TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks embark on their third season in the National Lacrosse League tonight as they meet the Eastern Conference rival Georgia Swarm in the season-opener between the two teams at Gas South Arena in Atlanta. The 8 p.m. matchup will be the first of three meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.
|TEAM ROSTERS||GAME NOTES|
|2022-23 NLL STATS PACK||2022-23 NLL STANDINGS|
|2022-23 SWARM STATS||2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|WATCH ON ESPN+||LISTEN LIVE ON BIG 107.3 FM|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Rochester is looking for its win in franchise history over the Swarm having dropped all three prior get-togethers dating back to the Knighthawks’ inaugural 2019-20 campaign. Ryan Smith paced all players with 11 points over the two-game season series, including a nine-point outing (4+5) in the most recent matchup between the two teams back on March 4. The performance was one of a dozen multi-goal efforts by Smith and the third of seven straight such games for the first-year forward who would eventually be named to the NLL’s All-Rookie Team. It was also the first of two four-goal goals for Smith as well a season-high output in points, falling one point short of tying the single-season franchise record. Both teams had winning records last season when scoring first and leading after halftime.
OPENING THE SEASON
Tonight’s matchup marks the second time in three years Rochester and Georgia will open the season against one another. The Knighthawks hosted the Swarm to kick-off their inaugural season, falling 14-4 at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The Knighthawks are 1-1 all-time in season-opening games with their only win over that span coming nearly a year ago to the day by way of a 13-12 overtime win over the New York Riptide on Dec. 4 of last season.
HASEN BACK AT THE HELM
Leading the Knighthawks into their third 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 previously served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2019. 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. With 87 career wins, including four last season, Hasen remains on pace to become just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins. Joining Hasen, who is also a four-time Mann Cup winner as head coach of the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, and assistant coach Pat O’Toole for this season is Gavin Prout, who replaces Mat Giles as the team’s offensive coach. Arguably one of the biggest names in the sport of lacrosse, Prout has won at all levels of competition as both a player and a coach. His distinguished resume includes league championships in the National Lacrosse League (2006) and Major League Lacrosse (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009) as well as a Mann Cup in 2000 and pair of Minto Cups in 1997 and 1999. Internationally, he’s also a five-time medal winner with Team Canada, including three gold medals. Most recently, the Whitby, Ontario, native won his first medal as a coach after leading Canada to a gold medal finish at the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championship, held at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg this past August. Canada went undefeated during the event, which marked Prout’s international head coaching debut, and outscored the opposition 47-17 in round-robin play before defeating Haudenosaunee 16-9 in the championship game.
KNIGHTHAWKS CORE RETURNS
Of the 21 active players on Rochester’s opening-night roster, 12 appeared in at least on game with the Knighthawks during the 2021-22 season. Rochester returns its top three point-getters in Holden Cattoni, Curtis Knight and Ryan Smith, all of whom are coming off banner years for the Knighthawks. Cattoni, who returns for his third season in Rochester after being acquired from Georgia in the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft, led the team in scoring for the second straight year with 63 points (27+36) in 17 games. Knight, meanwhile, lead the team with 38 assists while appearing in all 18 games. Smith, who became the second Knighthawk to earn NLL All-Rookie Team honors following Ryland Rees (2019-20), took his first indoor professional season by storm, quickly emerging as one of the NLL’s most dynamic rookie point-getters in 2021-22. The third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, Smith finished second among NLL rookies in goals (35) and third in points (59) while also leading all first-year players with a franchise record eight power-play goals. He ranked third among rookies in power-play scoring with 15 points. Smith, the most decorated player ever to come out of Robert Morris University, recorded multi-goal efforts in 10 of his last 12 games, including six hat tricks over that span.
