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Rough Get Going: ‘Necks Over Black Wolves, 9-8

The Calgary Roughnecks (1-2) earned its first win of the season by defeating the New England Black Wolves (1-1) with a 9-8 road win on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Roughnecks used the frustration of dropping its first two games to propel themselves to a strong win over a remarkably improved Black Wolves team.

“I thought we could’ve been better on the offensive end as far as executing and scoring,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “We got better chances, we got to the net, and we hit a lot of bars. From a Calgary Roughnecks’ position, we did a great job offensively and our goaltending and defense bailed us out. There’s going to be a point in the short term that our offense will go off for 12-15 goals at some point and we’re looking forward to that.”

“I think at times we were a little stale offensively in terms of ball movement,” said New England Black Wolves head coach Glenn Clark. “It wasn’t as active as the first week. When you get into a pattern, sometimes it takes a while to shake yourselves out of it. It was one of those games where we were struggling to score and you’ve got to credit [Frankie] Scigliano he played well and we couldn’t convert.”

The Roughnecks defense cut off key passing lanes throughout the game, making sure they outshot the Black Wolves by over 10 shots. Using the shot advantage, the offense was able to rattle off nine goals on 55 shots through short-handed goals and great passes. Jeff Shattler finished with a hat trick and an assist, while Curtis Dickson finished with two goals and an assist. 

“I thought they had some guys that we had to put some pressure on,” Malawsky admitted. “Our goalie has been stopping shots from the outside, so we didn’t have to flex way out there and we had the ability to just pack it in, get in those lanes and stop those shots. There are certain guys on their team that we identified that may not be able get the ball on their stick quick enough and we were all over them. We had a combination in the back field.”

“We were looking for looks each shift, and we were fortunate to get some resets and give our defense a little break,” said Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler. “I know they were getting a lot of resets and loose balls for their team. Evan Kirk is a great goalie, I don’t know how many shots we had, but I know we were peppering him and he kept his team in the game. I’ve played against him and I’ve played with him, so I know he’s a great goalie. For us to only put up nine goals for as many shots as we had, he had a great game.”

For the Black Wolves, the defense was slow to get back in transition and did not cut off passing lanes at all. Goalkeeper Evan Kirk kept the pack in the game, he faced a pepper of shots left and right and ended with 46 saves after facing 55 shots on goal. Offensively, the pack played catch up more than anything else as missed opportunities and costly turnovers proved to finish them off early in the game. Pat Saunders and Kevin Buchanan ended up with two goals, while Sheldon Burns collected two goals and one assist.

“Obviously it wasn’t the best game and it was a home opener too,” said Black Wolves forward Shawn Evans, the 2015 league MVP who was facing his former team for the first time. “We didn’t want to come out like that and be that flat. We battled back hard and the best thing is we have the chance to get back on the floor and play Sunday to regroup and get back there and get a win. We have to have a short memory after that game.”

“I think we had some chances down in the end of the fourth quarter,” Clark said. “It’s a refocus and it’s getting back to where we want to be offensively.”

Three Stars of the Game:

1) Evan Kirk
2) Jeff Shattler
3) Curtis Dickson

The New England Black Wolves (1-1) are back in action Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET in a road game against the Georgia Swarm (1-1). The Calgary Roughnecks (1-2) have a bye week but return to action January 30th as they take on the Vancouver Stealth (1-1) at 9 p.m. ET.

Story by Alyssa McLaughlin (@BlackWolvesBeat) for NLL.com.