As the Rochester Knighthawks (9-7) return from their final bye week, they do so with only one thing in mind: clinching a postseason berth. In order to do that, however, Rochester needs to get back on the winning track after dropping four straight as they go up against arguably the hottest team in the National Lacrosse League right now in the Georgia Swarm.
The club shows a 9-7 overall record, which includes a 5-2 mark at Segar Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The Knighthawks currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and are eyeing their first 10-win season ahead of Saturday’s contest.
We cover all that, and more, in this week’s edition of Hawk Talk with Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey.
A MUCH-NEEDED BYE WEEK FOR THE ‘HAWKS
Having suffered four consecutive defeats, the bye week came at the right time for the team.
“Considering how we have been playing, having a bye week and an opportunity to sit back and take some time away and analyze was a good thing for us,” said Carey. “To be honest, sometimes getting that little bit of a break is good. I think it was a welcome break for us this this past weekend and gives us some energy ahead of this week coming.”
This season, when the Knighthawks had at least one week off in-between games, they responded with a win the following week and outscored their opponents 28-19 with wins over Panther City and New York, respectively.
WIN AND IN (TO PLAYOFFS)
For the last few weeks, the Knighthawks have been on the brink of clinching a spot into the postseason while controlling their own destiny. This week is simple, win and get in.
“To begin the season, if you had said we have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot in one of our last two games, I think we would be excited for that opportunity,” Carey said. “This has been an up-and-down year. This is a great opportunity for us to go into this final stretch of these last two games playing well and hopefully clinch a playoff spot.”
SWEET GEORGIA, SWEEP GEORGIA
The Knighthawks enter Saturday’s contest against Georgia having won the first two meetings of the season series, which includes a 19-18 victory in the previous meeting back on Mar. 12 in what was the highest scoring game in the league this season.
After opening the season with seven straight losses, the Swarm have endured a massive midseason turnaround, winning six straight and eight of their last nine games to vault themselves into playoff contention. Georgia has defeated Albany three times and New York twice over that stretch while also picking up a 17-7 win over Halifax followed by 13-9 victory against Saskatchewan.
“Those guys are playing some unbelievable lacrosse right now,” said Carey about Georgia’s midseason transformation. “They have been on a roll. We have our hands full and again, excited for that opportunity. This is this is a cool time of year, and it should be a lot of fun for our guys.”
Rochester defeated the Swarm 16-11 in the season-opener between the two teams back on Dec. 3.
“There is familiarity. We’ve played each other twice. The first game was our first game of the year, and it seems like forever ago. Then we had that shootout in the high-scoring game last month, so Saturday should be interesting. We are very familiar with each other.”
SCOUTING THE SWARM
Forwards Andrew Kew, Lyle Thompson and Shayne Jackson have carried the Georgia offense as they have combined for 115 goals, 175 assists and 290 points through all 16 games this season.
Kew leads all Georgia players in every offensive category and is fifth in the NLL amongst all players in both goals (43) and points (103). The forward is tied for fifth in the league with 63 assists.
Thompson, a former NLL champion and league MVP, is tied for sixth in the league with 42 goals and ranks eighth in points (98). He is two points away from reaching the century mark for the fourth time in his career and second straight.
Jackson has produced a career-high in both assists (56) and points (86) with a pair of games left.
The Swarm have used the goaltending duo of Brett Dobson (8-5) and former Knighthawk Craig Wende (0-3). Dustin Hill has made three appearances in the goal crease, making five saves in seven minutes.
The Knighthawks look to snap their four-game skid on Saturday, Apr. 22 when they host the Georgia Swarm for the third and final meeting of the season. The 7:00 p.m. faceoff at Segar Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.