TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (9-4) bring the month of March to a close tonight as they make their lone trip out west for their inaugural meeting with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs (4-8) at Michelob ULTRA Arena. The 10:30 p.m. ET matchup will be the only meeting of the season between the two teams and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.
|2022-23 NLL STATS PACK
|2022-23 NLL STANDINGS
|2022-23 DESERT DOGS STATS
|2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS
|WATCH ON ESPN+
|LISTEN LIVE ON BIG 107.3 FM
KNIGHTHAWKS SUPPORTING TUCKER OUT LYMPHOMA NIGHT
While tonight’s matchup may be the first-ever between the two teams as opponents, the Knighthawks and Desert Dogs have joined forces in support of a cause much greater than the game of lacrosse. The Desert Dogs are hosting their inaugural Tucker Out Lymphoma Night, an event aimed at raising significant awareness for organizations associated with childhood cancer and honoring the memory of Tucker Williams, the son of Las Vegas head coach general manager Shawn Williams, who passed away in December 2014 following a courageous battle with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Both teams will wear specialty jerseys that are currently up for auction. Williams, who was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2021, spent 10 of his 17 pro seasons with the original Knighthawks from 2002-2011. He posted his best season with Rochester in 2004 when he finished third in the league in goals (45) and eighth in points (81) on his way to earning NLL First Team All-Pro honors. A six-time NLL All-Star, Williams led the Knighthawks to the 2007 Champion’s Cup after a 91-point campaign during the regular season.
HASEN TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY TONIGHT IN VEGAS
It’s a milestone night for Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen, who will be behind the bench for his 200th regular-season game, a feat only five others in league history have accomplished before him. He will become 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 fought their way back from a 6-3 deficit but fell 9-8 in the first minute of overtime to the Philadelphia Wings this past Sunday at Segar and Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Both teams traded multi-goal runs in each half before the Wings closed out the game with three straight for the win, including the game-winner from Rochester native Blaze Riorden just 19 seconds into overtime. Much like he has all season, Connor Fields paced the Knighthawks offense, factoring in on six of Rochester’s eight goals. In addition to scoring his 39th and 40th goals of the campaign, Fields established a new franchise-record for assists (42) in a season as he tallied four in the contest. He now holds the single-season franchise marks for points, goals and assists, all of which were captured over three consecutive weeks. Holden Cattoni (2+2) and Ryan Smith (2+1) each scored twice while Thomas Hoggarth (1+2) finished with a three-point effort. Austin Hasen, Dan Coates and Ryland Rees all chipped an assist while Turner Evans (1+0) rounded out the scoring. Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (9-4) made his 13th consecutive start between the pipes, stopping 45 shots in the defeat, including 17 in the fourth quarter to surpass the 1,000-save mark for his professional career.
WORKING OVERTIME…AND THEN SOME
Rochester’s 11-10 overtime win over New York on Feb. 25 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 1-1 this season in games decided beyond regulation and are 2-4 all-time in overtime dating back to their inaugural campaign.
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 18-for-56 in two games at the center dot, good for a 32.1% success rate. It’s been trial by fire for Post, who was forced to go up against arguably two of the league’s perennial face-off specialists in Jerome Thompson of Georgia and Trevor Baptiste. 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 11 of their first 13 games, which includes 10 of the last 11 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 70 shots-per-game, Rochester boasts a near-perfect 6-1 record this season when outshooting the opponent and are 3-2 when being outshot. They’re also 0-1 when shots are tied. Connor Fields currently leads the team with 143 shots on goal and is one of three players with more than 100 shots on the season.
FIELDS SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS
As has been the case all season, Connor Fields has consistently and impressively evolved into one of the NLL’s most elite offensive players this season. Following his 12th straight multi-goal effort to begin the season, Fields enters the weekend ranked second in the NLL in goals (40), trailing only New York’s Jeff Teat in that category, and sixth in points (82) despite missing one game. By averaging nearly seven points per game through his first 12 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 five games remaining in the regular season, he’s already set the franchise marks for goals, points and assists, all of which came over three consecutive weeks, and has led the team in scoring in 10 of his 12 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 42 of his 44 career NLL games, including at least two points in all 12 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 9-4 start to the season. Hartley, who has started all 13 games for Rochester, leads all NLL netminders in saves (550), is tied for third in wins (9) and ranks fourth in minutes (779). He also anchors a Knighthawks defense that has allowed the sixth-fewest goals-against per game (11.54) this season and has kept the opposition to fewer than 10 goals on five different occasions. Hartley, who recently cracked the 1,000-save mark for his pro career, also established the single-game record for saves (55) and single-season record for assists and points by a goaltender (3) this season.
SCOUTING THE DESERT DOGS
The Desert Dogs have endured an up-and-down start to their first NLL season. As the league’s newest expansion franchise, Las Vegas dropped its first four games of its inaugural campaign before finding its stride after the New Year, winning three of its next four and closing out the month of February with three straight wins. Since then, however, the Desert Dogs have continued to struggle and come into the weekend amid a three-game skid, which has dropped them to sixth place in the seven-team Western Conference. Las Vegas is fueled offensively by veteran forward and team captain Rob Hellyer, who paces the team in assists (4) and points (64) while appearing in all 12 games this season. Hellyer, who came to Las Vegas by way of trade from Toronto where he spent his first 10 seasons, led the team in scoring for the ninth straight game in last week’s 11-8 loss to Panther City. Zack Greer, who spent the last two seasons with San Diego Seals, has scored a team-high 23 goals in 11 games. Greer has reached the 20-goal mark in eight of his last 10 seasons dating back to the 2012 campaign.