TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (9-6) begin a three-game homestand to close out the remainder of the 2022-23 regular season tonight when they host the intrastate rival Albany FireWolves (2-12) at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:00 p.m. contest will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+. The Eastern Conference matchup will also be televised live locally on CW Rochester.
|TEAM ROSTERS||GAME NOTES|
|2022-23 NLL STATS PACK||2022-23 NLL STANDINGS|
|2022-23 FIREWOLVES STATS||2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|WATCH ON ESPN+||LISTEN LIVE ON BIG 107.3 FM|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
As the Knighthawks look to halt the their current three-game skid, they do so also seeking their fourth straight win over Albany after claiming a 14-13 victory in the previous get-together with the FireWolves back on Dec. 17 at MVP Arena. The two teams went goal for goal for nearly the entire contest until Connor Fields’ fourth goal of the night with 4:05 remaining in regulation proved to be the difference as the Knighthawks held on for the win. After being outscored 8-5 in the opening half, Rochester shifted the momentum in its favor in the second, using a second-half surge while overcoming a pair four-goal deficits to outscore Albany 9-5 over the final 30 minutes. It was the third straight four-goal effort to begin the season for Fields, who played his collegiate lacrosse at the University at Albany. The matchup features two of the NLL’s top 10 scoring rookies in Albany’s John Piatelli and Rochester’s Austin Hasen. Piatelli ranks fourth in scoring among all first-year players with 30 points in 12 games while Hasen’s 19 points are eighth-most. Piatelli, Albany’s third-round pick in last year’s NLL Entry Draft, also ranks fourth and fifth among all NLL rookies in assists (17) and goals (13), respectively. The FireWolves come into the matchup with the worst-ranked power-play that has gone 21-for-61 for a 34.4% conversion rate. Conversely, the Knighthawks have the top penalty kill in the league after successfully killing off 29-of-46 shorthanded situations and only allowing a league-best 17 power-play goals against through the first 15 games of the season.
HASEN JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen joined elite company on March 25 in Las Vegas, where he was behind the bench for his 200th regular-season game, a feat only five others in league history have accomplished before him. He became just the sixth head coach – and third this season behind Georgia’s Ed Comeau and Vancouver’s Troy Cordingley – to have coached 200 National Lacrosse League games. Hasen also owns the distinction of being the only member of the prestigious group, which also includes Paul Day, Darris Kilgour and Derek Keenan, to reach the mark having spent his entire career in the same city. One of the most decorated coaches in league history, Hasen is certainly no stranger to Rochester, having previously served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2019. In nine seasons behind the bench with the original Knighthawks, Hasen guided Rochester to an 81-75 regular season record while leading the team to six playoff appearances. The Knighthawks also finished among the top two teams in the East Division six different times under Hasen, including each of the first five seasons (2011-2015). Hasen’s most successful run at the helm of the Knighthawks came from 2012-14 when he made National Lacrosse League history by leading Rochester to an unprecedented three straight Champion’s Cups. He remains the only NLL bench boss to accomplish the feat. With 96 career wins entering the weekend, including four last season, Hasen also remains on pace to become just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins. Hasen recently surpassed legendary head coach Les Bartley for sixth all-time following the win over Halifax on Feb. 11. Should Rochester win tonight, it will mark the first 10-win season in franchise history for the expansion-era Knighthawks and the first for a Hasen-led Knighthawks team since the 2017-18 campaign.
LAST TIME OUT
The Knighthawks erased a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime on Sunday night at Wells Fargo Center, but it was the Philadelphia Wings who prevailed with the 14-13 victory. The overtime loss was Rochester’s second of the season to the Wings after Philadelphia earned a 9-8 back win on Mar. 19 in the Flower City. The loss was the Knighthawks’ third straight and fourth in the last five games. Connor Fields (4+2), Holden Cattoni (2+4) and Ryan Smith (3+3) all finished with six-point nights, including another four-goal effort from Fields, who’s within seven points of reaching the 100-point mark for the first time in his pro career. He also tallied his 14th consecutive multi-goal game and has recorded at least one point in 44 of his 46 games of his NLL career, dating back to his rookie season in 2019-20. Smith notched his sixth hat trick of the season. Turner Evans (0+4) recorded a multi-assist game, his eighth of the season, while Parker Pipher (1+2) and Austin Hasen (1+2) each had three points. Ryland Rees (1+1), Curtis Knight (0+2), Matt Gilray (1+0) and Matthew Bennett (0+1) rounded out the scoring. Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (9-6) made his 15th consecutive start between the pipes, stopping 38 shots in the defeat.
