NLL: Back-to-back wins for ‘Wolves

A mere week after meeting at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, the New England Black Wolves and Rochester Knighthawks battled once more. And just like that meeting last week, the Black Wolves (4-1) emerged the victor, defeating the Knighthawks (2-4) 11-9.

Black Wolves head coach Glenn Clark told the team’s website earlier in the week that execution would be key to earning a second straight win against Rochester, and their offense showed that they took that advice to heart.

Two Shawn Evans’ goals early in the first quarter gave New England a 3-1 lead. Three minutes later, Stephan Leblanc added a tally to further distance the Black Wolves. Rochester then went on a three-goal tear to tie the game, but Kevin Crowley scored his first of the afternoon 20 seconds later to re-establish the Black Wolves’ lead. Leblanc and Rochester’s Jake Withers traded goals in the final three minutes of the first quarter.

Brad Gillies knotted the game for the Knighthawks in the second quarter’s opening seconds. The remainder of the second frame was a defensive showcase, and neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Black Wolves and Knighthawks combined for 40 shots in the first quarter, but found themselves stuck at 17 in the second.

That stalemate continued until the waning minutes of the third quarter – a period of 26:40 – until New England’s Reilly O’Connor stepped up, scoring two goals in 25 seconds to push the Black Wolves ahead 8-6.

But you can never count out the five-time NLL champions. Joe Resetarits answered for Rochester with 31 seconds left in the quarter, and Austin Shanks knotted the game yet again at the top of the fourth.

With time ticking away, New England could have panicked, but instead relied on their theme of execution. Crowley netted his second of the game with 9:06 left to put the Black Wolves ahead for good. Seven minutes later, Evans notched his third goal of the game to pad the score, and then Crowley joined him in the hat trick-club a minute later. The Knighthawks tried a last-minute comeback with a Cody Jamieson goal with a little over a minute left, but it was too little, too late.

Black Wolves goaltender Aaron Bold stymied 42 Knighthawks shots, delivering another strong performance in net for his fourth win this season. Despite the loss, 13-year veteran Matt Vinc was his typical brick-wall self, recording 43 saves for Rochester.

The Knighthawks have almost two weeks to prepare for their next opponents, Thruway rival the Buffalo Bandits. New England will travel to Toronto to take on the Rock next Saturday night.