TONIGHT’S GAME OVERVIEW
The Rochester Knighthawks (3-11) look to snap out of their six-game slide tonight as they welcome the six-time NLL champion Toronto Rock (10-5) to Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena for the only time this season. The Eastern Conference matchup gets underway at 7:00 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 ROCK STATS||2021-22 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|2021-22 NLL STANDINGS||LISTEN LIVE ON 107.3 FM THE BULL|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
The Knighthawks look to avoid the season sweep at the hands of the Rock, who used a five-goal run in the second half to come away with a 12-8 win in the previous matchup between the two teams back on Jan. 29 at FirstOntario Centre. Ryan Smith, Curtis Knight and Turner Evans all earned five points apiece on two goals and three assists to lead the offense while Shawn Evans, who has since been dealt to Halifax, notched two power-play markers to complete the scoring for Rochester. 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. Tom Schreiber paced the Toronto offense with his six-goal effort, the most by a Knighthawks opponent this season, while forward Rob Hellyer finished with seven assists, including one on five of Schreiber’s six tallies. Dan Dawson (3+2) turned in a three-goal performance, while Dan Craig (2+3) registered two goals and three assists. Zach Manns (1+3) began and ended the scoring as part of a four-point night. Veteran netminder Nick Rose improved to 3-2 on the year as he stopped 45 shots in the win. Toronto, which became just the second team this season to clinch a playoff berth following Buffalo, have been among the top offensive teams all season. Entering the weekend, the Rock have scored the third-most goals (171) through their first 15 games. Conversely, anchored by the goaltending of Rose, Toronto has allowed the second-fewest goals-against in the NLL (143) and remain one of two teams averaging less than 10 goals-against per game. Both teams rank among the top six in shooting with the Rock pacing the entire league with 814 shots, averaging close to 55 shots per game. Both teams have outscored the opposition in the second quarter this season, including a 17-goal differential for the Rock in the frame, and each have winning records when leading after the third quarter. Toronto boasts a perfect 10-0 record when carrying the lead into the final frame, including a 4-0 mark on the road, but like the Knighthawks, are winless when trailing after three.
WATCH: TONIGHT’S FACE-OFF FIRST LOOK
LAST TIME OUT
Despite a strong defensive effort from the Knighthawks last Friday night, the Halifax Thunderbirds would ultimately prevail on the strength of a six-goal second half to hand Rochester an 11-7 loss in a back-and-forth affair between the Eastern Conference rivals at Scotiabank Centre. Turner Evans (2+2) and Holden Cattoni (1+3) each posted four-point efforts to pace the offense while rookie Charlie Bertrand (1+2) turned in a three-point night with a goal and two assists. Ryan Smith (1+0), Thomas Hoggarth (1+0) and Mitch Ogilvie (1+0) all tallied a goal apiece with Ogilvie’s tally marking the first of his pro career. Curtis Knight also finished with an assist, giving him 400 career points. Goaltender Joel Watson (0-4) made his fourth fourth-straight start in the crease for Rochester, making 33 saves in the losing effort.
KNIGHTHAWKS ROOKIES TAKING FLIGHT
The Knighthawks come into the weekend owning two of the NLL’s top scoring rookies in forwards Ryan Smith and Charlie Bertrand, who have combined for 77 points (37+40) in what has proven to be a rather seamless transition to the indoor game. Smith, Rochester’s third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, has taken his first NLL season by storm and has evolved into one of the league’s elite point-getters. After scoring his 25th goal of the season last weekend in Halifax, Smith comes into the matchup tied for second among all first-year players in goals while his 46 points are also third-most behind only Jeff Teat of the Riptide and Patrick Dodds of Panther City. Smith, who became just the third rookie this season to reach the 40-point mark, is also seventh with 21 assists. Additionally, Smith, the most decorated player to come out of Robert Morris University, has the second-most power-play points among all league rookies with 15, which includes a team-high and franchise record eight power-play goals. Smith, who was named the NLL’s Rookie of the Week for the second time this season following his season-high nine-point performance in Week 14, has recorded multi-goal efforts in nine of his last 11 games and has five hat tricks over that span, including four of his last seven. His 107 shots are also second-most among rookies behind only Teat. Bertrand, meanwhile, remains at a close second 31 points (12+19), good enough for seventh among all first-year players coming into the weekend. A three-time NCAA National Champion, which includes back-to-back titles at the University of Virginia, Bertrand has goals in five of his last six appearances and has recorded at least one point in all 14 games this season. He remains tied for the league lead among all rookies with two shorthanded goals while his 19 assists rank eighth-most in that category. He’s tied for seventh among all rookies with 12 goals.
