TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (3-6) open the second half of the 2021-22 regular season tonight as they look to halt a three-game road winless skid while also gain some ground on the Georgia Swarm (4-6) in the season series finale between the two teams at Gas South Arena. The Eastern Conference matchup gets underway at 7:30 p.m. 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 SWARM STATS||2021-22 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|2021-22 NLL STANDINGS||LISTEN LIVE ON 107.3 FM THE BULL|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
The matchup will be the second and final between the Knighthawks and Swarm, who last met on Jan. 21 in Rochester, where Georgia came away with a 12-8 win despite a strong second-half showing from the Knighthawks and a stellar 45-save effort from rookie goaltender Rylan Hartley. The Knighthawks went goal for goal with the Swarm for three straight quarters, but a slow start in the opening frame, during which they were outscored 5-1, ultimately proved to be the difference. Charlie Bertrand (1+1) scored Rochester’s first goal of the night, giving the rookie forward at least one goal in each of the Knighthawks’ four games this season. Forwards Curtis Knight (2+0) Ryan Smith (2+0) and transition player Matt Gilray (2+0) each scored twice, while forwards Holden Cattoni (0+3), Turner Evans (0+2) and Shawn Evans (0+2) and defenseman Dan Coates (0+2) all had multi-assists outings. Georgia forward Lyle Thompson (1+5) led the offense for his team with a goal and five assists, while forward Jordan Hall, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, had a three-point effort with three assists. The Swarm sit one game ahead of Rochester in the NLL’s Eastern Conference standings entering Week 14 as the race to the postseason begins to take shape. Both teams remain in pursuit of the fifth and final playoff spot in the East, currently held by the Philadelphia Wings, an opponent both the Swarm and Knighthawks will face in the second half of the season. Both Georgia and Rochester have been outscored in every quarter this season but the second; the Swarm holding a 28-20 scoring advantage while the Knighthawks have bested their opponents 25-18 during the frame. Both teams rank among the top six in shots, with each currently averaging just over 51 shots per game, and both have winning records when leading after three quarters, including an unblemished 2-0 mark for Rochester on the road. Additionally, Georgia’s two home wins are equal to that of Rochester’s road victories this season.
LAST TIME OUT
A six-goal run by the first-place Buffalo Bandits to start the second half ultimately proved to be the difference as the Knighthawks were unable to close the gap in a 14-8 loss this past Saturday at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Rookie forward Ryan Smith (3+1) recorded his second home hat trick of the season while leading the offense with four points. Forwards Turner Evans (1+2) and Holden Cattoni (1+2) both recorded three-point efforts with a goal and an assist apiece, while Charlie Bertrand (1+0), Thomas Hoggarth (1+1) and Matt Gilray (1+0) provided Rochester’s other tallies on the night. Veteran forward Shawn Evans (0+2) recorded a multi-assist effort with a pair to bring his season total to a team-leading 34. Goaltender Rylan Hartley (2-5) made his seventh straight start but suffered the loss while making 35 saves.
EVANS CONTINUING TO ETCH HIS NAME IN HISTORY
It’s safe to say that Knighthawks forward Shawn Evans has had a penchant for making history over his illustrious 16-year pro career in the National Lacrosse League. During Rochester’s inaugural campaign in 2019-20, the two-time NLL MVP became just the sixth player in league history to record 1,200 career points, joining elite company that includes the likes of John Tavares, Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson, Colin Doyle and John Grant, Jr. It didn’t take him long either as he recorded a point on each of Rochester’s first six goals of the contest, including the primary assist on all three first-quarter scores. Evans notched his 1,200th point with a goal just 53 seconds into the second quarter. He’s since added two milestones this season, first by becoming only the fifth player in NLL history to reach 800 career assists with his first of a team-high six assists at Philadelphia on Jan. 22. Two weeks later, Evans surpassed Sanderson for ninth all-time in goals with his 450th career goal against Buffalo on Feb. His most impressive outing of the season, however, came back on Feb. 12 in a record-setting performance during Rochester’s 15-13 win over Albany when he set a single-game franchise record with nine assists in addition to trying the franchise mark with 10 points. Entering Week 14, Evans now trails Doyle by 37 assists for fourth all-time and needs eight more goals to move ahead of Mark Steenhuis for seventh on the all-time list.
KNIGHTHAWKS VETERANS LEADING THE WAY
With two more assists last weekend against Buffalo, Evans, who’s recorded at least one point in all of Rochester’s 21 games dating back to 2019-20, continues to lead the team with 34 assists and 42 points in nine games this season. His 34 assists are tied for sixth in the league while his 42 points place him inside the NLL’s top 20 point-getters. Holden Cattoni, meanwhile, is tied for 17th in the NLL with a team-high 18 goals as he closes in on his fourth straight 20-goal season dating back to his rookie campaign.
