TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (3-9) look to avoid the season sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Wings (5-7) tonight as the Eastern Conference rivals meet for the final time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start 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 WINGS STATS||2021-22 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|2021-22 NLL STANDINGS||LISTEN LIVE ON 107.3 FM THE BULL|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Tonight’s contest marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams in Rochester and the third overall with Philadelphia claiming both prior get-togethers. In the previous matchup back on Jan. 21, Rochester carried a two-goal lead going into halftime, but a second-half surge by the Wings would hold the Knigthhawks to just three goals over the final 30 minutes after being outscored 13-3 over that span, including 8-1 in the third quarter. Rochester forward Thomas Hoggarth (3+2) paved the way for the team’s offense with his three goals and two assists on the night, while reigning Knighthawks Offensive Player of the Year Holden Cattoni (2+1) and forward Turner Evans (2+0 both had two-goal efforts. Shawn Evans (0+6), who’s since been traded to Halifax, collected a team-high six assists to become just the fifth player in league history to reach 800 career assists with the primary helper on Cattoni’s first-quarter buzzer-beater. Both teams have continued to struggle since then, though, as the Knighthawks and Wings have each dropped their last four straight coming into this weekend. Both teams rank among the top six teams in shots with Philadelphia averaging the fourth-most shots per game with 52.17. The Knighthawks, meanwhile, rank sixth in that regard, averaging exactly 51.33 shots per game through their first 12 games of the season. Despite the offensive struggles for each team this season, the Knighthawks and Wings each boast winning records when leading after the third quarter. Conversely, Rochester and Philadelphia are 0-7 and 1-7, respectively, when trailing after three quarters of play.
WATCH: TONIGHT’S FACE-OFF FIRST LOOK
LAST TIME OUT
Rochester fell into a 5-0 hole in the opening quarter and were never able to recover as they came up short in a 9-6 loss to the Saskatchewan Rush in the first-ever meeting between the two teams last Saturday at SaskTel Centre. Rochester’s six goals marked a season-low for the Knighthawks, who were again plagued by a slow start that would ultimately prove costly. Ryan Smith (3+0) accounted for half of the team’s goal-scoring, producing his eighth multi-goal game of the season with his fifth hat trick, while forwards Curtis Knight (0+2), Holden Cattoni (1+2) and Turner Evans (1+1) all turned in multi-point performances. Rookie forward Charlie Bertrand (1+0) continued to add to his season goal total with a tally on the night. Netminder Joel Watson (0-2) made his second straight start in the crease for Rochester, facing the loss and stopping 44 shots along the way.
KNIGHTHAWKS ADD VETERAN GOALTENDER
For the second straight week, the Knighthawks signed a free agent goaltender after agreeing to terms with veteran netminder Lukas Coote on a one-year deal for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Coote, 30, joins the Knighthawks after spending the last five seasons in the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL), including four with his hometown Whitby Steelhawks. During the 2022 season, Coote went 5-2 with 245 saves in nine appearances while finishing second and sixth among all netminders with a 10.71 goals-against average .786 save percentage, respectively. In 54 career games with Whitby and Oshawa, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound veteran netminder has posted an 18-13-1 record with a 13.00 goals-against average and a .615 save percentage. He also contributed offensively, recording 22 assists, including 11 during the 2018 season. The Whitby, Ontario, native also went 4-1 in seven playoff contests, winning back-to-back ALL championships along the way with Oshawa (2017) and Whitby (2018). Additionally, Coote won a Creator’s Cup with the Durham TurfDogs in 2016 in the defunct Canadian Lacrosse League (CLL), making 42 saves on 51 shots in the championship game. Should Coote make his NLL debut this weekend, he will become the fourth different netminder to play at least one game for the Knighthawks.
HEAD OF THE ROOKIE CLASS
The transition to the indoor game has been relatively seamless for Knighthawks rookie forward Ryan Smith, who has taken his first NLL season by storm. Coming off another three-goal outing last Saturday against Saskatchewan, Smith comes into the matchup second among all first-year players with 22 goals while his 43 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 40-point mark, is also sixth with 21 assists. Additionally, Smith has the second-most power-play points among all league rookies with 13, which includes a team-high six 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 nine games and has five hat tricks over that span, including four of his last five. His 88 shots are also second-most among rookies behind only Teat.
