TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (9-5) usher in the final month of the regular season tonight looking to halt a two-game skid as they clash with the Philadelphia Wings (6-8) for the second time in three weeks at Wells Fargo Center. The 6:00 p.m. matchup will be the second of three meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+ and TSN+.
|TEAM ROSTERS||GAME NOTES|
|2022-23 NLL STATS PACK||2022-23 NLL STANDINGS|
|2022-23 WINGS STATS||2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
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SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
The Knighthawks are still seeking their first win franchise history over the Wings, who narrowly came away with a 9-8 overtime win in the previous meeting between the two teams back on March 19 in Rochester. The Knighthawks fought their way back from a 6-3 deficit but a late three-goal run by Philadelphia capped by the game-winner from Rochester native Blaze Riorden ultimately proved to be the difference. Tonight’s matchup will again feature three of the league’s top six point-getters in Mitch Jones and Joe Resetarits of the Wings and Connor Fields of the Knighthawks. Jones, who came over to Philadelphia in a midseason trade from Vancouver, ranks third in the NLL in overall scoring with 98 points in (33+65) in 15 games while Resetarits, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, ranks sixth with 86 points (21+54). Fields, whose been Rochester’s leading scorer all season, has a one-point lead on Resetarits for fifth in league scoring despite playing one less game.
WIN AND IN
A win tonight would not only give Rochester its first in franchise history over the Wings but would also clinch the Knighthawks their first-ever playoff berth. The Knighthawks can potentially join the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock as the only three Eastern Conference teams to punch their ticket to the postseason. The 2023 NLL Playoffs format will again feature the top four teams from the East Conference and top three from the West Conference, plus a “wild card” entry with the best record between the fourth-place team in the West standings and the fifth-place finisher in the East. This “wild card” will play in the West Conference side of the bracket as the fourth seed. The postseason is slated to begin the weekend of May 5-7.
HASEN JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen joined elite company this past Saturday 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 Philadelphia’s 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 climbed within one goal on two separate occasions but were unable to completely close the gap as they dropped their inaugural meeting with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs last Saturday at Michelob ULTRA Arena. Connor Fields paced the Knighthawks offense, factoring in on five of Rochester’s seven goals. The forward scored a pair of goals to go with three assists to lead the team in scoring for the 11th time in his last 13 games, while also recording his 200th professional point along the way. He also tallied his 13th consecutive multi-goal game and has recorded at least one point in 43 of his 45 games of his NLL career, dating back to his rookie season in 2019-20. Ryan Smith (2+2) added two goals and a pair assists while Parker Pipher (2+1) finished with a three-point effort in his NLL debut. Holden Cattoni (1+3) and Turner Evans (0+2) both posted multi-point efforts while Austin Hasen and Thomas Hoggarth each notched one assist. Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (9-5) made his 14th consecutive start between the pipes, stopping 29 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 12 of their first 14 games, which includes 11 of the last 12 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 boasts a near-perfect 6-2 record 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 152 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 13th straight multi-goal effort to begin the season, Fields enters the weekend ranked second in the NLL in goals (42), trailing only New York’s Jeff Teat in that category, and fifth in points (87) despite missing one game. By averaging nearly seven points per game through his first 13 games of the season, highlighted by four straight weeks of four-goal efforts, Fields is well on pace to reach the 100-point mark for the first time in his pro career. 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 11 of his 13 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 43 of his 45 career NLL games, including at least two points in all 13 games so far this season.
HART AND SOUL
Third-year goaltender Rylan Hartley has been a mainstay between the pipes for the Knighthawks and the catalyst to Rochester’s 9-5 start to the season. Hartley, who has started all 14 games for Rochester, ranks second among all NLL netminders in saves (579) and is fourth in wins (9) and minutes (839). He also anchors a Knighthawks defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest goals-against per game (11.57) 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).
SCOUTING THE WINGS
Philadelphia, playing its second straight game at home, comes into the matchup having dropped two of its last three following a 14-10 loss to Halifax last Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. The Wings were outscored 8-4 in the opening half and were never able to recover despite a team-high seven-point effort from Mitch Jones and a four-goal outing from Ben McIntosh. Then offensive duo of Jones and Resetarits having combined for 65 goals and 184 points while both remain on pace to the reach 100-point mark by season’s end. Jones also ranks second in the league with a team-high 65 assists. Resetarits spent five seasons with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2015-19, during which he recorded 279 points over 78 career games. He capped off his final full season in 2017-18 in historic fashion, establishing career-highs in goals (37), assists (63) and points (100), becoming the first American-born player to log a 100-point season in league history. Veteran goaltender Zach Higgins has played virtually every minute this season for the Wings. He boasts a 6-6 record and is tied for fourth in the NLL with 532 saves.