Through the last three games, the Rochester Knighthawks have held their opponents to just 29 goals. On average, a team in the National Lacrosse produces between 10 to 12 goals a game, which means the Knighthawks are holding their opponents to around that lower total and their defense is putting in work.
Including this last weekend against the Halifax Thunderbirds when the Knighthawks defensive effort kept them in the game. Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey commented on how Rochester’s strong defensive effort was what kept them in their back-and-forth 11-7 loss against Halifax on Friday evening.
“They are really clicking right now and not just in our own end. They’re doing really well with the ball, getting it up and handing it over to our offense. It’s definitely our bright spot right now. Our offense is working hard and trying to continue to generate more scoring chances as a result, but our defense has been awesome.”
However, it’s not lost that with an 11-7 score line in favor of Halifax, it’s Rochester’s offense that needs to begin to string things together.
“One of the things we do need to work on as a team is the mental side. If we get down, if we get scored on, then we have to move past that, put it behind us and focus on the next play,” stated Carey when asked how his team can begin to generate more offense.
Looking at the Knighthawks offensive efforts from Friday night, veteran forwards Turner Evans and Holden Cattoni each posted four-point efforts to pace the offense while rookie Charlie Bertrand turned in a three-point night with a goal and two assists. Ryan Smith, Thomas Hoggarth and Mitch Ogilvie all tallied a goal apiece. Joel Watson made his fourth-straight start in the crease for Rochester, making 33 saves in the losing effort.
Overall, Carey felt that the preparation was there and there was never really a moment when the Knighthawks were down and out of the game.
“This was a game where the messaging was there, and the preparation was there as expected. We were very good at the start of the game, and throughout.”
Carey then added, “To be honest, I don’t think there was a lapse where we just didn’t play well. They just started to pull away at the end of the fourth quarter, but throughout the whole game I don’t think there was a point where we were out of it.”
This weekend, the Knighthawks, who will play three of their final four games of the season at home, look to snap their six-game losing streak, this time against the Toronto Rock. Rochester and Toronto have met once before during the 2021-22 campaign, with the Rock taking away a 12-8 win thanks to five-goal run in the second half of the Jan. 29th contest.
Currently, Toronto sits at second in the Eastern Conference with a 10-5 overall record. The Rock are coming off a weekend of back-to-back games with back-to-back wins over the Georgia Swarm and San Diego Seals and Carey knows that’ll be another challenge for the Knighthawks to take on.
“They’re a good, well-rounded team and they run hard. Every week raises a new challenge, so you start to become a little more familiar with these teams. Every team changes each year but with the way that they play and who they are, it’s another good chance to compete with these guys and it’s a test.”
As you go down the Toronto roster, they still have a number of players that we saw on their roster during the 2019-20 season like veteran Dan Dawson and goaltender Nick Rose. However, the Rock’s offensive efforts are led by forwards Tom Schreiber, Dan Craig and Rob Hellyer, all of whom have over 60 points already and have produced 196 points when their numbers are put together.
Despite the standings, Carey feels the preparation is there from his team but they need to adjust accordingly to take on the task of matching up against the Rock this weekend.
“We’ve been playing well. From the film and the preparation from the coaches to the way our guys have been playing on the floor, I think you adjust differently to each team.”
Carey then finished with, “Again, it’s another tough task but I see them as a team that we need to start to put ourselves into that situation and believe that we can compete.”
Rochester returns home this Saturday, April 9 to take on the Rock for the final time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The Eastern Conference showdown gets underway at 7:00 p.m. 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.
Dawson Family Reunion
It will be a family reunion again this weekend in Rochester for the Dawson brothers, but this time as opponents. The siblings have been somewhat of a packaged commodity over their combined 32 years in the NLL, having been teammates numerous times throughout their careers, including six seasons in Rochester with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2013 to 2018. The duo won back-to-back NLL titles in 2013 and 2014 during the organization’s historic run of three straight league championships. Prior to playing alongside one another in Rochester, the Dawson brothers were also teammates in Boston (2009-10) and Philadelphia (2012) and were reunited against most recently during the 2018-19 season in San Diego.
Homecoming for Ierlan
Saturday’s game will also serve as a homecoming for Toronto’s TD Ierlan, who’s currently in his first season with the Rock. Ierlan, who went to the Rock 20th overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, was one of the nation’s top face-off specialists in the history of NCAA Division I lacrosse between five years at the University of Denver, Yale and the University of Albany.
Ierlan, who was also selected by the Redwoods in the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft, is a three-time All-American, a two-time First-Team All-American and was a Tewaaraton Award finalist.