NLL: Black Wolves clinch final Eastern Division playoff spot

Doug Jamieson makes a save. (Photo courtesy of the National Lacrosse League)

The New England Black Wolves took out the San Diego Seals 17-14 on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena to secure the Eastern Division’s final playoff spot.

New England got off to a howling start going up 7-2 by the end of the first quarter. Joe Resetarits and Brandon Clelland traded goals before the Black Wolves took a two-goal lead. Captain Brett Manny put a flying goal int he net, much to the delight of the 6,046 fans in attendance. David Brock also scored before San Diego’s Cam Holding put one between the pipes. Reilly O’Connor started New England’s four-goal run toward the end of the first quarter. Dave Emala, Callum Crawford and Stephan Leblanc all contributed goals for the Black Wolves in that span.

New England outscored San Diego 6-3 in the second quarter. Emala, Resetarits and Leblanc each added one for New England. Crawford added two this quarter. Adam Bomberry also scored his first of the night for New England. The three goals for San Diego came from Connor Kelly, Garrett Billings and Casey Jackson.

The third quarter was quiet; New England scored twice but the talk of the quarter was Connor Fields’  first NLL goal. The Albany grad had been rehabbing from knee surgery before his debut on Saturday. A prolific NCAA player, Fields scored at the 10:50 mark, ripping a shot over Doug Jamieson’s right shoulder.

With the Black Wolves up 15-6, the Seals tried to steal the game in the fourth, coming out with an eight-goal effort compared to New England’s two. They started with four goals in a span of 2:10. Casey Jackson scored back-to-back power play goals with Dave Emala out of the game for a match penalty. Garrett Billings also scored a power play goal and Connor Kelly capped the run just after the penalty expired. New England then sandwiched a goal from Turner Evans, but the Seals ended the game with three straight extra-attacker goals. It was a good effort from the Seals, but the Black Wolves’ strong play in the first three quarters allowed them to hang on for the win.

“New England is really good at home,” said Seals’ head coach Patrick Merrill. “They were aggressive and pushed the ball hard on us in the first half. We had some costly breakdowns on defense and costly turnovers on offense. We dug ourselves too big of a hole to comeback. I liked our resolve in the second half to attempt a comeback, but it was too little too late.”

The game was relatively penalty free with only nine infractions – this was a change from some of the play viewers have seen from the Black Wolves have seen this season. San Diego absolutely dominated the loose ball game by snagging 82 loose balls to New England’s 59. However, Doug Jamieson’s 48 saves were enough to secure the win for the Black Wolves.

San Diego remains tops in the West. They next face Saskatchewan, who sit just half a game back of them for first. New England visits Toronto.