Rochester Knighthawks General Manager and Vice President of Lacrosse Operations Dan Carey felt obligated to talk about a hot topic surrounding his team of late.
The Knighthawks began their season on Dec. 2 with two goaltenders. Just over a month has passed and that number has swelled to five.
On Dec. 15, the ‘Hawks signed NLL rookie netminder, Dylan Sprentz. On the 28th of that same month, Kevin Orleman was acquired in a trade with New York. Eight days later, experienced goaltender Doug Buchan joined the fray, making his way over from Buffalo.
What once was a traditional tandem has turned into a goaltending carousel. Carey heard the outside noise and felt it was important for not just his team, but the fans, to understand where things stand in-between the pipes.
“Rylan Hartley got injured a few weeks ago,” said Carey. “He’s a tremendous teammate and a guy we’ve believed in since day one and continue to believe in.”
Hartley was helped off the floor in the third quarter of Rochester’s home game against Vancouver on Dec. 23. He was placed on the injured reserve list following that game, and while there isn’t an exact timetable on a return for the fourth-year Knighthawk, Carey was at least able to provide some positive news.
“He’s progressing and he’s doing well. It’s always tough to see someone leave the floor as he did, but he’s being looked after. We’re checking in on him and he’s doing better. The health of our players is number one. He’s had a few concussions in his career, so we want to make sure we’re doing what’s right for him.”
The emphasis on health created a vacancy and need for depth in the goaltending position. Carey wants to ensure that if Hartley is able to return, he does so with the capability of being the go-to goaltender he’s been known for in Rochester. In the interim, the team has leaned heavily on longtime backup Riley Hutchcraft, who after going winless through his first five NLL seasons now has two victories on the 2023-24 season.
“Riley Hutchcraft has done a good job for us early on here. He’s helped us win those three games and played well enough for us to win that game in San Diego.”
“In order to make sure we have the players that we need, we’ve addressed that recently. We traded for Kevin Orleman and traded Steven Keogh to New York. That was something we knew that was more with long-term potential by acquiring someone who’s had a lot of success in the summer leagues and played some games in the NLL.”
The long-term vision for Orleman comes as a result of injury. The 27-year-old is expected to undergo surgery soon, limiting his opportunity in the short-term with the hope that he can be a part of Rochester’s future.
Sprentz, another recent acquisition, was a member of the Knighthawks’ training camp roster, but was later inked to a one-year contract in December. He has been assigned to the team’s practice squad for now.
“He’s willing to do whatever he needs to do to be a part of this. He was added as a back-up and has moved to the practice roster to make sure we do have another guy there.”
“Doug Buchan is a guy that has played for (Knighthawks head coach) Mike Hasen in the summer in Peterborough (Ontario). He has some familiarity with our guys and has had some significant minutes in the NLL. I had a great conversation with him and he’s excited to be here and be part of our great culture.”
Injuries are part of the game, and it hasn’t been exclusive to just the goaltenders. Between injured reserve and physically unable to perform lists, the ‘Hawks have eight bodies currently out of the picture. Some are progressing and may possibly be ready sooner than later, while others require more time to get back to full strength. Carey refers to each instance as a case-by-case basis, citing the team needs to address certain injuries differently. The situations are handled case-by-case, but the mission statement of addressing these scenarios is the same:
“It’s a lot of moving parts, but from our standpoint, making sure we have the right guys in the right position to have success and win games is a top priority.”