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Black Wolves riding optimism


Special to the Chronicle

Shawn Evans of the New England Black Wolves is one of the most-honored players in lacrosse. As he looks forward to the start of another season, he’s hopeful there will be another trophy in the near future.

The Black Wolves made significant off-season moves to strengthen their defense. Evans, a consistent 100-point scorer during his National Lacrosse League career, says that means “we have to do our job, execute when we get our chances and limit our mistakes” on attack.

“Rich [general manager Lisk] and the staff knew we wanted to fight for a title and [he] went out and got us an all-league goalie [Aaron Bold], a couple of big defensemen and some high Draft choices,” said Evans. “A successful season is one when you give yourself a chance to win a championship.”

“We’re anxious to get started after a couple of weekend training camps,” he added. “Winning is fun and it’s why I keep playing. We need to be able to finish those 1- and 2-goal games this year.”

The opener comes Friday night against the defending champion Georgia Swarm at the Mohegan Sun Arena (7:30 p.m.).

Evans is starting his third full season with the Black Wolves having already made a major impression. He scored 50 goals in 2016 and 38 last year. Evans’ assistance has been even greater: He has totaled 133 assists in his two years at the front of the attack.

He is the only player in lacrosse history to win the Minto Cup as a junior; the Mann Cup, as a senior player; and the NLL champions cup within a calendar year. He also won back-to-back junior Minto Cups a decade ago when he was starting his career.

Now he juggles professional indoor lacrosse with multiple jobs. Evans is teaching the game in his native Canada while helping to raise a 9-year-old daughter who is playing ice hockey and a pair of 3-year-old twins. A fourth child is on the way for the Peterborough, Ontario resident.

“What’s a typical week like? I’m teaching lacrosse at elementary schools, trying to help grow the game every day, then I get home about four and it’s time to help with dinner, get the kids ready for bed. Come Thursday, I fly off to the weekend game and have to thank my wife [Kayla] for allowing me to do that. It’s been great to be able to keep playing.”

Because NLL teams are not like other North American organizations — NLL teams do not keep players together at a home team site — building team chemistry and confidence is important when the players do converge. The Black Wolves — most them at least — work together Tuesday nights in Toronto, then get together for breakfast on the Friday morning of games at the Sun Arena or on the road.

“That time together you have to make the most of,” Evans said. “We chat with each other during the week to try to stay close. It’s a short season so when we are together we have to focus and make the most it.”

Evans is excited about the way lacrosse is growing, “especially in the States.

“More people are seeing box lacrosse, finding out how exciting and fast it can be. I’ve played in front of sellouts in Buffalo where it was electrifying, the fans right on top of you. Colorado has 16,000 screaming fans and Saskatoon has had 12 straight sellouts. It’s crazy how the game is catching on.”

The Black Wolves can’t put more than their 7,000-capacity Sun Arena for lacrosse, but that crowd can be loud, Evans says.

“It’s great how our fan base has grown, from maybe 1,400 when I first came here to a sell-out opening night a year ago,” he said. “I love the support we have been getting.”

Opening against the Georgia Swarm will “not be an easy task,” Evans said. “They were a tough team last season and most of their guys are back. We will have to stick to our game plan against them.”

The Black Wolves play three games before the New Year, with a challenging trip to Saskatchewan on December 23 and a December 29 home contest against Vancouver following the opening night.

For Evans, who played 80 games last year between the NLL and summer Canadian leagues, it’s the start of what he hopes will be a special year.

“If you are winning games, you’re having fun.”


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