TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (1-1) look to get back on the winning track tonight as they make their way east down the I-90 for an intrastate showdown with the Albany FireWolves at the Times Union Center. Game time is slated for a 7 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 FIRWOLVES 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 first of just two scheduled meetings between the two teams and the only get-together of the season in Albany. The matchup also marks the return of the National Lacrosse League to New York State’s capital region for the first time in nearly 19 years since the Albany Attack last called the Times Union Center home in 2003. The Attack joined the NLL in 2000 and spent four years in Albany prior to the franchise’s relocation to San Jose after the 2003 season. Following tonight’s matchup, the teams are idle until the FireWolves, who embark on their first season in Albany following six seasons as the New England Black Wolves, make their inaugural visit to Rochester later this season on Feb. 12.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite Curtis Knight (3+3) and Holden Cattoni (3+1) each turning in a hat trick for the Knighthawks, Rochester was unable to respond from a fourth-quarter surge by the rival Buffalo Bandits, who scored six times in the final frame on their way to a 12-8 win this past Saturday at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The intrastate rivals combined for four different lead changes, 20 goals and 110 shots. After being held without a goal in the season-opener against the New York Riptide, Knight had a team-high six-point performance, including a natural hat trick in a span of 8:20 in the second quarter, to bring Rochester back from a 3-0 deficit, while Cattoni, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year Cattoni, finished with his second straight hat trick to go with an assist. His third goal of the game marked the 100th of his pro career. Rookie forward Ryan Smith had a game-best four-assist night for his first NLL points of his career while fellow first-year player Charlie Bertrand turned in a three-point night (1+2). Shawn Evans (0+2) and Jeff Wittig (1+1) both had a pair of points in the defeat to complete the scoring. Goaltender Evan Kirk (1+1) earned his second straight start for the Knighthawks and the former NLL Goalie of the Year made 42 saves on 54 shots faced but suffered the loss. The duo of Cattoni and Evans remain the only two Knighthawks to record at least one point in all 14 of the franchise’s games dating back to the team’s inaugural 2019-20 campaign.
KNIGHTHAWKS ALREADY TAKING FLIGHT
Just two games into the 2021-22 season and several Knighthawks are already among the NLL scoring leaders heading into Week 3. Cattoni’s explosive start to the season has him tied for 12th in scoring while his six goals, courtesy of back-to-back hat tricks, are tied for seventh-most. Cattoni is also fourth in the league with a team-best 25 shots through his first two games of the season. Shawn Evans’ team-high seven assists are also tied for 10th in the NLL. With six points (3+3) through his first two professional games, rookie forward Charlie Bertrand is tied for third amongst all first-year players in goals (3) and fourth in points (6). Coming off his four-assist effort in last week’s loss to Buffalo, fellow rookie forward Ryan Smith ranks second among all NLL rookies in assists and tied for fourth in shots (13). Back for his second season in Rochester, transition man Chris Willman ranks among the top face-off specialists in the NLL having won 26-of-48 face-off attempts for a 54.2% success rate. Kirk’s 43-save effort was the fourth-most by any goaltender during opening weekend. Ryland Rees, who led the team with 75 loose ball recoveries last season, is tied for seventh in the league in that category with 10 on the season and Willman’s 48.1 percent success rate from the face-off X is the 12th-best in the league coming into tonight. Despite missing Saturday’s game against Buffalo due to NLL COVID-19 protocols, Cory Highfield is tied for second among all transition players with two points (1+1). After earning the start in each of the first two games, Kirk enters the weekend boasting a 1-1 record and ranks 10th among all NLL netminders with an 11.56 goals-against average. He’s also third in the league with 85 saves.
EVANS CONTINUES TO CLIMB
After becoming just the sixth player in NLL history to record 1,200 career points during the 2019-20 season, Shawn Evans continues to climb up the league’s all-time scoring lists. With his first goal of the game in Rochester’s 13-12 win over the Riptide on Dec. 4, Evans officially surpassed Shawn Williams for ninth all-time in goals (445) and by season’s end could also potentially finish one game shy of Williams for ninth on the all-time games played list. The 16-year pro and two-time NLL MVP also trails Colin Doyle by 64 assists for fourth all-time and is on pace to become just the fifth player in league history to reach 800 career assists. He’s also 13th on the league’s all-time loose balls list with 1,356 total loose ball recoveries over his NLL career.
HASEN BACK AT THE HELM
Leading the Knighthawks into their second 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 served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise since the 2011 season. In nine seasons behind the bench, 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. Hasen boasts an 84-86 lifetime record as an NLL bench boss.
SCOUTING THE FIREWOLVES
The FireWolves return home tonight after opening their inaugural campaign on the losing end of a 10-9 decision to the Toronto Rock during opening weekend. Albany trailed 8-6 early in the fourth quarter before reeling off three straight goals, including two on the power-play, to take a 9-8 lead with 6:42 to play in regulation. But back-to-back goals from Dan Dawson, the brother of Knighthawks captain Paul Dawson, would put Toronto back on top and the Rock would hold off a late push from Albany and hang on for their first win of the season. Andrew Kew led all players with four goals, including two on the power-play, and six points while veteran goaltender Doug Jamieson made 43 saves in the loss. Kew, originally a first-round selection of the New England Black Wolves in 2019, enters his second pro season after finishing with 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points during his rookie campaign. Among all NLL rookies, Kew ranked tied for first in assists, second in points and third overall in goals. With two assists in the 10-9 season-opening loss at Toronto, Greg Downing is tied for sixth among all league defensemen in assists and ranks 10th in points. Defenseman Joe Nardella, who ranked among the NLL’s top face-off specialists in 2019-20, went 17-for-21 at the face-off dot against Toronto. His 81.0% success rate is currently tops in the league entering play this weekend.
- Holden Cattoni reached the century mark in his NLL career with his third goal of the game last week against Buffalo.
- Shawn Evans needs four more goals for 450 in his career. He’s also seven assists away from 800 in his pro career and needs just 11 more points to reach 1,250 career points.
- Turner Evans needs two more assists for 100 in his pro career.
- Paul Dawson is 15 points away from 100 in his pro career.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks return home following a two-week layoff for their matchup of the New Year on Saturday, Jan. 8 when they host the reigning NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7 p.m. start and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as ESPN+.