Week 9 in the National Lacrosse League ended with the Rochester Knighthawks suffering their first loss of the 2022-23 campaign. There’s some good, however, that came out of the 17-7 loss to the Halifax Thunderbirds on Friday night.
The Knighthawks learned that they need to reset back to their blue-collar mentality, forward Holden Cattoni continues to produce offensively and Rochester looks to get back on track in Bandit-land this weekend.
We take a look at it all with Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey in this week’s edition of Hawk Talk.
LEARNING FROM A LOSS
Despite the defeat against the Thunderbirds, Rochester’s first of the 2022-23 season after starting the campaign 6-0, the Knighthawks remain in first place in the NLL’s Eastern Conference standings with a 6-1 record through the first seven contests.
“We got outworked,” started Carey when asked about Rochester’s first loss on the year. “It was one of those games where I feel like we had some confidence going in and it felt a little bit different, to be honest, than the previous games that we had played. So, I think it brings us back to that blue-collar mentality that we’ve had to have.”
A series of multi-goal runs proved to be the difference Friday night at Scotiabank Centre, where the Knighthawks suffered a 17-7 loss to Halifax in the first of two meetings between the two teams. Carey feels the boys worked hard, but not hard enough to keep up with the blue-collar mentality that the Knighthawks have been bringing to the floor all year.
“I think our guys worked hard, but I don’t think we worked hard enough. It’s not something that’s typical of us and not something we’d expect. It does happen,” continued Carey when discussing Friday’s game. “They (Halifax) had a tough team that was ready to go, and I thought they played well. So, credit to them, but definitely a learning experience to kind of get back to that blue-collar mentality that we’ve had all year.”
CATTONI CONTINUING HIS OFFENSIVE SURGE
This past weekend, Cattoni posted his fourth hat trick in seven games.
“He’s (Cattoni) been shooting the ball very well and that’s something we kind of expect from him,” explained Carey when asked how Cattoni can continue this offensive trajectory going into this weekend’s matchup. “So, he’s (Cattoni) been doing a lot of little things well and he’s got an amazing shot from the outside, but he’s also been working on other assets of his game as well.”
Cattoni currently leads the Knighthawks with 79 shots on goal while his 17 goals and 35 points rank second. Cattoni’s offensive output isn’t surprising considering he was the team’s Offensive Player of the Year in Rochester’s inaugural campaign in 2019-20.
Carey says that Cattoni just has the right guys around him that are allowing him to flourish offensively while doing the little things extremely well away from the ball.
Hat trick #4 for Holden Cattoni so far this season 👀 pic.twitter.com/Fo3iXEKR26
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) January 30, 2023
“Having other guys around him that we all trust and have been contributing throughout the year has definitely elevated his production,” said Carey. “He’s been shooting the ball well and he’s doing a lot of little things that might not be showing up on the scoreboard that we are noticing as well.”
USING BANDIT-LAND AS AN ADVANTAGE
It’s no secret that the Knighthawks are in for a loud crowd this Saturday night as they take on the Buffalo Bandits at KeyBank Center.
“There’s a way to feed off of it as a home crowd, but there’s also a way to feed off of it when you’re the opposing team,” explained Carey when asked how Rochester can take advantage of the environment that awaits them Saturday in Buffalo.
For the first time in franchise history, the Knighthawks are looking to take a two-game sweep over the Bandits this season. Carey is hoping that Rochester can silence the crowd at KeyBank Center with how well the Knighthawks hope to play.
Carey then finished with, “I think when a building like that is quiet, it means you’re doing things well. So that’s something that you can kind of build off of is finding a way to quiet them as much as possible. They have a great team to cheer for, so we got to be at our best.”
The Knighthawks continue their two-game road swing as they take on the Bandits for a 7:30 p.m. face-off this Saturday, Feb. 4 at KeyBank Center. The 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+.