CANANDAIGUA NATIVE JOINS KNIGHTHAWKS FOR PLAYOFF PUSH
Joining Rochester in its push to the playoffs is defenseman and face-off specialist Joe Post, who agreed to a one-year deal with his hometown Knighthawks for the remainder of the season. Post, who made his professional debut in the 19-18 win at Georgia on March 12, has gone 31-for-79 in three games at the center dot, good for a 39.2% success rate. It’s been trial by fire for Post, who in his first two games was forced to go up against arguably two of the league’s perennial face-off specialists in Jerome Thompson of Georgia and Trevor Baptiste of Philadelphia. A native of Canandaigua, Post is one of the most decorated players to come out of Division III St. John Fisher University in Rochester, where he was a two-time USILA All-America First Team selection and holds NCAA Division III all-time records for career face-off wins (1,250) and groundball recoveries (854). A four-time Empire 8 All-Conference honoree, he also owns the distinction of becoming just the second player in program history to be crowned Empire 8 Conference Player of the Year. In 78 career games with the Cardinals, Post scored 17 goals and added 10 assists for 27 points. He also won 1,250-of-1,755 face-off attempts, good for a. 704 winning percentage. He won more than 200 face-offs in four of his five seasons and topped the 300-mark twice, including 336 during his sophomore campaign, while helping Fisher to three straight NCAA National Championship tournament appearances.
Coming into this weekend, the Knighthawks have outshot the opposition in all but five games this season. The Knighthawks have topped the 50-shot mark in 13 of their first 15 games, which includes 12 of the last 13 dating back to Dec. 17 against Albany. Additionally, Rochester has surpassed the 60-shot mark on three different occasions, the most being 64 in the 14-13 triumph over the FireWolves prior to the Christmas break. Averaging more than 75 shots-per-game, Rochester is 6-3 this season when outshooting the opponent and are 3-2 when being outshot. They’re also 0-1 when shots are tied. Fields currently leads the team with 166 shots on goal and is one of four Knighthawks players with 100 or more shots on the season.
FIELDS SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS
As has been the case all season, Fields has consistently – and quite impressively – evolved into one of the NLL’s most elite offensive players this season. Following his 14th straight multi-goal effort to begin the season, Fields enters the weekend ranked second in the NLL in goals (46), trailing only New York’s Jeff Teat in that category, and fifth in points (93) despite missing one game. By averaging nearly seven points per game through his first 14 games of the season, highlighted by four straight weeks of four-goal efforts, Fields is closing on his first 50-goal and 100-point season of his career. He will become just the second American-born player in league history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Roy Colsey who reached the mark in 2001 with the New York Saints. Furthermore, Fields remains on pace to become just the third American player to record 100 points in a season, a feat previously accomplished twice by Philadelphia’s Joe Resetarits in 2018 and 2022 as well as Toronto’s Tom Schreiber this season. Fields, who’s also two goals away from 100 in his pro career, will be only the fifth player this season to reach the 100-point mark. With four games remaining in the regular season, he’s already set the single-season franchise marks for goals, points and assists, all of which came over three consecutive weeks, and has led the team in scoring in 12 of his 14 outings this season. Dating back to his rookie season in 2019-20, Fields, who was originally a first-round pick (10th overall) of the San Diego Seals in 2018, has recorded at least one point in 44 of his 46 career NLL games.
HART AND SOUL
Third-year goaltender Rylan Hartley has been a mainstay between the pipes for the Knighthawks and the catalyst to Rochester’s 9-6 start to the season. Hartley, who has started all 15 games for Rochester, currently leads all NLL netminders in saves (617), ranks second in minutes (903) and is tied for fourth in wins (9). He also anchors a Knighthawks defense that has allowed the eighth-fewest goals-against per game (11.73) this season and has kept the opposition to fewer than 10 goals on six different occasions. Hartley, who recently cracked the 1,000-save mark for his pro career, also established the single-game record for saves (55) as well as the single-season record for assists and points by a goaltender (3).
Three of Rochester’s last six games have gone to overtime, including the 11-10 win over New York on Feb. 25 that ended up being the second-longest game in NLL regular-season history with a duration of 74:02, falling 2:04 short of the league record just over 13 years ago to the day. The Boston Blazers and Orlando Titans played the longest game in league history on Feb. 20, 2010, with an elapsed time of 76:06. The Knighthawks are 1-2 this season in games decided beyond regulation and are 2-5 all-time in overtime dating back to their inaugural campaign.