TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
One of the fiercest rivalries in the National Lacrosse League will finally be restored tonight as the Rochester Knighthawks (1-5) and Buffalo Bandits (4-1) clash in a North Division showdown at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be the first of three scheduled meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and can be heard live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as B/R Live.
LAST TIME OUT
A night after celebrating the franchise’s historic first win, the Knighthawks were unable to duplicate the effort 24 hours later at Wells Fargo Center, where the Philadelphia Wings scored seven power-play goals on their way to a 12-4 win in the weekend finale between the two teams. It would mark the second time this season Rochester was held to just four goals. As has been the case all season, Holden Cattoni led the Knighthawks with a four-point night (1+3) and once again opened the scoring for Rochester with his seventh goal in just the last three contests. Shawn Evans also notched a multi-point effort with a goal and an assist that puts him just three assists away from tying former teammate John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in NLL history. Curtis Knight (1+0) continued his success from the night prior by adding another goal to his season total, while Phil Caputo (1+1) found the back of the net for the sixth consecutive game. Steve Fryer (0-2) made the start in the crease making 51 saves on the 63 shots he faced. In the fourth quarter, rookie Rylan Hartley made his season debut, totaling 4:53 on the floor while turning aside all three shots he faced.
KNIGHTHAWKS TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
Cattoni, who’s averaging exactly five points per game through his first six games of the season, has moved inside the NLL’s top 10 point-getters after becoming the first Knighthawk this season to reach the 30-point mark in the team’s previous matchup against Philadelphia. He continues to lead the team in goals (10), assists (20) and points (30) as well as power-play assists (5) and overall shots (92). The fourth-year pro comes into the weekend just seven points off the NLL scoring race and is currently tied for eighth in the league in assists. Cattoni is on pace to shatter his career-high 80-point campaign which he set last season as a member of the Georgia Swarm. Evans, meanwhile, remains at a close second with 26 points on eight goals and eight assists in addition to a team-high 22 penalty minutes. Ryland Rees, Rochester’s second overall pick in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft who scored his first two pro goals in the 13-12 win over Calgary back on Jan. 18, ranks fifth among all transition players with a team-high 42 loose balls. Rookie forward Dan Michel is tied 10th among all first-year players with six points (3+3) despite only appearing in four games this season and Wende’s 151 saves are 13th-most in the NLL.
EVANS JOINS ELITE COMPANY
With his nine-point effort back on Jan. 11 in Toronto, Evans, who spent last in Buffalo, became just the sixth player in NLL history to reach 1,200 career points. It didn’t take him long either as the 15th-year pro recorded a point on each of Rochester’s first six goals of the contest, including the primary assist on all three first-quarter scores. Evans notched his 1,200th point with a goal just 53 seconds into the second quarter and now trails only the likes of John Tavares, Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson, Colin Doyle and John Grant, Jr. for the most points all-time in league history.
SCOUTING THE BANDITS
The Bandits come into the matchup riding a season-long three-game win streak following a 13-12 road win over the Colorado Mammoth this past Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Josh Byrne had arguably his best performance of the season, exploding for seven goals, including four in the first half alone, as part of a team-high eight-point night for the Bandits, who remain in second place in the NLL’s North Division standings. Byrne’s seven-goal outing gives him 17 goals on the season, putting him one off the league lead behind only Georgia’s Shayne Jackson. More impressively, Byrne, now in his third season with Buffalo, has scored all but two of his team-leading 17 goals at even strength and is already within nine goals of tying his career-high of 26 from his rookie campaign in 13 fewer games. In net for the Bandits is an all-too-familiar name in veteran goaltender Matt Vinc, who last season backstopped Buffalo to an appearance in the NLL Finals. Vinc, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization who helped Rochester win an unprecedented three straight league championships from 2012-14, is currently tied for third in the NLL in wins (4) and ranks eighth in saves (209). The veteran netminder remains the only player in league history to earn Goaltender of the Year honors six different times. Five of those selections came with Rochester, including three straight in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
- Shawn Evans is three assists away from tying former teammate John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in NLL history. He also needs 12 more goals for 450 in his career.
- Curtis Knight needs just six assists for 200 in his career.
- Knighthawks forward Turner Evans appeared in his 50th pro game against Philadelphia on Jan. 19.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks return home on Sunday, Feb. 9 when they take on the Vancouver Warriors in a midday matinee from Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 2:00 p.m. matchup will be the only meeting of the season between the two teams and can be heard live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as B/R Live. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest Knighthawks news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.