Black Wolves, Rush will put offseason blockbuster trade to the test

The offseason trade between the New England Black Wolves and the Saskatchewan Rush will be put to the test for the first time Saturday, as the teams meet at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatchewan.

In the trade, the teams swapped starting goaltenders, with the Black Wolves receiving goalie Aaron Bold, John LaFontaine, the eighth overall pick in this year's National Lacrosse League Draft and a second-round pick in 2018 in exchange for goalie Evan Kirk.

New England started the season with a 13-11 victory over the defending NLL champion Georgia Swarm on Dec. 8 before seeing a bye week on the schedule. Saskatchewan is also 1-0, defeating the Toronto Rock 17-9 Dec. 16.

"To be honest, I haven't really thought about the scenario of Aaron Bold going back and playing against Evan Kirk," New England coach Glenn Clark said in a conference call this week. "I think it probably means a lot to those two individually, but for us, it's a contest we want to win, so we focus on the team and the little things that we need to do well to be successful.

"(The Rush are) just so good, which concerns me. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they don't waver. ... If you try and cheat, if you miss assignments, they kill you."

Ben McIntosh led the Rush with five goals in the opener against Toronto, while Jeff Shattler had a team-high eight points, with two goals and six assists.

The Black Wolves, meanwhile, trailed 9-5 in the third quarter after allowing Georgia to score seven straight goals before launching a comeback. Shawn Evans had two goals and seven assists for the Wolves, while Kevin Crowley had four goals and an assist and Bold made 33 stops.

New England beat Saskatchewan 13-12 last season in the teams' only meeting.

Clark said New England needs to keep moving in the right direction, coming off last season's record of 8-10.

"We talked about how we think we've made positive strides, positive changes, but until you prove it, it doesn't really matter," Clark said. "This is a good opportunity to test that against a really good competitor. ... Saskatchewan has arguably been one of the top two teams in the league the past four or five years. It'll be another challenge for our group."

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