career assist. Benesch (2G, 6A), Colorado’s leading scorer, and Greer (3G, 5A) had a game-high eight points. Greer was one of three Mammoth players with a hat trick in the game. McLaughlin (3G, 1A) and Black Wolves killer, Keogh (4G, 3A) also led the way for Colorado. Crowley (4G, 3A), Evans (2G, 4A), and Leblanc (3G, 1A) continued to lead the way for the Black Wolves’ offense.
The reigning NLL Goaltender of the Year, Dillon Ward finished with 44 saves and Jamieson stopped 23 of 37 as he picked up the loss in his first career start. Bold made seven saves in relief.
New England and Colorado will meet again on April 14th at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Next up for the Black Wolves is next Saturday, February 24th when they will travel to Vancouver to take on the 1-9, Stealth. The Black Wolves will not be back home at Mohegan Sun Arena until march 16th for the back end of a home-and-home with Toronto.