The New England Black Wolves (2-0) carried over momentum from the team’s season opener and stunned the three-time defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks (0-2) with a convincing 17-7 home win on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. Coming off an impressive debut against the Buffalo Bandits last week, the Black Wolves let the fur fly again, this time against another division rival in the Knighthawks.
“We’re happy with a win, don’t get me wrong,” said Black Wolves head coach Blane Harrison. “It’s nice to have a convincing win, but we can’t let it get to our heads. We still have 16 more games to go.”
The Black Wolves controlled the pace of the game throughout, limiting the Knighthawks to just seven goals over four quarters. Goaltender Evan Kirk was tested often, but held strong with a save percentage of .840. Offensively, star forward Kevin Crowley had an impressive six-goal performance with 10 points (6+4), while Kyle Buchanan had six assists on the night.
“You can’t ever go into a game saying I’m going to score this many goals,” Crowley said. “I think it’s more about how are you going to contribute to help the team win. Last game, I had one goal and we won, and I stepped up my scoring this game and we won. It’s whatever I can do to help the team.”
The Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc held up well against an aggressive Black Wolves offense. Knighthawks transition player Jordan Hall and forward Cory Vitarelli each had two goals for Rochester. The defending champions looked to rebound from a tough loss to Toronto last week, but the Black Wolves would not let up as they led for most of the contest.
“First of all, I give a lot of credit to New England,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “They came out and they played a dynamite game, and they were tough to handle. I thought we were ready to play tonight, but mentally I don’t think we were ready to match what they had tonight.”
The crowd was ramped up throughout the game, and tensions flared for both sides. Major penalties were given out for fights, and the game ended with a scuffle with gloves being thrown down and sticks flying to the ground.
“In a game like that, you have to be careful because they’re a proud team and no one wants to get smacked like that,” Harrison said. “I certainly don’t and I’ve been on the other side of that. We reacted the same way and that’s just part of the game.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Kevin Crowley
2) Kyle Buchanan
3) Evan Kirk
The New England Black Wolves and Rochester Knighthawks both have a bye next weekend in NLL Week 3. The Black Wolves return to action Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. ET at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Minnesota Swarm. At 7:30 p.m. ET that night, the Knighthawks host the Toronto Rock for a rematch of Week 1.
Story by Alyssa McLaughlin (@BlackWolvesBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Khoi Ton.