This Saturday, the Rochester Knighthawks make their one and only trip up to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the New England Black Wolves with face-off slated for 7:00 p.m. The new Knighthawks are still in search of their second victory of the season, coming just seconds away from a win in their last two outings but falling in overtime each time.
On Feb. 9 against Vancouver, it was the second straight game that the Knighthawks surrendered a late goal in the final seconds of regulation before the Warriors completed the comeback for an 11-10 win in overtime at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.
Following the Sunday matinee in Rochester, Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey mentioned just how heartbreaking the last couple of games have been for him and his first-year squad.
“It’s been back-to-back heartbreaking games for us. Last Sunday was a little bit of a shock for us knowing that two weeks in a row we lost those games the way that we did. Over the last few games there’s definitely a lot that we have to address and need to get better with.”
Holden Cattoni led the Knighthawks with an eight-point effort on the strength of two goals and six assists to retain the team’s scoring lead while Shawn Evans finished with six points (2+4). The two-time NLL MVP, who two weeks ago passed former teammate John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in assists in NLL history, is now within six goals of 450 for his pro career.
Phil Caputo notched his first hat trick of the season on his way to a four-goal night while Cory Highfield (1+1), Turner Evans (1+1) and Curtis Knight (0+2) all recorded a pair of points, including Evans’ go-ahead goal with 54 seconds to play.
“Phil has been pretty consistent for us this year; he does a lot of good things for us. “He’s a workhorse, he understands the game very well, he’s got a good IQ and he’s a big, strong body that makes room for guys and he’s capitalized in most of our games this year,” explained Carey when asked about the consistency that he’s seen from Caputo out on the floor.
Rookie netminder Rylan Hartley made 47 saves in the crease, including 30 in the second half, but suffered the loss. Carey made sure to express the positives that he saw within the young netminder’s first professional game against the Warriors.
“For his first professional start, I thought he was pretty solid, and I think we’re going to see quick improvements with him. He’s a really competitive kid, loves the game of lacrosse, loves taking shots at practice and he wants to get better.”
Looking ahead to this week’s matchup, the Knighthawks are taking on the New England Black Wolves, who are currently sporting a 4-3 overall record. New England started the 2019-20 campaign strong, going 4-0 before losing three straight. Their first loss of the season came to the Georgia Swarm back on Jan. 26 in overtime fashion. New England suffered its second defeat just five days later before coming up short to the Philadelphia Wings this past Saturday night to fall to third in the East Division standings.
“New England is a well-rounded team. They’ve got a good defense, they’re well coached and their offense moves the ball well. They’re going to be a difficult team to play and we have to be well prepared,” stated Carey when asked how his team can prepare when looking at the tilt that lies ahead.
Callum Crawford leads the offensive charge for New England with 43 points on the season so far and six of those coming from his last game out against the Wings. Not too far behind are fellow forwards Joe Resetarits, Andrew Kew and Stephan Leblanc, all of whom combined make up 80 points of this team’s total offense this season.
In the crease, the Knighthawks will more than likely see New England’s starting netminder Doug Jamieson. The fourth-year pro has seen time in all seven tilts for the Black Wolves this season, logging 423:39 in the crease over that span. Jamieson has made 296 saves in net, helping lift himself and his team to their 4-3 record. He enters the week ninth among NLL goaltenders with 299 saves.
As Rochester heads to the Mohegan Sun Arena this Saturday night, it will be the final game of a six-game homestand for the Black Wolves and Carey noted how his team needs to prepare the same no matter where they’re facing off against their East Division opponent.
“Sometimes it’s nice, but then other times you may be a little too comfortable in a certain setting. I’m not going to look at them being home for the last six games as an advantage. We have to prepare for New England whether it’s a home or a road game the same way.”
Following this Saturday’s matchup against the Black Wolves, Rochester returns home on Saturday, Feb. 29 when they host the New York Riptide at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time between the NLL’s two expansion franchises is slated for 7:00 p.m.