For just the second time in his seven-year career, Rochester Knighthawks defenseman Brad Gillies produced a hat trick on Saturday night against the New York Riptide. Not only did Gillies go on to reach a feat he’s only done one other time in his National Lacrosse League career, he did so in dramatic fashion with his third goal of the night on a breakaway in the final minute of overtime to help the Knighthawks prevail 11-10.
Outstanding, and quite frankly, thank goodness after the Saturday night affair became the second-longest game in NLL history.
“He was a guy that you could see that still had a lot of energy,” said Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey when asked about Gillies.
That energy was something that was desperately needed on both ends of the floor after 74:02 of play.
Especially after the teams traded chances in the extra period for the first 14 minutes, which featured several grade-A scoring opportunities and timely saves from each netminder before Gillies grabbed a loose ball out of midair in the defensive zone following a forced turnover caused by fellow defenseman Matt Bennett. The veteran defenseman sprinted down the field towards the Riptide cage before beating Orleman for the game-winning goal with 58 seconds left.
All three of Brad Gillies goals from Saturday 🤩 pic.twitter.com/ApzpT8Qmg1
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 1, 2023
“I kind of just tried to keep my stick up high and was trying to see what he (Riptide goaltender Steve Orleman) gave me as I was running down. So, I just tried to keep my stick up high and not let him kind of plays angles and then hope for the best,” explained Gillies when asked what was going through his mind as he was driving the eventual game-winner down the floor.
By 74th minute, Rochester’s defensive unit was more than thankful for Gillies completing a hat trick. On the defensive end, the Knighthawks were down to just eight guys who were going for almost every shift in the fourth quarter and extra frame, so you could say the Knighthawks 11th goal on the night was a little bit of relief.
“Big time. It was a grind,” laughed Gillies when asked if he thought, “Thank God,” after helping push the Knighthawks to their eighth win on the season and fifth straight at home. “We were down to eight guys in the defensive end, which is just tough. So, we were really going almost every shift for that overtime, and even fourth quarter (quarter), so it was a sigh of relief for sure.”
Ok, but we cannot stop watching this OT winner from last night 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Escc33lYcp
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) February 26, 2023
Not a bad night for a defensive player who’s second on the team in scoring among transition players with 12 points on six goals and six assists. It seems Gillies’ second professional hat trick came at the perfect time for the Knighthawks to come out with another massive win on the year.
“He (Gillies) does such a great job,” continued Carey when asked where the offense opened up for Gillies on Saturday. “He has a motor. That guy works out and trains really hard and you can tell, and we saw that at the end of a full overtime period.”
Gillies and the Knighthawks hit the road for a pair of contests beginning on Saturday, Mar. 4 at FirstOntario Centre against the red-hot Toronto Rock. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the second of two scheduled meetings between the two rivals this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.