Uncasville – The New England Black Wolves staged a remarkable comeback Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena against the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush, erasing a 7-1 second-quarter deficit on the way to a 14-13 victory.
The Black Wolves did not lead until Shawn Evans scored with 3:06 remaining to cap a run of four straight New England goals over a span of just over five minutes. Then it was left to goalie Evan Kirk, who made a number of tough saves in the closing minutes to preserve a win that snapped a six-game Rush winning streak.
New England (8-5) travels to Toronto to face the Rock Saturday night at 7 p.m. If the Black Wolves beat Toronto, and Georgia loses Sunday, New England clinches a playoff berth.
Kyle Buchanan tied a career-high with four goals, and also had two assists. Evans (three goals, six assists), Kevin Crowley (three goals, four assists) and Pat Saunders (two goals, two assists) also factored into the comeback as did a New England defense that held Saskatchewan’s potent attack to just five second-half goals and a scoreless stretch of 10 minutes, 30 seconds at the end of the game.
Saskatchewan (10-4) scored six goals on its first 16 shots and looked to be on its way to a rout. Five different Rush players scored as the visitors opened a 7-1 lead.
But the Black Wolves settled down after that, battling back into contention, as two goals by Evans and a solo goal by Buchanan moved New England within 8-4 at the half. A power play goal by Kevin Crowley made it 8-5 early in the third quarter.
Later in the third, New England twice answered Saskatchewan goals with immediate responses. A beautiful solo goal by Buchanan 11 seconds after a Rush goal made it 9-6. And Jordan Hall found the back of the net 23 seconds after a Saskatchewan goal to make it 10-7.
Shortly after that, Saunders beat Saskatchewan goalie Aaron Bold on a one-timer to the short side and the Black Wolves were within 10-8.
New England kept trading goals with Saskatchewan in the fourth quarter. Buchanan’s short-handed goal and a power play score from Saunders had New England within 12-10. After Matt Dinsdale’s goal made it 13-10 4:30 into the fourth quarter, the Black Wolves mounted their final flurry.