The New England Black Wolves (2-5) were unable to get back in the win column, dropping its fifth-straight game, while the Colorado Mammoth (4-3) ended its three-game slide with a 14-12 road win at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday afternoon.
“We were both desperate teams coming into this game,” said Mammoth forward Adam Jones. “I think getting off to a good start gave us confidence.”
After a tough OT loss to Toronto on Friday night, the Black Wolves could not build off that performance. The Mammoth controlled the pace of the game throughout, never allowing the Black Wolves a chance to flip the script. The Mammoth were able to get their record back above .500, while the Black Wolves continue to fall further and further behind the rest of the East Division.
“I think consistency is one of the things we’ve got work on,” said Black Wolves offensive coordinator Jim Milligan. “At times we have it, at times we let it go. At times our offense matched up very well with their defense, and we had the drive to go to the net. Some nights it’s there, some nights it’s not. We have to have that every night. We’ve got to find it within ourselves.”
As the game continued, both teams began pushing and shoving as the final whistle and the possibility of ending their losing streak became a reality. However, with the game on the line, the Black Wolves bared their teeth and let the fur fly. Ultimately, it was a Mammoth goal in the final 30 seconds of the game that sealed their fate.
“Our number ones need to be our number ones,” said Milligan. “The last couple of games on offense, it hasn’t been. And tonight, maybe our goaltending- and two or three of the ‘D’ guys that we put a lot of stock in- never did the job.”
Black Wolves took out veteran goaltender Evan Kirk early in the first quarter, after he allowed 5 goals with only 4 saves. His replacement, backup goaltender Tye Belanger, allowed 9 goals, but had a save percentage of .804 with 37 saves. Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward stood strong against the fiery Black Wolves offense, allowing 12 goals and recording a save percentage of .803 with 49 saves.
“It was just little squeakers,” Belanger said. “I would say that’s a little bit of rust on my part. That’s easily corrected. I felt like I was good out there; I was seeing the ball well. Just some unfortunate goals would go in, little squeakers and some timely goals as well.”
For the Black Wolves, forward Kevin Crowley had five goals and four assists while Brett Bucktooth and Jamie Lincoln added two goals apiece. On the other side, Adam Jones gave the Mammoth offense life with four goals and three assists. Three of Jones’ goals came in the first quarter alone. Colorado’s Alex Turner added three goals as well.
Originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET start, the game was delayed an hour due to weather-related issues that saw the Mammoth’s equipment arrive late with some of it not making it to Mohegan Sun at all. Colorado, playing in mixed and matched gear, still found a way.
“A couple of my goals, I was just running up the floor and we had some defensive guys transitioning the ball up the floor,” said Jones. “To be honest, I wasn’t even using my stick so I didn’t know where it was going. If I don’t know where it’s going, I don’t think ‘Kirky’ knew where it was going either. A couple of them were pretty lucky, but it was good to get off to a good start, knowing we’ve lost three in a row.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Adam Jones
2) Dillon Ward
3) Kevin Crowley
The New England Black Wolves now enter two bye weekends and return to action on Saturday, March 14 when the team visits the Minnesota Swarm at 8 p.m. ET. The Colorado Mammoth play next weekend on Saturday, Feb. 28 on the road against the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m. ET.
By Alyssa McLaughlin (@BlackWolvesBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Khoi Ton.