Black Wolves lose their third straight, falling to Colorado 19-11
Mohegan — Glenn Clark, coach of the New England Black Wolves, made the following declaration following Sunday's 19-11 loss to the Colorado Mammoth, the fourth time this season the Wolves have given up 18 or more goals.
“When we fall off the cliff, we fall off the cliff,” Clark said.
He wasn't wrong.
The Black Wolves, on a day a pair of 6-foot-4 starting defensemen, David Brock and Matt Spanger, were both on injured reserve, also gave a predetermined start to backup goalie Doug Jamieson.
Colorado scored on its very first shot, just 1 minute, 9 seconds in, and four times on their first seven shots, to set the tone. By the time the first period was over at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Mammoth (5-3) led 6-1 and New England had incurred 16 penalty minutes.
It was the sixth time this season the Wolves (4-4) have allowed their opponents to score first and the third straight loss for a team which was once 4-1 and in first place in the National Lacrosse League's Eastern Division, being outscored 58-33 during that three-game span.
“It's almost comical,” Clark said. “Our starts are horrendous.”
Things did get better. New England ignited the crowd of 5,720, scoring six straight goals to start the second quarter to take a 7-6 lead. Stephan Leblanc scored two and Shawn Evans two, with Evans receiving a pass from Kevin Crowley and spinning to shoot to give the Black Wolves the one-goal lead with 2:20 to play in the half.
But the game quickly spun back in the other direction. The Mammoth scored twice to end the second quarter, getting a goal by Zack Greer on a power play for an 8-7 lead with 1.4 seconds to play before halftime. They led 13-9 after three quarters and 14-9 1:42 into the fourth quarter when Jamieson was pulled in favor of Aaron Bold in goal, creating a mock cheer from the fans.
"The momentum left us and jumped on their backs," Clark said.
The Mammoth capped their scoring with five goals in a span of 5:08 in the fourth quarter before Kevin Buchanan finally ended the Wolves drought with a goal in the final minute.
Crowley had four goals and three assists for New England, the 27th straight game in which the right-hander has scored. Leblanc had three goals and an assist and Evans two goals and four assists.
Stephen Keogh had four goals and three assists for Colorado and Eli McLaughlin and Greer had three goals each. Ryan Benesch added two goals and six assists.
“I was telling the guys before, 'I don't even like to lose in checkers,'” New England defender and assistant captain Brett Manney said. “The fact we're losing these games, I'm pissed. … There's still plenty of games left in the season. It's not 'all hope is lost.' But even me, I've got to do better; I've got to find it in myself to do a better job.”
“I think they're tripping over their lips right now (pouting),” Clark said. “It starts rolling downhill on them. I hope they don't think it's fun play time and we're going to keep rolling that out because we're not. Things are going to change.”
Clark said called it a challenge for the coaching staff as to how to react to the Black Wolves' recent slide. The defense was overhauled in the offseason and allowed just 8.7 goals per game during a three-game winning streak Dec. 29-Jan. 21, when New England forged its way into first place.
Clark spoke earlier this week about predictability and being able to have confidence in the product that's on the floor game in and game out. Then came Sunday, when the Wolves racked up season highs in penalty minutes (30) and power play goals allowed (5).
“You pat 'em on the back. You kick 'em in the shins. You do a little bit of everything,” Clark said. “(During a game), you have all these emotions minute by minute. The simple answer is you try different things. If it works, you're a genius.”
The Black Wolves, now in third place behind Buffalo (6-3) and Toronto (5-4) are on the road next week against another West Division team, at Vancouver.
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