KNIGHTHAWKS KEY ACQUISITIONS
For the second year in a row, Rochester made a significant splash during the offseason free agency period with the acquisition of up-and-coming forward Connor Fields and veteran defenseman Brad Gillies, whose additions will undoubtedly strengthen the team’s offense and defense, respectively. Fields, who inked a three-year deal with Rochester, was acquired along with goaltender Riley Hutchcraft and the first overall pick in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft (Thomas McConvey) from the Las Vegas Desert Dogs during the 2022 Expansion Draft. Fields completed his third NLL season in 2021-22 with 67 points (32+35) in 18 games for the Buffalo Bandits, good for third on the team in scoring. A native of East Amherst, NY, Fields also added 16 points (7+9) in six playoff contests while leading the Bandits to their second NLL Finals appearance in three years. In 32 career NLL games with Buffalo and San Diego, Fields has totaled 116 points (52+64) and 178 loose ball recoveries after being selected in the first round (10th overall) by the Seals in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft. Fields played his collegiate lacrosse at the University at Albany, where he was a four-time All-American and named a Tewaaraton Award nominee in each of his final three seasons after amassing an astonishing 364 points (199+165) in 69 career games for the Great Danes, becoming one of the top scorers in Division I. As a senior, Fields ranked sixth in the nation in points per game (5.38) and assists per game (3.25) en route to earning America East Offensive Player of the Year and America East All-Conference First Team honors for the second straight year. He also led the Great Danes to their first-ever appearance in the Final Four, ultimately falling to Yale before being named to the All-Tournament Team for the second consecutive season. Gillies, who also agreed to terms on a three-year contract, completed his sixth pro season in 2021-22 with the Halifax Thunderbirds, scoring four goals and adding five assists for nine points in 17 games. A native of Oakville, Ontario, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman has totaled 64 points (28+36) and 350 loose ball recoveries in 87 career NLL games. Gillies is no stranger to Rochester having spent the first four years of his pro career with the previous Knighthawks organization after being selected ninth overall in the 2015 NLL Entry Draft. In 59 games with Knighthawks, Gillies recorded 50 points (22+28) and was a three-time winner of the team’s community service award. Prior to turning pro, Gillies was a four-year starter at Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) from 2012-2015. A mainstay on the Tigers midfield, he tallied 97 career points on 27 goals and 70 assists in 83 career games, helping the Tigers to four Liberty League titles and four trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, including a championship game appearance in 2013.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Among the several rookies looking to make an impact in their first pro season is forward Austin Hasen, who the Knighthawks traded up for and acquired 18th overall in the first round of this year’s draft. Hasen, the son of Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen, was one of four Knighthawks 2022 draft picks to sign with Rochester entering this season, the most from any draft year since the team’s inception. Hasen is fresh off completing his senior season at Belmont Abbey College in 2022 with career-highs in goals (41), assists (17) and points (58) while starting all 15 games. Selected 18th overall, he was named the 2022 Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Crusaders in scoring in addition to recording 81.5 percent of his shots on goal. He also had seven caused turnovers and 14 groundballs, earning him a spot in the 2022 USILA Senior All-Star Game. He was also a member of the 2022 Mann Cup-winning Lakers, notching 23 points in 12 games while helping the team to its fourth straight provincial MSL title and fourth straight national title.
SCOUTING THE SWARM
Despite finishing the 2021-22 season with a 9-9 record, Georgia narrowly missed the playoffs after losing tiebreaker with Philadelphia for the fifth and final spot in the NLL’s Eastern Conference. Fortunately for the Swarm, however, much of last year’s team remains intact, including the return of their top three point-getters in forwards Lyle Thompson, Shayne Jackson and Brendan Bomberry, who collectively accounted for 109 goals and 241 points during the 2021-22 campaign. Thompson’s 102 points were good for fifth in the league in scoring last season, topping the century mark for the third time in five years, while also being one of only five NLL players to surpass the 100-point plateau. His 55 assists also tied for 11th-most among league leaders in that category. Georgia’s biggest offseason acquisitions came in the form of high-profile veteran transition man and face-off specialist Jeremy Thompson and forward Andrew Kew. A two-time NLL champion, Thompson joins his younger brother Lyle and Miles in Georgia after spending last season with Panther City during its inaugural season. With PCLC, Thompson won 199-of-383 faceoffs, a 52-percent clip. He also ranked eighth on the team and 16th among NLL defenders in points, totaling 17 (4+13) while recording 146 loose balls, 13 caused turnovers, and three blocked shots. Kew had 59 points in 15 games last season with Albany.
- 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.
- Swarm head coach Ed Comeau served as head coach of the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2006-08, winning an NLL title in 2007.
- needs 13 face-off wins to reach 500 in his career.
- needs 10 loose ball recoveries to reach 800 in his career.
- needs nine points to reach 200 in his career.