WEEK 17 RECAP
The Rochester Knighthawks climbed within one goal on two separate occasions but were unable to completely close the gap as they dropped their inaugural meeting with the Las Vegas Desert Dogs Saturday at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
Connor Fields paced the Knighthawks offense, factoring in on five of Rochester’s seven goals. The forward scored a pair of goals to go with three assists to lead the team for the 11th time in his last 13, recording his 200th professional point. He also tallied his 13th consecutive multi-goal game and has recorded at least one point in 43 of his 45 games of his NLL career, dating back to his rookie season in 2019-20.
An absolute laser.
Connor Fields now has 87 points on the season 👀 pic.twitter.com/KIDSXz72ea
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 28, 2023
Ryan Smith (2+2) added two goals and a pair assists while Parker Pipher (2+1) finished with a three-point effort in his NLL debut. Holden Cattoni (1+3) and Turner Evans (0+2) both posted multi-point efforts while Austin Hasen and Thomas Hoggarth each notched one assist.
Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (9-5) made his 14th consecutive start between the pipes, stopping 29 shots in the defeat.
Looking ahead, Rochester wraps up the road portion of its schedule this week with a chance to clinch its first-ever playoff berth.
We cover all that, and more, in this week’s edition of Hawk Talk with Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey.
HASEN JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Head coach Mike Hasen joined an exclusive club, becoming just the sixth coach in NLL History to be behind the bench for 200 regular season games. He’s also the only one to have spent his entire coaching career in the same city.
Big congrats to head coach Mike Hasen on coaching his 200th career game tonight 👏 pic.twitter.com/Oa4NCQlp7P
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 26, 2023
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
Despite two consecutive losses by the Knighthawks, the team sits in third place of the East Conference standing heading into week 18.
“At this time of the year, we are playing meaningful games,” said Carey. “To be doing that, it is very important. The lesson for us to learn is anything can be an happen on any given night. We have to be prepared, as prepared as possible.”
“And we should be playing playoff lacrosse right now. There have been times this year, especially early on, that things have gone really well, and as of late, we’ve dealt with some adversity.”
PARKER PIPHER’S PERFORMANCE
Prior to Saturday’s contest in Las Vegas, rookie forward Parker Pipher was added to the active roster from the practice squad, where he spent the first 17 weeks of the season. Pipher, who was Rochester’s 45th overall selection in the 2022 NLL Draft, currently leads the Arena Lacrosse League in scoring with 105 points (38+67) in 13 games with the Toronto Monarchs.
First NLL goal AND second NLL goal all in his NLL debut!
What a game for Parker Pipher 👏 pic.twitter.com/f8zaHWuHzV
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 27, 2023
“Definitely happy for him,” Carey said of his young forward, who finished the contest with two goals and an assist in his NLL debut. “He was flying all over the floor. You could tell he had so much energy and excitement to play, and he wasn’t afraid to make an impact out there. Some guys at times do get a little bit hesitant, but he was shooting the ball.”
WIN AND IN
The Knighthawks can officially punch their ticket into the 2023 NLL Playoffs with a win on Sunday night at Philadelphia.
“To be in this position is great,” Carey said. “We want to make sure that that we are embracing the pressure. This is the time of year where you start to feel pressure and that pressure is earned. For us to be able to go into the last four games of the regular season and have an opportunity to be fighting for a playoff spot, it’s something that we wanted and that was one of our goals is to have that that pressure and the privilege to be able to be fighting for a playoff spot.”
The Knighthawks are looking to snap their two-game skid this Sunday as they travel to Wells Fargo Center for a 6:00 p.m. matchup with the Wings, who took a 9-8 victory by way of overtime back on Mar. 19 in their first meeting of the campaign.
The Wings are 6-8 record on the season but have a win and two losses in their previous three games. Philadelphia has scored 155 goals (11.05 goals for per game) and have allowed 166 (11.86 goals allowed per game) through its first 14 games of the season.
Philadelphia has brought in some significant offensive reinforcements beginning with the off-season addition of perennial goal-scorer Joe Resetarits followed by the midseason acquisition of Mitch Jones by way of a trade from Vancouver.
The duo enter the weekend having combined for 65 goals and 191 points while both remain on pace to the reach 100-point mark by season’s end. Jones also ranks second in the league with a team-high 65 assists.
Resetarits is certainly no stranger to Rochester having spent five seasons with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2015-19, during which he recorded 279 points over 78 career games. He capped off his final full season in 2017-18 in historic fashion, establishing career-highs in goals (37), assists (63) and points (100), becoming the first American-born player to log a 100-point season in league history. He was later selected to the NLL All-Pro Second Team.
Veteran goaltender Zach Higgins has played virtually every minute this season for the Wings, boasting a 6-6 record with an 11.87 goals-against average. Higgins, who is tied fourth among all netminders in saves (532), is coming off a 49-save effort in the first meeting of the season against Rochester.
The Knighthawks close out their two-game road swing as they look for redemption on Sunday, April 2 when they face the Philadelphia Wings at Wells Fargo Center. The 6:00 p.m. face-off will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.