The Rochester Knighthawks are officially halfway through their 2021-22 National Lacrosse League schedule and currently in the midst of 10 straight weeks of games. As this 10-week run began this past weekend with a 14-8 loss to the league-leading Buffalo Bandits, the Knighthawks are at the point in the season where they’re still trying to find the right amount of chemistry to propel them to wins and fight their way through lulls that may be holding them up at times.
After falling to Buffalo three times during regular season play, Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey feels his team still has some work to do in order to reach the standards of one of the best teams in the league.
“We still have a lot of work to do, obviously. We lost to them three times and they’re a team that has a lot of great players that are playing well together. I think we match up well against them in some areas, but overall, that’s the bar that we have to try and get to. We’re going to continue to work as hard as we can as quickly as possible.”
Rochester forwards Turner Evans and Holden Cattoni both recorded three-point efforts with a goal and an assist apiece, while Charlie Bertrand, Thomas Hoggarth and Matt Gilray provided Rochester’s other tallies on the night. Veteran forward Shawn Evans recorded a multi-assist effort with a pair to bring his season total to a team-leading 34, while goaltender Rylan Hartley made his seventh straight start but suffered the loss while making 35 saves.
Additionally, Knighthawks rookie forward Ryan Smith recorded his second home hat trick of the season while leading the offense with four points with three goals and an assist. Carey feels Smith is finally starting to understand the value that he adds to this Knighthawks roster.
“He’s starting to understand his value to our team and his strengths. He’s a big, strong athlete that can get to the spots that he needs to get to have success. I think defending him would be very difficult knowing that he plays well with his teammates, he’s got good inside and outside presence and he’s able to score from there and he’s got some good vision. As he gets even more comfortable, he’s going to be a very good player for us.”
Heading into another week of action, the Knighthawks once again take on an opponent that they’ve already seen this season in the Georgia Swarm. As always, this is yet another important matchup with Georgia having one more win over Rochester with a 4-6 record to start off the year and sitting at sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.
Georgia’s offense is led by forward Lyle Thompson, who has 27 goals and 60 points on the season, both of which are tied for second and third in the league, respectively. Additionally, forwards Shayne Jackson adds some offensive fire power with his 20 goals and 22 assists on the season, while transition player Brendan Bomberry has racked up 35 points and 45 loose ball recoveries.
“They’ve definitely got some offensive weapons there, they’re really good in transition and they’re a big, strong team overall. I think collectively they’re a really good team and Lyle is definitely a leader on their offense, I’m sure on their team as a whole, but you can’t just focus on one guy. There’s a lot of other guys around him that can make you pay if you don’t know where they’re at on the floor.
Last time out against Georgia, Carey admitted that it wasn’t Rochester’s best effort of the season. The team was coming off a five-week hiatus with a number of players out, so this time should fare a lot different considering the full roster that the team will be traveling with.
“It definitely helps, coming off a win or loss. No matter what it is the repetition and knowing that we should be sharp with our sticks and what we’re doing and how we’re playing together.”
Carey then went on to finish, “We have a shorter turnaround playing a Friday game, so I think that’s a great opportunity for us to turn it around. Again, we’re at 3-6 now, and if you look at the standings Georgia is just one win ahead of us. It’s one game at a time and this is a big game for us to be able to stay within that area of the standings if we want to be competing for a playoff spot.”
The Knighthawks are back in action on Friday, March 4 as they travel south to wrap up their season series against Lyle Thompson and the Georgia Swarm at Gas South Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Bull 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.