NLL: Suspension under appeal, Crawford leads Black Wolves to victory

Callum Crawford tries to get past Steph Charbonneau. (Photo credit: Tracey Happold-Brown)

Sunday afternoon the New England Black Wolves (7-4) defeated the Colorado Mammoth (3-7) 17-11 in front of 4,954 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena. The win moved the Black Wolves to 6-1 at home this season and completed their three game home stand where they outscored their opponents 47-33 and twice scored a season high 17 goals in two of the games (Philadelphia and Colorado).

But this is not the only story with this game. Callum Crawford, New England’s best player with four goals and seven assists, was only able to play while a six-game suspension is being appealed. He may have played his last game until the season finale on April 27th when they visit Rochester. If the suspension is upheld or the appeal dropped by the PLPA, Crawford will miss a significant portion of the season.

The Black Wolves currently hold a 4.5 game lead on the final playoff spot, so their playoff berth should not be in danger. What is in danger is the opportunity for New England to better their playoff position. Two games separate first to fourth. And any games Crawford misses could impact their position. With them currently being 6-1 at home, one of the top two seeds would be fantastic for the Black Wolves.

The game started as if the Black Wolves would run away with it early by scoring the only two goals of the opening quarter. In the last three quarters of play (Toronto 2nd half) the Black Wolves have only allowed two goals.

But in the second and third quarters the offense came to life by both teams scoring a combined 19 goals and it could have been a lot more if it wasn’t for the goaltending of Dillon Ward and Doug Jamieson at both ends of the floor.

Colorado would get as close as 12-10 after Eli McLaughlin recorded his fourth of the night to go along with three assists to basically carry the team, but the weight was too much as he just couldn’t get them across the finish line.

Ryan Lee chipped in with a pair of goals to go along with his four assists, but what was huge was the defense of the Black Wolves as they held Ryan Benesch to just a goal and two assists.

New England was led by Crawford (4G/7A), Tyler Digby (4G/2A), Reilly O’Connor (1G/6A) and Stephan LeBlanc (1G/5A). This was a total team effort in this victory.

Crawford is currently first in goals (34) and points (81) and second in assists (47). He was well on his way to an MVP season and no doubt this suspension could take him completely out of the running. If Crawford gets a third match penalty by January 18, 2020 (two years from first one) he could be assessed and additional 10 game suspension.

New England is off this week as they prepare for a two game road trip starting with Vancouver on March 16.

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