TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) look for their second straight 3-0 start to the season tonight as they return home to host the Vancouver Warriors (1-1) for the only time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:00 start and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Saturday’s contest marks the lone meeting of the season between the two teams and just the second all-time after the Knighthawks dropped an 11-10 overtime decision to the Warriors in the only previous get-together during their inaugural campaign in 2019-20. Both teams are coming off wins in their previous matchups, which saw Rochester, whose coming off a bye week, remain unbeaten on the strength of 16-14 win at Saskatchewan while the Warriors evened their record to 1-1 on the season by way of a 15-7 triumph over the Georgia Swarm. Tonight’s matchup features the NLL’s second-best offense go up against the second-ranked defense as the Knighthawks, who are averaging 15 goals per game through their first two games of the season, face a Warriors team that is averaging only nine goals-against. Vancouver’s defense is anchored by veteran goaltender Aaron Bold, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization who spent two seasons in Rochester.
LAST TIME OUT
A record-setting 11-point effort from Connor Fields (4+7) and four power-play goals fueled Rochester to a 16-14 victory over the Saskatchewan Rush (0-2) on Dec. 9 at SaskTel Centre. It was the second come-from-behind win in as many weeks for the Knighthawks, who scored three straight unanswered goals in the final four minutes of regulation to overcome a one-goal deficit. Along with Fields turning in the most impressive performance of his career, Ryan Smith (3+3) aided the charge for the Knighthawks with another six-point outing on the strength of three goals and three assists, including the game-tying tally which sparked Rochester’s late three-goal run. Newcomer Ryan Lanchbury (2+2), acquired by Rochester earlier this month from the Georgia Swarm, made an immediate impact in his Knighthawks debut with a four-point performance, matching that of Turner Evans (0+4) and 2022 first overall pick Thomas McConvey (3+1). Austin Hasen (1+1) and Dan Coates (0+2) each had a pair of points for the Knighthawks, who remain one of only four unbeaten teams coming into this weekend.
FIELDS EARNS NLL WEEKLY HONORS FOR WEEK 2
It should come as no surprise that Fields would be named the NLL’s Gatorade Player of the Week for Week 2 in recognition of his dominant performance in Saskatchewan. Fields began his record-setting night by factoring in on five of his team’s seven goals in the first half, including a hat trick, before assisting on two of the team’s final three goals late in the fourth quarter. Fields would finish the night with 11 points (4+7), setting the new single-game franchise record, surpassing the 10 he set last season on multiple occasions.
HASEN ONE WIN AWAY FROM HISTORY
Leading the Knighthawks into their fourth season of the expansion-era is an all-too-familiar face in head coach Mike Hasen, who following his team’s Week 2 win in Saskatchewan is on the verge of history. With 99 career wins entering this weekend, including 10 last season, Hasen is one win away from becoming just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins. He surpassed legendary head coach Les Bartley for sixth all-time following the win over Halifax on Feb. 11 of last season, making him one of three finalists for the 2023 NLL Coach of the Year. Last season, 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 last season behind Georgia’s Ed Comeau and Calgary’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 Saskatchewan general manager 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, who would be named NLL Coach of the Year in 2011, 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.
Fields’ 11-point effort in the 16-14 win over the Rush wasn’t the only record-setting performance that night for the Knighthawks. Second-year face-off specialist Joe Post was unstoppable at the center dot, winning 24-of-31 face-off attempts for a 75.0% success rate while also recovering 17 loose balls. Post’s 24 face-off wins set the new single-game mark, far surpassing his own record of 19 he set in the 2022-23 regular-season finale against Philadelphia on April 29. Coming into the week, the Canandaigua native ranks third in the NLL with 43 face-off wins, trailing only Albany’s Joe Nardella and Las Vegas’ Zach Cole in that category, while his team-high 27 loose ball recoveries are fourth-most amongst league leaders. Dating back to his rookie season, Post, who played his collegiate lacrosse at nearby St. John Fisher University, has won 106-of-193 career face-off attempts, good for a 54.9% efficiency rate.
McCONVEY MAKING HIS MARK
After being held scoreless in Rochester’s season-opening win over Calgary earlier this month, rookie forward Thomas McConvey finally found his scoring touch in the Week 2 win at Saskatchewan with a goal in each of the final three quarters for his first professional hat trick. McConvey, who Rochester selected first overall in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft, converted once on the power-play and also added an assist to cap a four-point night. The highly touted forward, one of eight to make Rochester’s season-opening roster, signed a multi-year deal with the Knighthawks after being named the nation’s top midfielder this past season as a fifth-year graduate student at the University of Virginia. He was also one of three Cavaliers players to be named a USILA First Team All-American in 2023. McConvey, who carried a 52-game point streak into his graduate season at Virginia, the longest in the nation, started all 17 games for the Cavaliers, scoring 28 goals and adding 24 assists for 52 points. Prior to joining Virginia, McConvey played four years at the University of Vermont, where he was a three-time USILA and Inside Lacrosse All-American. One of the most decorated players in program history, the Toronto, Ontario, native assembled one of the most dominant offensive performances as a senior in 2022, setting a program-record with 60 goals, becoming the first player in school history to score more than 50 in a season. He also added 14 assists for a career-high 74 points while starting in all 19 games for the Catamounts, earning him America East Offensive Player of the Year and ECAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. McConvey is just the second player in Vermont history to be tabbed the top player by America East. He also scored 12 goals in the America East championship on his way to being named the Most Outstanding Player during Vermont’s run to its second straight conference championship. In 52 career games with Vermont, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound midfielder totaled 174 points (127+47), finishing seventh all-time in scoring in program history. He recorded at least one point in every game over his four-year career, including a hat trick in eight straight games during his final season. A two-time America East All-Conference First Team selection (2021-22) and a two-time All-New England First Team selection (2021-22), McConvey was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team following a productive 32-point campaign as a freshman.
HAVE A FIELD DAY
With 17 points through his first two games of the season, Fields has picked up right where he left off a year ago. Entering this weekend, Fields, who was originally a first-round pick (10th overall) of the San Diego Seals in 2018, is only three points back of Albany’s Alex Simmons for the NLL scoring lead while his eight goals are tied for fourth-most. Coming off his second straight four-goal effort to begin the 2023-24 campaign, the East Amherst native has scored two or more goals in 19 straight games dating back to last season. Fields, who last season became just the third American-born player to top the 100-point mark, has led the team in scoring in 16 of his last 19 outings and has recorded at least one point in 49 of his 51 career NLL games.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS
Vancouver comes into the matchup on the heels of a convincing 15-7 win over the Georgia Swarm last Saturday at Rogers Arena. The Warriors jumped out to a 4-1 first-quarter lead and never looked back, outscoring the Swarm 11-4 in the second half to claim their first win of the young season. Ryan Martel led the way offensively with a nine-point (4+5) effort while Adam Charalambides, Kevin Crowley and Keegan Ball all chipped in seven points behind a 35-save performance from veteran goaltender Aaron Bold. Along with Martel, whose 12 points tie him for 16th in the league in scoring, Vancouver owns one of the NLL’s top scoring defenseman in Matt Beers. A veteran of 195 career NLL games, Beers, who’s in his second stint with the Warriors following two seasons with the Rush, ranks sixth in scoring amongst all league defensemen while his three assists trail only Rochester’s Dan Coates. A former Knighthhawk in the previous organization, Bold is tied for second among all NLL netminders with a 9.00 goals-against and boasts a .786 save percentage through two appearances this season.