Trailing 10-4 entering the fourth quarter, the Rochester Knighthawks (2-5) reeled off four straight goals to put the Buffalo Bandits (6-0) on their heels, but the NLL’s top team was able to survive the late push from Rochester and hold on for an 11-8 win Saturday at KeyBank Center.
Forwards Shawn Evans (2+4) and Curtis Knight (3+3) both recorded six-point outings while also combining for 21 shots for Rochester, which has dropped its last four games. With his first of two goals on the night, Evans, who played two seasons in Buffalo, surpassed Josh Sanderson for ninth all-time in NLL history with 450 career goals.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Holden Cattoni (1+1) and Mike Burke (1+1), who made his season debut with the Knighthawks, both produced a pair of points. Turner Evans (0+3), Ryland Rees (1+0), Charlie Bertrand (0+1) and Paul Dawson (0+1) all found the scoresheet, respectively. Dawson, who had a game-high 16 penalty minutes, became the eighth player in league history to record 500-plus penalty minutes.
WATCH: RYLAN HARTLEY’S SAVE OF THE YEAR
Goaltender Rylan Hartley (1-4) made his fifth straight start in the crease for Rochester. The second-year netminder made a season-high 48 saves, including a jaw-dropping highlight reel save, on the 59 shots he faced but took the loss.
Congratulations on #450, Shawn!
With that goal, Shawn Evans passes Josh Sanderson for NINTH on the all-time goals list. pic.twitter.com/h8tAFMnG1Z
— NLL (@NLL) February 6, 2022
Bandits forward Dhane Smith (4+3) led all scorers with seven points , including a natural hat trick in the opening quarter, to lead the Bandits to their third straight win over the Knighthawks dating back to 2019-20. Kyle Buchanan (2+2) and Tehoka Nanticoke (1+3) each collected a four-point outing while Josh Byrne (2+1) and Chris Cloutier (1+2) both added three points. Steve Priolo and Connor Fields turned in a pair of helpers to earn a multi-assist game for the Bandits, who improved to 6-0 to start the season.
Veteran goaltender Matt Vinc (6-0) registered his sixth win of the season, stopping 38 shots in the contest. In each of his six appearances this season, Vinc has faced 50 or more shots while averaging just over nine goals allowed.
In the first five minutes of the opening quarter, the Bandits stormed out to a 4-0 lead, including a pair of goals from Smith and two assists by Nanticoke.
WATCH: SHAWN EVANS SCORES HIS 450TH CAREER GOAL
Rochester ended Buffalo’s run at the 9:16 mark as Shawn Evans helped setup Rees in front of the Bandits net for his fifth goal of the season, setting a new career-high.
After successfully killing of a goaltender interference penalty to keep the score 4-1, the Bandits capped the scoring in the first quarter when Smith completed the hat trick with just over two minutes to play.
The teams traded back-to-back goals on two separate occasions in the second quarter before Shawn Evans completed the scoring in the half with a pair of goals. Knight would factor in on all three Rochester goals during the frame, scoring once before assisting on back-to-back strikes from Evans.
WHAT A SAVE FROM RYLAN HARTLEY 🤯 https://t.co/lhtGZVvfPQ
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) February 6, 2022
Tempers flared following the half as the intrastate rivals combined for 18 penalty minutes. While the Knighthawks were held off the scoreboard in the third quarter, Buffalo erupted three times in a span of five minutes to take a commanding 10-4 lead going into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
Despite trailing by six goals, Rochester battled back with four straight goals to pull within a pair of markers at the 8:38 mark. Knight once again duplicated his effort from the second by producing three points on two goals and an assist to lead the four-goal run while Shawn Evans chipped in a pair of helpers on Cattoni’s tally and Burke’s first goal of the season with 6:22 to play.
WATCH: MIKE BURKE SCORES HIS FIRST AS A KNIGHTHAWK
Rochester’s comeback attempt would unfortunately come up short, though. Byrne’s second of the game at 10:45 put the Bandits back up by three and Buffalo withstood a final push from the Knighthawks for the remaining 4:15 of regulation to preserve its perfect start to the season.
The Knighthawks return home looking to reverse their four-game slide on Saturday, Feb. 12 when they host the first-ever visit from the Albany FireWolves at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live The Bull 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.