On a night that started with so much celebration, it ended in shambles for the New England Black Wolves. Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena was Native American Heritage Night and the Black Wolves had a new star player…kind of.
A ceremonial face off kicked this game off between New England (7-8) and Georgia (10-4) with Super Bowl champion and New England Patriots wide receiver, Chris Hogan in the spotlight. Hogan signed an honorary contract with the Black Wolves before the game. He was a high school All-American in lacrosse and played collegiately for Penn State University before switching to football.
“The last I played actual lacrosse was probably my senior year of college, my last game there,” Hogan said. “I coached a little bit during the lockout. I coached at a local high school. I pick a stick up here and there but actual playing the game, I haven’t played in a while.”
Perhaps New England should have taken the honorary out of Hogan’s contract and put him on the field as they were blasted by a Georgia team that came out with a vengeance.
Georgia’s Randy Staats scored just 40 seconds into the game and added another goal and three assists before the end of the first quarter. The Swarm led the game 6-1 at the end of the first and when Staats completed his hat trick 50 seconds into the second quarter, it was a 7-1 deficit for New England. Staats finished the game with five goals and six assists for his fifth hat trick on the season, third straight after missing four games. His 58 points now puts him 20th in the NLL as he is the only player in the top 25 with as few as 10 games on the season.
Black Wolves goalie, Evan Kirk, who was outstanding facing 70 shots on Sunday against Toronto was pulled by Head Coach Glenn Clark only 11 minutes into the game after giving up 6 goals on 18 shots.
“That wasn’t on him. That was a momentum shift. No (it was not on Kirk) they were just destroying us and picking us apart. Guys were just making horrible decisions out there.”
New England played even with Georgia in the second quarter but still trailed 11-6 going into halftime. The deficit only grew in the second half as Georgia put two more goals in by the two and a half minute mark to make it 13-6. From there the Black Wolves played almost neck and neck with the Swarm, creating some entertaining up and downs with quality saves from the goaltenders, Doug Jamieson and Mike Poulin.
New England’s Jamieson stopped 26 of the 41 shots he faced in the game while Poulin went 38 for 49.
Georgia’s top NLL offense had three players (Staats, Kiel Matisz, Johnny Powless) with hat tricks and three others (Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson, Jordan Hall) put in two apiece. All but one of those six players had over seven total points in the game.
For New England, Kevin Crowley had another strong game with his seventh hat trick of the season and adding three assists for a team high six points. Kevin Buchanan had two goals and two assists while Shawn Evans contributed a goal and three helpers. One positive for the Black Wolves is that they got scoring from everywhere as nine different players scored goals, including two defensemen (Sheldon Burns and Joel Coyle) and Brett Bucktooth who netted his first of the year.
“You’re never as bad as you think, and you’re never as good as you think,” Clark said. “We come off that 4-1 roll and we thought things were going in the right direction, beat Georgia, but they sure woke us up tonight.”
New England looks to bounce back next wee