TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (3-13) return home for their final two games of the 2021-22 regular season beginning tonight when they take on the reigning NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks (9-7) for the only time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Tonight’s matchup is a make-up game originally slated for Jan. 18 but was postponed due to league COVID-19 protocols affecting the Roughnecks. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as ESPN+.
|TEAM ROSTERS||GAME NOTES|
|2021-22 NLL STATS PACK||KNIGHTHAWKS PLAYER BIOS|
|2021-22 ROUGHNECKS STATS||2021-22 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|2021-22 NLL STANDINGS||LISTEN LIVE ON 107.3 FM THE BULL|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Tonight’s contest is the only meeting of the season between the two teams and the first get-together in over two years since the Knighthawks captured their historic first win in franchise history with a 13-12 victory over the defending NLL champions on Jan. 18, 2019. It was a back-and-forth affair for most of the matchup until Rochester took the lead in the final minutes of regulation and held on for the win. Tonight’s matchup truly is a tale of two teams as the Roughnecks, fresh off their 15-13 playoff-clinching win over Vancouver last week, are riding an NLL-best five-game win streak while the Knighthawks are amid a franchise-long eight-game skid following a 15-7 setback against the New York Riptide on Long Island this past Saturday. Both Rochester (3-1) and Calgary (5-1) have winning records when leading after the third quarter but are winless when trailing after three quarters. Both teams are also among the top nine in shooting, with the Knighthawks averaging nearly 51 shots per game through their first 16 games of the season. The Roughnecks are ninth in that regard, currently averaging 48.25 shots per game, which rank third-most among all Western Conference teams.
WATCH: TONIGHT’S FACE-OFF FIRST LOOK
LAST TIME OUT
The New York Riptide stormed out to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter and never looked back on their way to a 15-7 win over the Knighthawks in the final meeting of the season between the intrastate rivals this past Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Rochester’ offense was led by forwards Curtis Knight (2+2), Mike Burke (2+1) and Thomas Hoggarth (1+2), who combined for nine points (5+4). Ryan Smith (1+1), Holden Cattoni (0+2) and Turner Evans (0+2) all racked up two points on the night, while Ryland Rees (1+0) tallied a goal to complete the scoring. Goaltender Joel Watson (0-6) made his sixth straight start in the crease for the Knighthawks but suffered the loss as he made 26 saves. Netminder Lukas Coote (0-0) made his third appearance of the season with Rochester, facing six shots over 11:45 of relief effort.
KNIGHTHAWKS ROOKIES CONTINUE TO SOAR
As has been the case all season, the Knighthawks come into the weekend owning two of the NLL’s top scoring rookies in forwards Ryan Smith and Charlie Bertrand, who have combined for 85 points (41+44) in what has proven to be a rather seamless transition to the indoor game for both first-year players. Smith, Rochester’s third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, has taken his first NLL season by storm and has evolved into one of the league’s elite point-getters. After scoring his team-leading 29th goal of the season last weekend in New York, Smith comes into the matchup third among all first-year players in goals while his 52 points are also third-most behind only Jeff Teat of the Riptide and Patrick Dodds of Panther City. Smith, who became just the third rookie this season to reach the 50-point mark, is also sixth with 23 assists. Additionally, Smith, the most decorated player to come out of Robert Morris University, has the second-most power-play points among all league rookies with 15, which includes a team-high and franchise record eight power-play goals. Smith, who was named the NLL’s Rookie of the Week for the second time this season following his season-high nine-point performance in Week 14, has recorded multi-goal efforts in eight of his last 10 games and has five hat tricks over that span. His 129 shots are also second-most among rookies behind only Teat. Bertrand, meanwhile, has produced 33 points (12+21), good enough for ninth among all first-year players coming into the weekend. A three-time NCAA National Champion, which includes back-to-back titles at the University of Virginia, Bertrand has goals in five of his last seven appearances and has recorded at least one point in 15 games this season. He remains tied for the league lead among all rookies with two shorthanded goals while his 21 assists rank ninth-most in that category. He’s tied for 10th among all rookies with 12 goals.
REES HAVING A CAREER YEAR
The 2021-22 season has been a breakout year for second-year transition man Ryland Rees. The second overall pick in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, Rees has established career-highs in both goals (10) and points (13) while being one of just five Knighthawks to appear in all 16 games so far this season. Rees, who was named to the NLL’s All-Rookie Team in 2019, currently ranks 14th in scoring among all NLL transition players while his 10 goals are tied for seventh-most at his position.
