TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (2-4) close out their season-long three-game road swing tonight as they look to take down the undefeated Buffalo Bandits (5-0) in an Eastern Conference showdown at KeyBank Center. The 7:30 p.m. contest will be the second of three scheduled meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as ESPN+.
|2021-22 NLL WEEK 10 STATS PACK
|KNIGHTHAWKS PLAYER BIOS
|2021-22 BANDITS STATS
|2021-22 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS
|2021-22 NLL STANDINGS
|LISTEN LIVE ON 107.3 FM THE BULL
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
The Knighthawks are 0-1 this season against Buffalo after dropping a 12-8 decision to the Bandits back on Dec. 11 in the previous get-together between the two teams. 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 the Bandits, who scored six times in the final frame to earn the win at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The teams combined for four different lead changes, 20 goals and 110 shots. 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. The Knighthawks also kept the NLL’s top offensive unit silent for the entire second quarter, the first and only time Buffalo was held scoreless all season. Rookie Ryan Smith had a game-high 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). Buffalo has outscored its opponents in every quarter except for the second this season. The Bandits also lead the NLL with 19 first-quarter goals. Rochester, meanwhile, has played its best lacrosse in the second quarter during which the Knighthawks have outscored the opposition by a 20-11 margin. Entering tonight, both teams rank among the top five in shots and are currently averaging just over 52 shots per game. Additionally, both teams are unbeaten this season when leading after three quarters, including a perfect 3-0 mark for Buffalo at home and 2-0 record for Rochester when on the road.
LAST TIME OUT
Rochester suffered its third straight loss this past Saturday at FirstOntario Centre, where the Toronto Rock used a five-goal run in the second half to run away with a 12-8 win. Knighthawks forwards Ryan Smith, Curtis Knight and Turner Evans all logged five points apiece on two goals and three assists to lead the offense while two-time NLL MVP Shawn Evans notched two power-play markers to complete the scoring for Rochester, moving within one of Josh Sanderson for ninth on the NLL’s all-time list. Evans, who factored in on two of Rochester’s first three goals of the night, also notched a team-high 16 shots on goal, the most by a Knighthawk this season. Goaltender Rylan Hartley (1-3) made his fourth straight start in the crease for the Knighthawks and suffered the loss despite making 42 saves on the 53 shots he faced. It was Rochester’s first game without leading point-getter Holden Cattoni, who was assigned to injured reserve earlier in the day. The game also featured the professional debut of defenseman Tyler Halls, who finished with one block and went 4-for-9 on face-off attempts.
CATTONI CATCHING FIRE EARLY ON
Despite missing last game due to injury, his first dating back to Rochester’s inaugural campaign in 2019-20, Cattoni still finds himself among the NLL’s top scorers entering Week 10. His explosive start to the season has him tied for 17th in the league in overall scoring with a team-high 26 points while also continuing to pace the Knighthawks with 12 goals in five games. After opening the season with straight hat tricks and 10 goals in his first three games, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year is now tied for 12th in the league in goals. Cattoni is also ninth in the league with a team-best 56 shots. Averaging just over five points per game, the fifth-year pro is closing in on his fourth straight 50-point season and remains on pace to shatter his career-high 80-point campaign which he set during the 2018-19 season as a member of the Georgia Swarm.
ROOKIE KNIGHTHAWKS BEGINNING TO TAKE FLIGHT
The Knighthawks come into the weekend owning two of the NLL’s top six scoring rookies in forwards Ryan Smith and Charlie Bertrand. Smith, who’s new to the indoor game after leading Chaos to the 2021 PLL Championship this past summer, has taken his first NLL season by storm. Averaging more than three points per game, Smith is tied for fourth in rookie scoring with 19 points while also ranking fourth with 12 assists. His seven goals are equal to that of Bertrand, tying for fifth-most among all first-year players. Rochester’s third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, Smith has scored two of his seven goals this season on the power-play, which are tied for second-most among rookies. His 42 shots trail only Jeff Teat of the New York Riptide for most by a rookie this season. Bertrand, a three-time NCAA National Champion, ranks eighth among NLL rookies in points (15) and is tied for fifth in goals (7). He’s also tied for second in the league with two shorthanded goals.
EVANS JOINS ELITE COMPANY, 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 of six assists against Philadelphia on Jan. 22, Evans became just the fifth player in league history to reach 800 career assists, joining the likes of John Tavares, Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson and Colin Doyle. The 16-year pro and two-time NLL MVP trails Doyle by 52 assists for fourth all-time and needs just one more goal to move ahead of Sanderson for ninth all-time with 450. He also needs just six more penalty minutes to pass Geoff Snider for third on the all-time list with 583. Evans enters the week tied for 12th in the NLL with a team-high 19 assists and is second on the team in scoring with 24 points in six games.
SCOUTING THE BANDITS
Buffalo has taken the 2021-22 season by storm, sitting in first place after beginning the year with five straight wins, including three at home. The Bandits were nearly handed their first loss of the season last week against the Riptide, who went on a six-goal run in the fourth quarter to erase a 14-11 deficit only to squander the lead in the final minutes of regulation. Trailing 17-14, Buffalo scored four straight unanswered goals, including three on the power-play, with leading goal-scorer Josh Byrne sending the game into overtime with 22 seconds remaining in regulation. Chris Cloutier netted the game-winner 71 seconds into the extra session to complete the comeback and preserve Buffalo’s perfect start to the season. Dhane Smith, who’s coming an 11-point effort last week against New York, continues to the pace the Bandits and is tied for third in the NLL in scoring with 35 points (9+26) in five games. He’s also third in the league with 26 assists, nine of which came in last week’s 18-17 overtime win over the Riptide. Byrne paces the NLL’s top-ranked offense with a team-high 13 goals, tying him for ninth in the league in that category, while his 30 points overall are tied for 12th-most. He also leads the league with three shorthanded goals. Tehoka Nanticoke ranks sixth among all first-year players with 16 points and leads all rookies with 10 goals. Buffalo’s biggest asset, however, is between the pipes in veteran goaltender Matt Vinc, who’s played every second this season with the Bandits. Arguably one of the best netminders in NLL history, Vinc currently leads the league in wins (5) and ranks third in saves (211). A seven-time NLL Goaltender of the Year, Vinc spent eight seasons with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2018, backstopping the team to three straight NLL championships in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014. Vinc, who’s also an eight-time NLL All-Pro Fist-Team selection, is the all-time leader in minutes played (12,687), saves (8,348) and wins (120). Vinc is the only netminder in league history to earn Goaltender of the Year honors seven times and the only netminder to win an NLL championship in three straight years.
- Shawn Evans needs one more goal for 450 in his career.
- Thomas Hoggarth is 10 points away from reaching the century mark for his pro career.
- Paul Dawson needs just three more penalty minutes to become the eighth player in league history to reach 500 in his pro career.