TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) are back on the road in search of their third straight win tonight as they make their way to New York’s Capital Region for an intrastate showdown against the Eastern Conference rival Albany FireWolves (1-0) at MVP Arena. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
As the Knighthawks look to push their win streak to three straight games to begin the young season, they do so also seeking their third straight win over Albany after sweeping the two-game series during the 2021-22 campaign. Rochester had two of its best offensive showings last season against Albany, outscoring the FireWolves 31-20, including a dominating 16-7 win in its last visit almost a year ago to the day. Holden Cattoni (4+5) paved the way for the Knighthawks offense with a team-high nine-point effort with four goals and five assists, while then-rookie forward Ryan Smith (3+2) had his first multi-goal effort in the NLL while adding two assists. The win remains the largest in franchise history for the Knighthawks. Following tonight’s matchup, the teams are idle until Albany makes its lone visit of the season to Rochester for one final get-together at Segar & Sciortino Field at Blue Cross Arena on April 8.
HASEN BACK AT THE HELM
Leading the Knighthawks into their third season of the expansion-era is an all-too-familiar face in head coach Mike Hasen. 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 89 career wins, including four last season, Hasen remains on pace to become just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins. Joining Hasen, who is also a four-time Mann Cup winner as head coach of the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, and assistant coach Pat O’Toole for this season is Gavin Prout, who replaces Mat Giles as the team’s offensive coach. Arguably one of the biggest names in the sport of lacrosse, Prout has won at all levels of competition as both a player and a coach. His distinguished resume includes league championships in the National Lacrosse League (2006) and Major League Lacrosse (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009) as well as a Mann Cup in 2000 and pair of Minto Cups in 1997 and 1999. Internationally, he’s also a five-time medal winner with Team Canada, including three gold medals. Most recently, the Whitby, Ontario, native won his first medal as a coach after leading Canada to a gold medal finish at the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championship, held at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg this past August. Canada went undefeated during the event, outscoring the opposition 47-17 before defeating Haudenosaunee 16-9 in the championship game.
LAST TIME OUT
For the first-time ever, the Knighthawks enter the week atop the Eastern Conference standings after beginning the season 2-0 following an 11-7 win over the Toronto Rock in their home opener last week. Connors Fields and Thomas Hoggarth each scored four goals while Rylan Hartley made a career-high 50 saves in leading Rochester to its second straight victory, marking the first time in franchise history the team opened the season with back-to-back wins. It was also Rochester’s first-ever win over Toronto in five meetings between the two teams. In addition to scoring four goals for the second straight game, Fields, who was named the NLL Player of the Week following a 10-point performance in the season-opening win at Georgia, also added three assists for a team-high seven points after factoring in on six of the Knighthawks’ seven goals. Highlighting Hoggarth’s four-goal night was a natural hat trick in the first quarter with all three goals coming in a span of 3:12 during a four-goal run for Rochester. The sixth-year pro finished a goal shy of tying a single-game record for himself and the franchise, which he set on March 12 of last season against the New York Riptide. Hartley was again brilliant in net with a 50-save effort, including all 16 he faced during a perfect fourth-quarter performance in keeping Toronto off the board. Until this season, the second-year netminder has ever won back-to-back starts in his pro career.
FIELDS TAKING FLIGHT
Following another impressive performance in Saturday’s win over Toronto, Fields enters the weekend leading the NLL in scoring with 17 points while ranking second in goals (8) and third in assists (9). 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 32 of his 34 career NLL games.
HARTLEY HEADLINES WEEK 2
For the second straight week, a Knighthawk took home NLL Player of the Week honors after goaltender Rylan Hartley was named the top performer for Week 2. He joins forwards Connor Fields and Austin Hasen as the team’s award winners so far this season with Fields earning the nod in Week 1 and Hasen being recognized as the league’s top rookie for his two-goal effort in his professional debut at Georgia on Dec. 3. Hartley was magnificent from start to finish in Rochester’s win over the Toronto Rock, finishing with 50 saves while limiting the six-time NLL champions to just seven goals on the night. Hartley’s 50-save performance bested his previous career-high mark of 49 he set last season and came within one of tying the franchise’s single-game record of 51, originally set by Steve Fryer on Jan. 19 against Philadelphia during the team’s inaugural 2019-20 campaign. Hartley enters the weekend tied for the league lead in wins (2) and currently paces all NLL netminders with 96 saves through his first two games of the season.
HOMECOMING FOR FIELDS
Rochester’s lone trip to Albany serves as an unofficial homecoming for Knighthawks forward Connor Fields, who prior to turning pro, played his collegiate lacrosse at the University at Albany. A four-time All-American and a Tewaaraton Award nominee in each of his final three seasons, Fields amassed an astonishing 364 points (199+165) in 69 career games for the Great Danes, becoming one of the top scorers in Division I. As a senior, Fields ranked sixth in the nation in points per game (5.38) and assists per game (3.25) en route to earning America East Offensive Player of the Year and America East All-Conference First Team honors for the second straight year. He also led the Great Danes to their first-ever appearance in the Final Four, ultimately falling to Yale before being named to the All-Tournament Team for the second consecutive season. Fields became just the fourth player in program history to be named a finalist for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, presented annually to the most outstanding men’s and women’s American college lacrosse players, following his junior season when he posted career-highs in assists (62) and points (117). He also led all Division I point-getters in points per game (6.5) while leading Albany to its third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. His breakout season came as a freshman in 2015 when he scored a single-season Division I record 66 goals in 19 games on his way to earning America East Rookie of the Year honors as well as a selection to the All-Rookie Team. Fields started and scored in every game during his rookie season, finishing first in the conference and second among all Division I players in goals per game (3.47) and eighth nationally in points per game (4.63). Fields’ 199 goals are most all-time at Albany while his 165 assists and 364 points are second in program history. He’s also second and fourth all-time in Division I history in points and goals.
SCOUTING THE FIREWOLVES
Like Rochester, the FireWolves return home after opening the season with a win on the road, surviving a late push by the defending Eastern Conference champion Buffalo Bandits and holding on for an 11-10 victory at KeyBank Center. Albany carried over a 9-5 lead into the fourth quarter only to see the Bandits go on a four-goal run to tie the contest at 9-9. The FireWolves retook the lead with back-to-back strikes from Kieran McArdle and Colton Watkinson before shutting down a final push from Buffalo in the closing minutes. Tanner Thomson led way offensively for Albany with six points on two goals and four assists while McArdle and Connor Kelly each had five points in the win. Veteran goaltender Doug Jamieson finished with 45 saves, including a dozen in the opening quarter while limiting the high-powered Bandits offense to a single goal. Following an offseason of change, the new-look FireWolves enter the 2022-23 campaign without their top five scorers from last season with arguably their biggest loss coming in the departure of leading point-getter Joe Resetarits, who agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Wings in August. The move reunites Resetarits, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, with Wings head coach and general manager Paul Day, who previously worked alongside Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen during his 15-year stint in Rochester. A native of Hamburg, NY, Resetarits led the league last season in goals (47) and ranked third in points (111) on his way to earning First Team All-League honors for the first time in his career and the first American player to make the list since 2010. He has recorded 246 goals and 328 assists for a total of 574 points in 161 career games played and is the only American-born player to ever record 100 points in a season, which he has done twice (2018 & 2022).
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks return home following the annual Christmas break on Saturday, Jan. 7 as Panther City Lacrosse Club makes its inaugural visit to Rochester. The 7 p.m. matchup from Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena will be only meeting of the season between the two teams and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.