DYNAMIC DUO TAKING FLIGHT
The Knighthawks come into the weekend owning two of the NLL’s top seven 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 27 points while also ranking fifth with 14 assists. His 13 goals are third-most among all first-year players, trailing only Buffalo’s Tehoka Nanticoke (17) and New York’s Jeff Teat (17). Rochester’s third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, Smith has scored three of his 13 goals this season on the power-play, which are second-most among rookies. He also ranks third with 60 shots. He’s recorded multi-goal efforts in five of his last six games and is coming off back-to-back hat tricks for the first time this season. Bertrand, a three-time NCAA National Champion, is tied for seventh among NLL rookies in points (21) and is tied for ninth in goals (7). He also leads all rookies and is tied for second in the league with two shorthanded goals. Bertrand has recorded at least one point in all nine matchups this season and has totaled eight assists over his last five games, including a season-high three-assist effort in the 15-13 win over the Albany FireWolves on Feb. 12. The Baldwinsville, NY, native has recorded multiple points in seven of his nine games this season, including four consecutive multi-point showings to begin his rookie campaign.
HARTLEY HANDLING BUSY WORKLOAD
Following the early-season departure of veteran goaltender Evan Kirk, who was placed on the Holdout List for the remainder of the season, Hartley has become a mainstay between the pipes for Rochester. The 23-year-old has started the last seven straight games for the Knighthawks, going 2-5 with an 11.71 goals-against average and a .782 save percentage while totaling 272 saves over that span, including a season-high 48-save effort against Buffalo back on Feb. 5. Acquired by Rochester in the third round of the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft, Hartley ranks 11th among all netminders in saves and 12th in minutes played (389). He also ranks ninth in save percentage among all NLL netminders that have played at least six games. Hartley has made 30 or more saves in each of his seven starts this season with both of his wins coming against Albany.
SCOUTING THE SWARM
Georgia returns home following the bye week looking to get back in the win column after dropping two of its last three matchups. Most recently, the Swarm were outlasted by the Halifax Thunderbirds by a 15-10 score back on Feb. 19 north of the border. Georgia was outscored in every quarter but the fourth after the teams combined for 10 goals in the opening frame. Lyle Thompson, Brendan Bomberry and Shayne Jackson all finished with five points on two goals and three assists while the goaltending duo of former Knighthawk Craig Wende and Mike Poulin combined to make 35 saves in the loss. As has been the case all season, the Swarm continue to be led offensively by the sixth-year pro Thompson, who leads the team in all offensive categories, including goals (27), assists (33) and points (60). The former NLL MVP and two-time NLL All-Pro selection is currently tied for second in the league in goals and tied for third in overall scoring, becoming just the fourth player this season to reach the 60-point mark. He’s only six points off the league lead behind Albany’s Joe Resetarits. He’s also second in the NLL in shots (111) and has the third-most power-play assists with 11. A former first overall pick in 2015, Thompson has not recorded less than three points per game all season and is averaging six points per game through his first 10 appearances. The Swarm also own the top point-producing defensemen in the league in Bomberry and Jordan MacIntosh, who rank first and second in scoring with 35 and 32 points, respectively. Additionally, Bomberry leads all defensemen with 16 goals while MacIntosh paces the group with 21 assists, 11 of which have come in his last three games. Poulin has again been a mainstay for the Swarm having played just about every minute this season, boasting a 4-5 record with an 11.74 goals-against average and a .753 save percentage. The former NLL Goaltender of the Year comes into the weekend fifth among all NLL goaltenders with 333 saves and tied for sixth with four wins. With a win tonight, Poulin will surpass Anthony Cosmo for fourth all-time with his 99th career win and is two wins away from becoming just the fourth goaltender all-time to reach the century mark in his career. He also needs just nine more saves to move into sixth all-time in league history with 6,000 career saves.
- Thomas Hoggarth is six points away from reaching the century mark for his pro career.
- Knighthawks forward Holden Cattoni spent the 2018-19 season with the Swarm, recording career-highs in goals (27), assists (53) and points (80) while appearing in 18 games.
- Swarm goaltender Craig Wende is back for his second stint in Georgia after spending the 2019-20 season with the Knighthawks. Wende earned the first win in franchise history after backstopping Rochester to a 13-12 win over the Calgary Roughnecks on Jan. 18, 2020.
- Georgia forward Jordan Hall played for the original Knighthawks.
- Swarm head coach Ed Comeau served as head coach of the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2006-08, winning an NLL title in 2007.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks are back in action on Friday, March 4 as they travel south to wrap up their season series against Lyle Thompson and the Georgia Swam at Gas South Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start 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.