TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
Fresh off their second win of the season, the Rochester Knighthawks (2-8) set out on a two-game trek through the West Division beginning tonight in southern California when then they face-off against the San Diego Seals (5-6) at Pechanga Arena. The 10:30 p.m. ET will be the only meeting of the season between the two teams and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as B/R Live.
LAST TIME OUT
What began as a relatively calm matchup between the NLL’s two expansion teams quickly escalated into one of the biggest back-and-forth offensive battles of the season as the Knighthawks survived a late push from the New York Riptide and held on for a thrilling 13-12 win on this past Saturday at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Curtis Knight led the Knighthawks with eight assists, including the 200th of his pro career early in the second quarter. Holden Cattoni (4+2) recorded six points on the night, while also earning his fourth hat trick on the year. Dan Michel (2+1) and Mark Cockerton (2+2) both recorded their first multi-goal efforts in a Rochester uniform, while Turner Evans (2+0) also tallied two markers during the contest. Phil Caputo (1+3), Ryland Rees (1+1) and Doug Utting (1+0) all contributed to the scoresheet with a goal apiece. Goaltender Rylan Hartley (1+2) made his third consecutive start in the crease, making 49 saves on the 61 shots he faced while recording his first professional win. After the Knighthawks exploded for seven goals in the third quarter to take a 13-6 lead, the Riptide scored the game’s final six goals in the fourth to pull within goal. The contest came down to the final minute, but Rochester was able to hold off the last-second push from New York to pick up its second win in franchise history.
VIEW FROM ROCHESTER
Averaging nearly six points per game through his first eight games, Cattoni’s explosive start to the 2019-20 season has him ranked fifth in the NLL in scoring while continuing to pace the Knighthawks in all offensive categories in goals (22), assists (35) and points (57). The fourth-year pro comes into the weekend eighth in the league in assists and tied for ninth in the NLL with 10 a team-high power-play assists, six of which have come over his last five games. Cattoni, who’s one of just two Knighthawks players to record at least one point in every game he’s played in so far this season, has reached the 50-point mark in each of the last three seasons and remains on pace to shatter his career-high 80-point campaign which he set last season as a member of the Georgia Swarm. Despite missing last game due to injury, Shawn Evans remains at a close second with 43 points on 14 goals and 29 assists in addition to a team-high 41 penalty minutes. Prior to his injury, the two-time NLL MVP was recording nearly five points per game while also averaging nearly 14 shots. Cory Highfield ranks ninth in scoring among all NLL rookies with 11 points (7+4) in 10 games. Rochester’s second-round selection (18th overall) in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, Highfield shows seven points (3+4) in his last four games, including goals in three straight games over that span. His seven goals are also sixth-most among all rookies. Ryland Rees, meanwhile, comes into the weekend third among all first-year players with a team-high 61 loose ball recoveries, trailing only New England’s Joe Nardella (81) and New York’s Alex Woodall (77) in that category. Rochester’s power-play is one of the most potent in the league with a 47.5% success rate that ranks sixth-best in the league. To date, the Knighthawks have scored 19 goals on 40 man-advantage opportunities and come into the weekend boasting a remarkable 66.7% conversion rate over their last five games, going 12-for-18 on the power-play over that span.
EVANS CONTINUES TO CLIMB
Not long after becoming just the sixth player in NLL history to record 1,200 career points, Shawn Evans continues to climb up the league’s all-time scoring lists. With his fourth assist of the game in the 16-15 overtime loss at Buffalo on Jan. 31, Evans surpassed John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in league history. His other notable milestone came back on Jan. 11 in Toronto when he joined Grant and four others as the only players in NLL history to reach 1,200 points. Evans will pass Shawn Williams for ninth all-time in goals (445) on his next goal.
KNIGHTHAWKS ADD REINFORCEMENTS ON OFFENSE
With injuries beginning to sweep through the core of Rochester’s offense, the Knighthawks have added reinforcements for the second half of the season with the addition of forwards Cam Milligan and Liam Osborne on one-year deals. Milligan, 24, made his pro debut last season for the previous Knighthawks franchise, scoring one goal with two assists in three games. Originally a sixth-round selection (54th overall) of the New England Black Wolves in the 2017 NLL Entry Draft, Milligan played four years of collegiate lacrosse at both Towson University (2014) and the University of Vermont (2015-17), amassing 170 points in a combined 50 games. During his time at Vermont, the Peterborough, Ontario, native was twice named an America East All-Conference Second Team selection and earned America East All-Tournament honors in back-to-back seasons with the Catamounts. He left Vermont ranked third in assists and seventh in points in school history. Osborne, 24, has yet to make his NLL debut since being taken by the Colorado Mammoth in the sixth round (82nd overall) of the 2019 NLL Entry Draft. He plays in the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL) with the Whitby Steelhawks, where he is currently second in the league in goals (37) and tied for fifth in points (54). He also has 17 assists in 11 games. He played his college lacrosse at Belmont Abbey. In 2019, he was named a USILA Division II Second Team All-American which followed an Honorable Mention All-American nomination in 2018.
SCOUTING THE SEALS
San Diego comes into the matchup as one of the hottest teams in the NLL, having won four of its last five games to move within a half game of the Colorado Mammoth for second place in the West Division standings. The Seals, much like the Knighthawks, are coming off a 13-12 win in their previous matchup, defeating the defending NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks on the road this past weekend. Austin Staats (5+3) and Wesley Berg (1+7), who spent his first three NLL seasons in Calgary, each turned in eight-point efforts while Casey Jackson delivered the game-winner midway through the fourth quarter to cap a five-point night. Jackson, who’s in his second season with San Diego, finished the month of February leading all Seals players in scoring with 20 points (12+8), including a season-high eight-point effort in the 17-10 win over Colorado on Feb. 1. More impressively, Jackson posted back-to-back five-goal games at home for San Diego during the month of February, both resulting in wins. On the heels of a an eight-point showing against his former team, Berg continues to lead the Seals with 33 assists and 50 points while his 17 goals are second behind only teammate Zack Greer. He enters the weekend tied for 11th among league leaders in points and 12th in assists. Berg, who’s played in 65 straight games dating back to his rookie campaign in 2016, also paces San Diego in power-play scoring with 20 (9+11) of his team-leading 50 points coming on the man-advantage this season. The Seals own one of the top scoring defensemen in the league in team captain Brodie Merrill, who’s tied for second among rearguards with 10 assists and ranks fourth with 12 points. A veteran of close to 250 career games over 16 pro seasons, Merrill also ranks fifth amongst all defensemen with 91 loose ball recoveries.
- Holden Cattoni is eight goals away from reaching the century mark in his career.
- Shawn Evans needs six more goals for 450 in his career and just one more to move into ninth all-time in NLL history. He’s also 14 assists away from 800 in his pro career.
- Turner Evans needs seven more assists for 100 in his career.
- Defenseman Jay Thorimbert, who earlier this season became the NLL’s all-time leader in face-off wins, needs two more loose balls for 1,600 in his career.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
Rochester completes its two-game western road swing on Sunday, March 8 when they clash with the Colorado Mammoth in downtown Denver for the only time this season. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. ET start at Pepsi Center and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as B/R Live. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest Knighthawks news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.