Goaltender Craig Wende kicked off his second season in the NLL facing off against his former team while repping a new one right here in the Flower City with the Rochester Knighthawks. Wende was one of three goaltenders that remained on the Knighthawks active roster throughout the entirety of the season, giving the club plenty of options with their versatile rotation that they could put in the crease. Being that Wende had only appeared in one game with the Georgia Swarm prior to the 2019-20 season, it should come as no surprise that his first year in Rochester was filled with many moments to remember. From his first NLL start, to notching his first win against the defending champs, let’s take a look at Wende’s top three moments from this past season.
1. STARTING IT OFF AGAINST THE SWARM
Now opening night for the Knighthawks’ inaugural season may not have gone in the Knighthawks’ favor as Rochester ushered in its first NLL season at home back on Nov. 30 against the Georgia Swarm.
This first game, unfortunately, led to the Knighthawks first loss of the year, but it was a first of many positives for those that saw time out on the floor. In particular, Wende got his first professional start in the crease, making 44 saves over the full 60 minutes against his former team that he saw just one appearance with back during the 2018-19 campaign.
2. BEATING THE DEFENDING CHAMPS
Back on Jan. 18, the Knighthawks battled back from a 12-11 deficit with two fourth-quarter goals and held on for the final seven minutes of regulation as they took down the defending NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks in thrilling fashion at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena for their first win in franchise history. The 13-12 victory also snapped Rochester’s four-game slide to begin the 2019-20 season.
Curtis Knight and Holden Cattoni each notched six points while Shawn Evans ended the night with five assists. Turner Evans also contributed four points while Ryland Rees and Thomas Whitty also found the back of the net for their first NLL goals. Wende, who got the start for the second straight week, was brilliant in net making 42 saves, including several big stops late in the fourth quarter, to pick up his first pro win.
3. HAIL MARY
This is one of those plays that you just can’t forget, especially when a goaltender gets an assist on a jaw-dropping floor-length pass.
Back on Jan. 11, it was another thrilling back-and-forth offensive battle between the Knighthawks and Toronto Rock that came down to the final minute with the Knighthawks ultimately coming up a goal short in a 13-12 loss to the Rock at Scotiabank Arena.
Holden Cattoni led the offensive charge for the Knighthawks, notching his fourth five-goal game in his professional career, while also adding four assists for a career-high nine-point night. Shawn Evans matched Cattoni with a nine-point effort of his own to become just the sixth player in NLL history to reach 1,200 career points. The two-time NLL MVP factored in on each of Rochester’s first six goals of the night, including scoring off a floor-length pass from Wende in the second quarter to put Rochester up 6-4 at that time.
Wende’s assist on Evans second quarter tally was one of two that he saw on the year.