DAWSON FAMILY REUNION
It’s a family reunion again tonight in Rochester for the Dawson brothers, but this time as opponents. The siblings have been somewhat of a packaged commodity over their combined 32 years in the NLL, having been teammates numerous times throughout their careers, including six seasons in Rochester with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2013 to 2018. The duo won back-to-back NLL titles in 2013 and 2014 during the organization’s historic run of three straight league championships. Prior to playing alongside one another in Rochester, the Dawson brothers were also teammates in Boston (2009-10) and Philadelphia (2012) and were reunited against most recently during the 2018-19 season in San Diego. Since going their separate ways prior to the 2019-20 season, Dan and the Rock have maintained the upper-hand, going 3-0 against Paul and the Knighthawks in their three reunions since.
HOMECOMING FOR TORONTO’S IERLAN
Tonight’s game will serve as a homecoming for Toronto’s TD Ierlan, who’s currently in his first season with the Rock. Ierlan played his high school lacrosse at Victor, where he was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American selection and led the Blue Devils to their first two of five straight Section V championships as well as back-to-back New York State titles in 2015 and 2016. He, along with younger brother Chayse, a three-time First Team All-Greater Rochester selection and the 2018 All-Greater Rochester Male Athlete of the Year, remain the only pair of siblings to earn US Lacrosse All-American honors in back-to-back years and are one of just three Victor players in program history to earn the honors multiple times. Ierlan, who went to the Rock 20th overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, remains one of the nation’s top face-off specialists in the history of NCAA Division I lacrosse between five years at the University of Denver, Yale and the University of Albany. Ierlan, who was also selected by the Redwoods in the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft, is a three-time All-American, a two-time First-Team All-American and was a Tewaaraton Award finalist.
SCOUTING THE ROCK
The Rock come into the matchup winners of two straight after doubling up the San Diego Seals in a 14-7 win at home last weekend to join the Buffalo Bandits as the only two teams with at least 10 wins on the season. The win, Toronto’s fifth straight in which they held the opposition to fewer than 10 goals, secured the Rock a playoff berth for the 18th time in 22 years dating back to the 1999 campaign. Toronto returns its core four from the 2019-20 season in forwards Tom Schreiber, Dan Craig, Rob Hellyer and Dan Dawson, who collectively make up on of the most dynamic offensive units in the NLL. Schreiber has picked up right where he left off from the previous season, leading the Rock with 39 goals and 69 points in 13 games this season. The former NLL Rookie of the Year trails only Georgia’s Lyle Thompson in goals while his 69 points place him 12th in scoring among the league’s top point-getters. A former two-time Major League Lacrosse MVP and two-time PLL Midfielder of the Year, Schreiber also ranks second in the league in power-play goals (11) and fourth in shots (154). Craig remains at a close second with 64 points while Hellyer is tied for 10th in the NLL with a team-high 45 assists. Dawson, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization and a seven-time NLL All-Pro selection, earlier this season moved into second all-time in the NLL in scoring with 1,447 career points, surpassing John Grant, Jr. on his second point of the night in Toronto’s 14-13 overtime loss to Halifax on Jan. 15. Dawson, who reached the milestone while appearing in his 300th career NLL game, is one assist away from becoming the NLL’s all-time leader with 935, passing John Tavares. Toronto also has one of the top scoring defensemen in Challen Rogers, who ranks third in goals (13), fourth in assists (24) and fourth in points (37). Ierlan has continued his dominance at the face-off dot this season, leading all rookies and ranking fourth overall with 199 face-off wins along with a 61.8% success rate. He’s also second among all first-year players with 92 loose ball recoveries. Rose has again been a mainstay all season long for Toronto. The veteran netminder is tied for second in the league in goals-against average (.932) and wins (10), third in minutes (830), fifth in save percentage (.792) and seventh in saves (490). Rose needs just 21 more saves to pass Brandon Miller for eighth on the NLL’s all-time saves list with 5,095.
- Holden Cattoni needs three more points to reach 300 in his pro career.
- Evan Kirk needs seven wins to pass Steve Dietrich for 10th on the all-time wins list with 66.
- Mitch Ogilvie scored his first pro goal at Halifax on April 1.
- Curtis Knight recorded his 400th pro point with an assist at Halifax on April 1.
- Tyler Halls scored his first pro goal against New York on March 12.
- Thomas Hoggarth recorded his 100th pro point on his third goal of the night in the 15-12 loss against New York on March 12.
- Paul Dawson became the eighth player in NLL history to reach 500 penalty minutes on Feb. 5.