KNIGHTHAWKS AGREE TO TERMS WITH ROCHESTER NATIVE
Among the flurry of roster moves the Knighthawks made in the recent weeks was the addition of Rochester native and defenseman Jared Conners, who the team selected in the third round (45th overall) of the 2020 NLL Entry Draft. Conners is one of the most decorated players to come out of the University of Virginia. A three-time Inside Lacrosse All-American selection, Conners completed his collegiate career with 35 points (20+15) – the most all-time among Virginia’s long-pole scorers – and 278 ground balls while appearing in all 77 games over his five seasons with the Cavaliers. Conners, who was one of several players to utilize the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, led Virginia to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2021 and 2019, the first of which was the program’s second title of the decade and first since 2011. He was named the Lt. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Outstanding Midfielder of the Year for the 2020-21 season after producing 10 points (4+6) in 18 games while also leading all non-faceoff players in the nation with 77 ground balls. Conners, much like Smith, is new to the indoor game following one season in the Premier Lacrosse League. In eight games with the Archers, Conners recorded 12 ground balls and added three caused turnovers. It was during his time in high school that Conners established himself as one of Rochester’s most dynamic lacrosse players. A four-year letter-winner at Pittsford, Conners was named an Under Armour All-American and was twice named a US Lacrosse All-American. He also earned First-Team All-County and All-Greater Rochester honors in addition to being a two-time Section V Defensive Player of the Year selection.
SCOUTING THE WINGS
After defeating the Knighthawks 18-10 on its home turf, Philadelphia, has struggled considerably since then, going 1-5 in its last six games, and much like Rochester, have dropped four straight coming into the weekend. The Wings, who have been outscored 51-28 over their current four-game skid, are coming off their most lopsided loss of the season following a 17-5 drubbing by the first-place Buffalo Bandits on March 12. Philadelphia trailed 2-1 after the first quarter and were held to just a single goal in three straight quarters before being outscored 11-3 in the second half. The Wings come to Rochester fueled by veteran forward Kevin Crowley, who paces the Philadelphia offense and is tied for 16th in the NLL in scoring with 58 points through 12 games this season. Crowley, who posted a season-high nine points in the previous meeting against Rochester, is also tied for eighth in the league with 41 assists. The Wings also have one of the NLL’s top scoring defensemen in Kiel Matisz, whose 22 assists and 29 points rank third and fourth among all defensive players, respectively. As was the case during the 2019-20 season, Trevor Baptiste is among the league’s top face-off specialist with 196 face-off wins and a 65.3 percent success rate. He’s also third in the NLL with 119 loose ball recoveries.
RIORDEN’S HOMECOMING TO ROCHESTER
Tonight’s game will serve as a homecoming for Wings forward and Fairport native Blaze Riorden, who has made a name for himself in both field and box lacrosse. Considered one of the top goaltenders in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), Riorden led Team Chaos to back-to-back appearances in the PLL Championship Series, winning the title in 2021 after finishing second in 2020. In 2020, he posted a league-high 119 saves on his way to earning the Oren Lyons Goalie of the Tournament Award. During the regular season, he led all netminders with a .558 save percentage and 153 saves, earning him Goalie of the Year honors. Prior to turning pro, Riorden played his college lacrosse at the University of Albany, where he was named an All-American and was the America East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He graduated as the program’s Division I all-time leader in saves with 849 and was later drafted 51st overall by the former Rochester Rattlers in the Major League Lacrosse Entry Draft.
- Curtis Knight needs five points to reach 400 in his pro career.
- Holden Cattoni needs eight points to reach 300 in his pro career.
- 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 just the eighth player in NLL history to surpass 500 career penalty minutes at Buffalo on Feb. 5.
- Turner Evans surpassed 100 career assists as part of a five-point effort at Albany on Dec. 18.
- Philadelphia head coach and general manager Paul Day spent 15 seasons over two stints with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 1995-2005 and then again from 2011-2014, serving as both head and assistant coach. He helped the Knighthawks capture four league titles, including three straight from 2012-14.
- Knighthawks defenseman Matt Bennett appeared in seven games for the Wings during the 2018-19 season.
- Rochester captain Paul Dawson spent two (2011-2012) seasons with Philadelphia, totaling 20 points in 32 games.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
Rochester heads north of the border again for the second time in three weeks on Friday, April 1 to take on the Halifax Thunderbirds at Scotiabank Centre. The Eastern Conference showdown gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET and will be carried live on The Bull 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.