The Rochester Knighthawks have played four games in the last three weeks, dropping all four contests since their month-long hiatus. This past weekend as the Knighthawks took on the undefeated Buffalo Bandits, Rochester put up a fourth-quarter rally that came up short by the time the final horn blew.
“It’s been hard to gauge where we are at because of the last few weeks that we’ve played there’s been different circumstances,” Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey started to say when asked how he thought his team kept up with the first-place team in the National Lacrosse League. “The first one we had a five-week layoff, and we played a back-to-back, then we played against Toronto after the back-to-back without our leading scorer and then this weekend we had five players out that were on the COVID/IR list. So, it’s tough to get the gauge as to where we’re at.”
On Saturday night in Buffalo, Knighthawks forwards Shawn Evans and Curtis Knight both recorded six-point outings while also combining for 21 shots for Rochester. 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.
Forwards Holden Cattoni and Mike Burke, who made his season debut with the Knighthawks, both produced a pair of points. Turner Evans, Ryland Rees, Charlie Bertrand and Paul Dawson 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.
Goaltender Rylan Hartley 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.
“I thought Rylan Hartley was fantastic this weekend,” said Carey. “After losing Evan Kirk, it was kind of tough for the psyche of our team and he was a veteran netminder who had some consistency that you could rely on. I think with how well Rylan has played it’s given us some confidence, and it should, because I thought he was fantastic this weekend.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s action, the Knighthawks will once again matchup against the 4-3 Albany FireWolves. Now although Rochester turned in a dominating 16-7 effort over Albany back on Dec. 18, the FireWolves have turned their season around from that point on. After their loss to Rochester, Albany has won four of its last five since and are coming of a weekend split with Georgia.
Despite Albany forward Joe Resetarits, who spent the bulk of his NLL career with the previous Knighthawks organization, turning in a three-goal effort against Rochester in the last meeting, or FireWolves goaltender Doug Jamieson sitting at third in the league with 260 saves or tied for second in league with his four wins, Carey claims that there’s not just one person that the Knighthawks have to look out for on the Albany roster.
“Overall, they just play a solid game, and they don’t have that just one guy that you have to focus on. A lot of the guys that they have on their offense can really step up, they got a good goalie and a good defense and transition. I think they’re just a really well-rounded team that we just have to play well against.”
Rochester’s 16 goals in the previous matchup between the two teams were the most scored in a game in franchise history. Reflecting on the Dec. 18 contest, Carey feels that was the one time this season that his team put everything together to come out with a win.
“Offensively, the ball moved really well. It was going from one side of the floor to another and we were hitting our shots,” said Carey. “The first two games of the season I thought we were continuing to get better and then I thought the game against Albany was the one game we’ve played this year where we put it all together from our goaltending down.”
As the Knighthawks look to take the season-series against the FireWolves this weekend, they’ll head into another bye week right after Saturday’s contest.
Carey mentioned how this matchup is very important for the psychological aspect of heading into a bye with a win, but also the fact that a victory inevitably keeps their playoff hopes alive.
“The psychological aspect of it is definitely important, but I think overall with the league standings, if we want to stay in contention with a playoff spot, then this is a very important game for us.”
The Knighthawks return home looking to reverse their four-game slide this Saturday, Feb. 12 when they host the first-ever visit from the 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+.
MILITARY APPRECIATION KNIGHT
The game falls on Military Appreciation Knight, presented by Veterans Outreach Center. The Knighthawks players will wear special Military-themed jerseys as a tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase the jerseys through an online auction on DASH, a sport-focused online auction platform and partner of the Knighthawks.
To access the auction, fans can visit www.rochesterknighthawks.com/auction or text “DASH” to 66866, click on the download link and install DASH on your mobile device. Fans can then create their own personal profile and select the Knighthawks as their favorite team to start bidding. Fans can start bidding on the Military-themed jerseys beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8 through 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12. Winners will then be contacted directly. Proceeds from the jersey auction will be donated to Veterans Outreach Center.
The Knighthawks are offering all United States Military Veterans, Retired, Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard service members one complimentary ticket to the game with $3 from every purchased ticket through this offer going to the VOC. Additional tickets are available at a discounted rate. Veterans and Military Members can pick up their tickets for the game by visiting the Veterans Outreach Center, located at 447 South Ave. in downtown Rochester or claim online at www.rochesterknighthawks.com/militarymember.
Veterans Outreach Center is the season-long sponsor of the Knighthawks “Hometown Heroes” program, which provides complimentary tickets to a United States Military Veteran, Retired, Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard service member as well as any law enforcement officials, first responders, fire fighters and EMS personnel at every home game.