TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (9-7) resume their push to the postseason tonight following the bye week as they go up against arguably the hottest team in the National Lacrosse League in the Georgia Swarm at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the third and final meeting between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.
|TEAM ROSTERS||GAME NOTES|
|2022-23 NLL STATS PACK||2022-23 NLL STANDINGS|
|2022-23 SWARM STATS||2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|WATCH ON ESPN+||LISTEN LIVE ON BIG 107.3 FM|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
A win tonight for the Knighthawks would not only snap their current season-long four-game skid, but would also complete the season sweep over the Swarm. Rochester claimed both previous meetings in Georgia, including a 19-18 victory back on March 12 in what was the highest scoring game in the league this season. Tonight’s matchup again features a tale of two very different teams who began the season on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings and are now within one game of each other. After opening the season with a franchise-best six straight wins and being the only team to remain unbeaten at home until March 19, the Knighthawks have lost four straight and five of their last six with their only win in that span coming against Georgia. The Swarm, meanwhile, have underwent a massive midseason transformation, going from a team that was winless through its first seven games of the season to having gone 8-1 in their last nine games, a stretch highlighted by an unprecedented six straight wins. Georgia’s only loss in that span was the 19-18 setback to Rochester last month.
WIN AND IN
A win tonight for the Knighthawks would clinch their first-ever playoff berth. Rochester can potentially join the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock as the only three Eastern Conference teams to punch their ticket to the postseason. Should the Knighthawks lose, however, the team still has an opportunity to clinch this weekend by way of a Halifax loss to New York and a Philadelphia loss against Albany. 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 will begin the weekend of May 5-7.
HASEN JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen joined elite company back 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 managed to pull within a goal twice against the Albany FireWolves on April 8, but ultimately could not overcome an early three-goal deficit despite another 10-point performance by Connor Fields (2+8) in a 14-12 loss at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss was the Knighthawks’ fourth straight and fifth in the last six games but just the second at home. The teams split the season series after Rochester earned a 14-13 victory in the previous get-together back on Dec. 17 at MVP Arena. Fields paced the Knighthawks offense, factoring in on 10 of Rochester’s 12 goals, including a run of seven straight. The forward scored a pair of goals to go with eight assists to lead the team for the 13th time in his last 15 games. Fields became the first player in franchise history and only the third American-born player in NLL history to record 100 points in a season. Even more impressively, Fields reached the century mark on what was his 100th career goal.
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 14 of their first 16 games, which includes 13 of the last 14 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 6-4 this season when outshooting the opponent and are 3-2 when being outshot. They’re also 0-1 when shots are tied. Fields currently ranks fourth in the league with a team-high 178 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 in 2022-23. By posting his third 10-point performance of the year two weeks ago against Albany, Fields became just the fifth player this season and only the third American-born player in NLL history to record 100 points in a season, a feat previously accomplished twice by Philadelphia’s Joe Resetarits, a former Knighthawks in the previous organization, in 2018 and 2022 as well as Toronto’s Tom Schreiber this season. By averaging nearly seven points per game through his first 15 games of the season, highlighted by four straight weeks of four-goal efforts, Fields is also closing in on his first 50-goal campaign. 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. Following his 15th straight multi-goal effort to begin the season, Fields enters the weekend ranked second in the NLL in goals (48), trailing only New York’s Jeff Teat in that category, and sixth in points (103) despite missing one game. With two 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 13 of his 15 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 45 of his 47 career NLL games. Furthermore, Fields leads all NLL forwards with 121 loose ball recoveries, and should he reach 130, he will be first player since Athan Iannucci in 2008 to record more than 100 points and 130 loose balls in the same season. The only other player in league history to reach both of those marks in a single season was John Tavares.
HART AND SOUL
Third-year goaltender Rylan Hartley has been a mainstay between the pipes for the Knighthawks and the catalyst to Rochester’s 9-7 start to the season. Hartley, who has started all 16 games for Rochester, currently ranks second among all NLL netminders in minutes (963), third in saves (654) and is tied for fifth in wins (9). He also anchors a Knighthawks defense that has allowed the ninth-best goals-against per game (11.88) 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 seven 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.
SCOUTING THE SWARM
Georgia’s 19-18 loss to Rochester last month sparked perhaps one of the most impressive midseason turnarounds for a team that began the season with seven straight losses to one that is now in playoff contention following six straight wins. The Swarm, who are averaging nearly 14 goals per game over their current win streak, make their lone trip to Rochester fueled by the high-scoring trio of Andrew Kew, Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson, who have combined for 115 goals, 175 assists and 290 points through all 16 games this season. Kew leads all Georgia players in every offensive category and is fifth in the NLL amongst all players in both goals (43) and points (106). The forward is tied for fifth in the league with 63 assists and leads all players with 13 power-play tallies. Thompson, a former NLL champion and league MVP, is tied for sixth in the league with 42 goals and ranks eighth in points (98). He is two points away from reaching the century mark for the second straight year and fourth time in his career. Jackson has produced career-highs in both assists (56) and points (86).