KNIGHTHAWKS BOLSTER BACK END
Only three games remain in the season, but the Knighthawks bolstered their back end with the addition of defenseman Jake Pulver, who agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the remainder of the campaign. Pulver, 25, is new to the indoor game following four seasons in the Premier Lacrosse League, over which he recorded four points (1+3) and 66 groundballs in 31 career games with the Cannons, Chrome and Dallas Rattlers from 2018 to 2021. A native of Manlius, N.Y., Pulver played his collegiate lacrosse at Cornell University, where he was a three-time All-Ivy League defender, including a Unanimous First-Team selection in 2018, and was named a Third-Team USILA All-American as a senior during the 2018 season. In 42 career games with the Big Red, Pulver, a former high school All-CNY Player of the Year, recorded three points (1+2) and finished eighth in the program’s history with 38 caused turnovers, including 21 during his senior campaign. A two-time team captain, the 6-foot-0, 215-pound defenseman was also Cornell’s Senior CLASS Award winner for men’s lacrosse after leading the Big Red to an Ivy League Tournament championship and an appearance in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse quarterfinals in 2018. A four-year starter, Pulver also guided Cornell to an Ivy League title in 2015 as well as an NCAA National Tournament appearance later that same year. While attending Fayetteville-Manlius high school, Pulver was named a 2014 US Lacrosse All-American and was an Under Armour All America Underclassmen selection in 2013. As a senior in 2014, he helped Fayetteville-Manlius win the CNYCL League championship en route to earning All-CNY First-Team and All-CNY Player of the Year honors.
SCOUTING THE ROUGHNECKS
Calgary comes into the matchup as arguably one of the hottest teams in the NLL having won five straight and six of its last seven games to punch their ticket to the NLL postseason party. The Roughnecks, whose five straight wins marks the longest active streak in the league, becoming just the third team in the Western Conference behind Colorado and San Diego and just the fifth team overall to secure a playoff berth. In the team’s most recent win, a 15-13 win over Vancouver last weekend, leading point-getter Jesse King added to his point total with a six-point effort, including four goals, while Curtis Dickson added a team-high six assists to propel Calgary to its second straight road win over its current five-game run. The Roughnecks, playing their second straight game on the road, make their lone visit of the season fueled by the high-scoring tandem of King and Dickson, who have combined for 153 points (60+93) through Calgary’s first 16 of the season. King, who’s averaged more than five points per game for the Roughnecks, is fourth in the NLL with a team-high 60 assists and is eighth in the NLL in scoring among the league’s top point-getters with 86 points. Dickson’s team-high 34 goals are tied for ninth in the NLL. The veteran forward needs 10 more goals to pass Mark Steenhuis for eighth on the all-time list with 460. Veteran goaltender Christian Del Bianco has again been a mainstay for the Roughnecks having played virtually every minute and boasting a 9-7 record with a 10.79 goals-against average and a .778 save percentage. He comes into the weekend third among all NLL goaltenders in wins (9) and minutes played (950) while ranking fifth in saves (598). Calgary’s well-balanced offense also features one of the NLL’s top scoring defensemen in Zach Currier, whose 17 points are tied for 10th-most in the NLL. Currier also leads the league in forced turnovers (53) and loose balls (216). He needs just eight more turnovers to break the single-season record of 61, set by Kyle Rubisch set in 2014. First-year forward Tanner Cook is having a productive start to his NLL career with 38 points (11+27) while appearing in all 16 games this season. Coming into the weekend, he ranks fifth among all NLL rookies in assists (27) and seventh in points (38).
- Holden Cattoni recorded his 300th point as part of a two-point effort at New York on April 16.
- Jared Conners recorded his first point with an assist in his pro debut against Toronto on April 9.
- Mitch Ogilvie scored his first pro goal at Halifax on April 1.
- Curtis Knight recorded his 400th pro point with an assist at Halifax on April 1.
- Tyler Halls scored his first pro goal against New York on March 12.
- Thomas Hoggarth recorded his 100th pro point on his third goal of the night in the 15-12 loss against New York on March 12.
- Paul Dawson became the eighth player in NLL history to reach 500 penalty minutes on Feb. 5.
- Knighthawks forward Holden Cattoni played his first two seasons with the Roughnecks, who originally drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2016 NLL Entry Draft. He totaled 102 points (43+59) in 33 games.
- Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky played the first six seasons of his 11-year pro career with the former Knighthawks organization from 1998-2003. In 74 career games, he totaled 283 points (134+149) and led Rochester to three NLL Champion’s Cup Final appearances.
- Calgary defenseman Tyler Burton is a former Knighthawk in the previous franchise.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks close out the campaign on Saturday, April 30 when they host the first-ever visit from the Halifax Thunderbirds in the regular-season finale at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The Eastern Conference matchup gets underway at 7:00 p.m. and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as ESPN+. The contest will also be broadcast live locally on CW Rochester channel 16.