It’s no secret that the Rochester Knighthawks are exceeding everyone’s expectations in the National Lacrosse League right now. After finishing just 4-14 last season to being one of only two unbeaten teams with a perfect 4-0 start to this season, Rochester’s transformation from worst to first has been nothing short of amazing.
By winning their fourth straight on Saturday over the Panther City Lacrosse Club, the Knighthawks have now tied a franchise record for wins in a season and their 17 goals were the most scored in a single game in their three-year history. More impressively, all of it was done without their leading goal-scorer and the former NLL’s leading point-getter, Connor Fields, even in the lineup.
“We had a lot of different players step up,” started Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey when asked where the offensive production stemmed from this weekend. “Holden Cattoni, Thomas Hogarth, Curtis Knight, Ryan Smith – I think those four guys led our offense and, again, the wealth was shared. I think there’s a lot of guys that contributed on the scoresheet and it was good to do that without our leading scorer.”
Holden Cattoni and Thomas Hoggarth both turned in a seven-point effort with four goals and three assists apiece, while assistant captain Curtis Knight also totaled seven points as he scored once while adding a team-high six assists. Second-year pro Ryan Smith recorded a hat trick while Matt Gilray also produced a multi-goal outing with two markers. Turner Evans, Austin Hasen, and Ryland Rees rounded out the scoring, each adding a goal on the night.
The first quarter of Saturday’s 17-9 win was the embodiment of a true team effort for the Knighthawks, who stormed out to a 5-2 lead on the strength of five different goal-scorers and five players recording multi-point efforts in the opening frame. However, it was even more impressive that going into the half the Knighthawks now had eight different goal-scorers on the stat sheet.
A nice pass from Smith and a wicked shot from Cattoni for his first of the game on Saturday!
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) January 9, 2023
Further proving just how much offensive depth this Knighthawks roster has this season.
“That’s our main goal, is to have that type of depth,” said Carey when asked about depth helping alleviate pressure on certain players and what’s expected from them. “If we have one player that that isn’t able to play, or is injured, or just isn’t on that night and not contributing as they would expect to be, we have other guys to step up.”
While, yes, the Knighthawks are having the best start possible to the 2022-23 campaign, the biggest takeaway from Saturday night is the fact that Rochester is good to go no matter who is in or out of the lineup. Anyone is able to step up on any given night and that’s something Carey has been working towards since 2019.
“That’s what we’re building towards is having the type of depth that if you’re missing a few players in the lineup, other guys are able to contribute and chip in and, again, a full team effort is what we need to win in this league.”
“It showed that guys are able to step up and contribute in the absence of another player that has been having success early on in the year.”