The Rochester Knighthawks are heading into week four of 10 straight weeks with games after falling 15-12 in a back-and-forth affair against the New York Riptide this past Saturday at Segar & Scriotino Field. Saturday’s contest was the second of three between the two clubs, with the season series now even at 1-1.
“We’re trying to take the positives and the lessons to be learned through each game, but just that narrative and talking about that – at some point it’s got to change,” stated Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey when asked about his team’s overall performance on Saturday.
Carey then continued by saying, “Overall, I thought there were a lot of positives that came from Saturday’s game but it’s frustrating. I think we see this in our group because we believe in our group, we believe in ourselves and we know we can be better, but again, learning from the mistakes and being better because of it.”
Knighthawks forwards Ryan Smith and Turner Evans both collected four points each while forwards Curtis Knight, Holden Cattoni and transition players Ryland Rees and Matt Gilray all turned in a multi-point performance. Smith’s four-point effort was his eighth straight multi-point game dating back to Dec. 11, while defenseman Tyler Halls scored his first professional goal in the third quarter.
Rochester forward Thomas Hoggarth led the Knighthawks with a career-high five goals and six points. His five goals tied a franchise record while he added his fourth multi-goal effort of the season.
“That’s the Thomas Hoggarth that we know and we expect, maybe not to score five goals every game, but he’s a guy that kind of lives in those tough areas. He’s got a really good touch, patient with the ball and a big, strong guy that can put the ball in the net when we need him to. He’s kind of a unique player and there’s not a lot of guys like him around the league. He was big for us on Saturday and that’s what we need. We need guys to step up in certain games.”
Additionally, rookie goaltender Joel Watson posted 37 saves in his first career National Lacrosse League start. Carey thought Watson settled in quite nicely after a little bit of a shaky start.
“Joel Watson making his first start, he definitely had a tough first quarter. I think one of the positives there is that he settled in well and our guys kind of figured out how to play in front of him and we started to inch our way back and put the ball in the net.”
Heading into this weekend, the Knighthawks are heading across the country to take on the Saskatchewan Rush for the lone time during the 2021-22 campaign. Despite starting the season 3-8, the Rush are a team that has a lot of their players around for a solid chunk of time. As Carey knows, no team’s record in the National Lacrosse league is indicative to the product that they’ll put out on the floor.
“They’ve been top of the league for a long time and, I would say, the majority and core of that group is still there. They have a lot of guys that have won multiple championships together on that team. This is a really tough league to win in and I don’t think records are indicative of what the value or quality of a team is. They’re going to be hungry.”
The Rush will feature two top-20 scorers in the league when it comes to forwards Mark Matthews and Robert Church. Matthews is tied for 15th in the league with his 34 assists and 53 points, while Church finds himself tied for 18th with 24 goals and 53 loose ball recoveries. On defense, the Knighthawks will have to inch by players like defenseman Holden Garlent and transition players Mike Messenger and Chris Corbeil, while trying to get the ball past the elite goaltending tandem of Adam Shute or Eric Penney in the crease.
“They got a very good, well-rounded offense that plays a really good game together. Their defense is still big, strong, opposing and athletic – they scrap. They’re a tough defense to gain an inch on, so it’s going to be a good test for us on Saturday.”
The Knighthawks play their first game this season outside the Eastern Conference as they head north of the border this Saturday, March 19 to take on the Rush at SaskTel Centre. The matchup gets underway at 9:30 p.m. ET 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.