The Rochester Knighthawks returned to action this past Saturday following a three-week layoff against the Halifax Thunderbirds at Scotiabank Centre, their first game since opening night.
The Knighthawks started off the contest strong, holding a one-goal advantage after the first 30 minutes of play before a second-half surge propelled Halifax to its second straight win. Going into the fourth quarter, Rochester was facing a 13-9 deficit before nearly closing the gap and scoring three of the game’s final four goals. The comeback, however, came up just short as the Knighthawks fell to 0-2 on the season after their 14-12 loss.
Despite the loss, Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey felt as if there were many positives to take away from the team’s Saturday night showdown. It seemed to be a step in the right direction for the club with more comfortability, compete level and record-breaking performances while out on the floor.
“I think the chemistry was the difference. Game one we were trying to figure each other out as much as we were trying to figure out our opponent. There is still a learning curve ahead of us, but our chemistry was better which we know is still going to improve,” stated Carey when asked about the major differences he saw from the first game to the second.
It seemed as though the offense began to click and build the confidence that they were looking for back in game one as six players had multi-point efforts. Holden Cattoni paced the Knighthawks with a five-point night (2+3) while Shawn Evans (2+2) and Phil Caputo (1+3) each contributed four points apiece. Curtis Knight, Dan Lintner and Cory Highfield each contributed to the scoresheet twice, and let’s not forget Steve Fryer, who made 30 saves in his Knighthawks debut while in the crease.
The highlight of Saturday’s setback to Halifax came in the third quarter when Knighthawks defenseman Jay Thorimbert recorded his eighth face-off win of the night to surpass Geoff Snider for first all-time in National Lacrosse League history. The 13-year veteran finished the matchup winning 11 of 29 face-offs and now stands alone in NLL history with 2,472 career face-off wins.
Thorimbert may have set a new record in the league this past Saturday, but his ‘team first’ mentality is what makes him the pro that he is according to Carey.
“Jay is a true pro. Getting to know him and how he conducts himself on and off the floor, he deserves the success that he has had in his career.”
With two games here and gone, the Knighthawks are still looking for that first win as a brand-new franchise heading into this weekend’s matchup against the Toronto Rock. Back on Nov. 16, these North Division rivals met in the preseason, ending in a 14-14 tie. Toronto’s Dan Dawson, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, would net his third of the game to put the Rock up 14-13 with under five minutes to play before Shawn Evans provided the equalizer with just 54 seconds left in regulation.
Toronto is coming into this weekend’s matchup having split their first two games of the year. Despite dropping their first game to the New England Black Wolves 12-8, the Rock came back ready to rebound with a 13-6 win over the San Diego Seals this past weekend. This Saturday will mark Toronto’s first divisional game of the 2019-20 campaign in the first half of the home-and-home series against Rochester.
“We are excited to get back on the floor this weekend, but have a tough opponent coming into Rochester. We have to build off of last weekend’s game and be prepared for a tough battle with Toronto,” said Carey when asked about the team’s second consecutive North Division battle.
This weekend marks the first of three matchups between Rochester and Toronto this season and the only one here in the Flower City at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester goes into Saturday night in search of their first win, a battle of the brothers between Paul and Dan Dawson and with a focus of playing consistent and confident lacrosse. Although these two clubs will be meeting back-to-back over the coming weeks, Carey and his squad are focusing solely on the first game at hand before looking ahead to the new calendar year.
Following this weekend, the Knighthawks will make their way north of the border on Saturday, Jan. 11 for a rematch against the Rock at 7:00 p.m. to finish off their home-and-home series at Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.