UNCASVILLE - Reilly O'Connor followed up a hat trick in the season opener with four goals on Friday night in a 12-11 New England Black Wolves victory over the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush at Mohegan Sun Arena.
O'Connor also added two assists in the win for six points. Callum Crawford had six points on three goals and three assists to pace New England while Stephan Leblanc added two goals and an assist.
O'Connor got the scoring started just 1:56 into play and the Black Wolves (1-1) went up by two just over five minutes later on Dereck Downs' first career goal. Crawford got in on the action next, putting New England up 3-0 with 7:52 left in the quarter. The Rush (0-1) picked up their first of the game just 40 seconds later but John LaFontaine scored with just eight seconds left in the frame on an empty Saskatchewan net to put the Black Wolves up 4-1.
The Rush rattled off three goals in the opening three minutes of the second to tie the game, but two O'Connor goals and another from Crawford gave New England back a three goal cushion, 7-4, with 6:04 left in the quarter. The two teams traded goals over the following minutes but the Black Wolves headed into the break with a 9-7 advantage.
Saskatchewan again opened the scoring to start the third with a goal just 22 seconds into play and eventually took a 10-9 lead with 3:05 left. Crawford secured his hat trick to tie the score at 10-10 with 48 seconds left to end the third and Leblanc picked up his second of the night 1:34 into the fourth to put New England back up. O'Connor picked up his fourth of the night with 5:12 to play to put the Black Wolves up 12-10. Saskatchewan made it interesting when Robert Church found the back of the net with 1:09 remaining, but the Black Wolves defense held on to secure the victory.
Making his first start in goal for the Black Wolves, Alex Buque recorded 38 saves in the to get the victory. Mark Matthews led Saskatchewan with eight points on two goals and six assists while Robert Church and Ben McIntosh each recorded hat tricks in the loss for the Rush. Evan Kirk had 41 saves.
The Black Wolves will be back in action on January 12 when they travel to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks. Game time is set for 9 p.m. ET