TODAY’S GAME OVERVIEW
The 4-0 Rochester Knighthawks look for their fifth straight win this afternoon on Long Island with an intrastate showdown against the New York Riptide (0-3) at Nassau Veterans Coliseum. The 3:00 p.m. matinee will be the first of two 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|
|KNIGHTHAWKS PLAYER BIOS||2022-23 NLL STANDINGS|
|2022-23 RIPTIDE STATS||2022-23 KNIGHTHAWKS STATS|
|WATCH ON ESPN+||LISTEN LIVE ON BIG 107.3 FM|
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Today’s matchup features a tale of two teams as the first-place Knighthawks, undefeated through their first four games of the season, take on a struggling Riptide team in search of its first win. Rochester is 2-2 all-time against the Riptide dating back to its inaugural season despite New York having the upper hand in the 2021-22 season series. The intrastate rivals alternated wins over the course of the campaign beginning with a 13-12 overtime win for the Knighthawks to open the season before the Riptide responded with back-to-back victories, including an 11-7 triumph in the teams’ most recent get-together back on April 16. The Knighthawks and Riptide, who both joined the league as expansion franchises prior to the 2019-20 season, had two of the NLL’s top three scoring rookies last season in Jeff Teat of New York and Ryan Smith of Rochester. Teat, the first overall selection in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, led all rookies in scoring as part of a remarkable record-setting breakout season while Smith, who was taken third overall that same year, finished second among all first-year players in goals and third in points. Both teams come into the matchup ranked among the top three power-play units in the league. The Riptide have gone 8-for-14 on the man-advantage this season, good for a 57.1% conversion rate that is second-best in the NLL behind only Saskatchewan. Rochester, meanwhile, boasts a 55.6% success rate after scoring five times on nine power-play opportunities through its first four games. The teams will reconvene on Saturday, Feb. 25 when the Riptide make their only visit of the season to Rochester.y
HASEN CHASING HISTORY
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 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 91 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.
LAST TIME OUT
Four goals each from Holden Cattoni and Thomas Hoggarth were the driving force behind a dominating performance for the Knighthawks, who continued their perfect start to the season with a record-setting 17-9 win over the Panther City Lacrosse Club last Saturday at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. By winning their fourth straight, the Knighthawks tied their franchise record for wins in a season and their 17 goals were the most ever scored in a single game in their three-year history. Cattoni added five assists for a team-high nine points, falling one point shy of tying his franchise record of 10 points, while Curtis Knight followed up with an eight-point night, including a team-best seven assists. The game also featured a total of eight different goal-scorers with Ryan Smith (3+2) and Matt Gilray (2+2) rounding out the scoring. A few weeks removed after setting the single-game franchise record for face-off wins, Tyler Halls turned in another impressive effort at the center dot, going 13-for-26. Thomas Vela, the team’s 25th overall pick in this year’s NLL Entry Draft, made his highly anticipated professional debut, recording an assist, and goaltender Rylan Hartley made 41 saves in his fourth straight start of the campaign to improve to 4-0. Hartley and Rochester’s defense never allowed more than three goals in a quarter and his 41-save effort marked the second time over his last three starts in which Hartley kept the opposition to less than 10 goals.
FIELDS TAKING FLIGHT
Connor Fields is expected to return to the lineup this afternoon after missing Rochester’s previous contest against Panther City. Following another impressive performance in Rochester’s win over Albany prior to the holiday break, Fields enters the weekend ranked seventh in the NLL in scoring with 25 points and is tied for fourth in goals (12) and 17th in assists (13). He’s also tied for league lead with two game-winning goals. By averaging eight points per game through his first three games of the season, including four goals in each, Fields is on pace to shatter his career-high mark of 67 points he set last season with the Buffalo Bandits and can likely finish the campaign with more than 140 points. 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 33 of his 35 career NLL games.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
Much of Rochester’s early season success can be attributed to the increase in offensive production from its defensemen and transition players combined with the steady and consistent goaltending of Rylan Hartley. After setting the single-season franchise record for assists by a defenseman in 2021-22, veteran Dan Coates is off to another productive start this season with three points (1+2) in his first four games, including a goal in the win over Albany on Dec. 17. Tyler Halls, meanwhile, is assembling what could be a career-year for the second-year defenseman. After securing a full-time roster spot last season, Halls has emerged as one of the Knighthawks’ most reliable and versatile assets among the team’s defensive core. In addition to his offensive contributions, Halls recently cemented his status as the team’s primary face-off specialist having gone 41-for-96 at the center dot this season, good for a .43% success rate. He recently established the new single-game franchise record for most face-off wins following his 18-win performance in Rochester’s win at Albany on Dec. 17, besting the 17 originally set by Jay Thorimbert and later matched by Chris Willman during the team’s inaugural campaign in 2019-20. His 41 face-off wins rank fifth in the NLL while his four assists are tied for second-most amongst all defensive players. Additionally, he’s tied for 14th overall in the NLL with a team-high 31 loose ball recoveries. Hartley has been the main catalyst to Rochester’s perfect start to the season. Through four starts, Harley leads the NLL in wins (4) and saves (165) and is tied for third in minutes played (240). He also owns the best goals-against average (10.00) among all qualified goaltenders and is fourth with a .800 save percentage. Offensively, he’s recorded two assists and 17 loose ball recoveries.
SCOUTING THE RIPTIDE
New York, playing its fourth of a season-long four-game homestand to begin the season, comes into the matchup winless through its first three games. After opening the season with a narrow 15-14 loss to San Diego, the Riptide have been outscored 35-18 in their last two matchups. Despite the team’s early season struggles, New York, which recently parted ways with General Manager Jim Veltman, returns its top two point-getters from last season in reigning NLL Rookie of the Year Jeff Teat and four-time NLL All-Pro Callum Crawford. Teat picked up right where he left off following his record-setting season in 2021-22 and currently leads the Riptide in all offensive categories in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20) while ranking among the league’s top scorers. Teat took his first season in the NLL by storm, finishing with 108 points on 37 goals and 71 assists in 16 games after being selected first overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft. Teat, the son of Dan Teat, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, finished fourth overall in the NLL in points, and third overall in assists, while leading all rookies in goals, assists, points and power-play assists. The rookie also broke single-season NLL rookie records in points and assists and became the first rookie in league history to score 100 points in a season. Teat, an All-League Second Team and All-Rookie Team selection, became the second Riptide player to be named Rookie of the Year, after Tyson Gibson won the award in the 2019-20 season. Crawford, New York’s other offensive weapon, has in recent years established himself as one of the NLL’s perennial point-getters. Crawford, who’s in his second season with New York after leading the NLL in scoring during the 2019-20 season as a member of the New England Black Wolves, is currently fourth on the team in scoring with five points (3+2) despite missing one game. The Riptide also return goaltender Steve Orleman from last season. Orleman, who earned a selection to the All-Rookie Team alongside Teat, broke the NLL rookie record for minutes and finished fifth overall with just under 987 minutes played and sixth overall in saves (656).
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
The Knighthawks return home on Friday, Jan. 20 for an Eastern Conference showdown against the Buffalo Bandits at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:30 p.m. contest will be the first of two scheduled meetings between the intrastate rivals this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.