On the strength of a seven-goal run to start the second half, the Rochester Knighthawks (1-0) opened their third season in the National Lacrosse League with a decisive 16-11 win over the Georgia Swarm (0-1) at Gas South Arena in Atlanta on Saturday night.
The win marked Rochester’s first victory in franchise history over the Swarm dating back to the Knighthawks’ inaugural 2019-20 campaign and marked the second time in three years that the two teams have opened the season against one another.
With his 11 points last night, Fieldsy set a new single-season franchise record for most points in a game‼️ pic.twitter.com/wGIpumohUN
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) December 4, 2022
Newcomer Connor Fields (4+7) made an immediate impact in his Knighthawks debut, fueling the Rochester offense with a game-high four-goal outing to go with a seven-assist performance, setting the new single-season franchise record for most points in a game. Veterans Curtis Knight (3+3), Holden Cattoni (3+3), and Thomas Hoggarth (3+2) all notched hat tricks while second-year pro Ryan Smith (0+5) posted a five-point night. Rookie Austin Hasen (2+0) posted a two-goal night in his NLL debut, while veteran defender Brad Gillies (1+1) had a two-point effort in his first game with the new-era Knighthawks.
Ethan Schott, Tyler Halls and Dan Coates all recorded one assist each while goaltender Rylan Hartley (1-0) got the first start of the season in the crease, making 45 saves on 56 shots he faced to finish with the win for the Knighthawks.
Georgia forward Shayne Jackson (3+2) led his team with three goals and two assists on the night, while forward Andrew Kew (2+2) and transition player Jeremy Thompson (2+1) both registered two goals. Forwards Lyle Thompson (1+2) and Brendan Bomberry (1+2) both posted three-point efforts before forward Teioshontathe McComber (1+0) and defenseman Adam Wiedemann (1+1) closed out the scoring.
Georgia netminder and former Knighthawk Craig Wende (0-1) got the nod for the Swarm’s first game of the 2022-23 campaign and stopped 39 shots in the loss.
Facing a 9-6 deficit to start the third quarter, Rochester came back from the break and opened the scoring with four-straight goals of its own to grab a 10-6 lead at the 5:26 mark.
Leading the Rochester Knighthawks in their 16-11 win against Georgia?
🥍 4 Goals
🥍 7 Assists
🥍 12 SOG pic.twitter.com/urghSqOKvb
— NLL (@NLL) December 4, 2022
Knight added two goals sandwiching Hoggarth’s first of the season before Fields put the Knighthawks ahead for the second and final time of the game.
While Hoggarth’s goal came in transition, it came as the Knighthawks forward retrieved a pass from Schott. As Hoggarth flew through the neutral zone, he drove the ball right up to the Georgia crease and sent home on a 2-on-1 with Schott.
Just 22 seconds following Hoggarth’s tally, Rochester drew a delayed penalty and issued an extra attacker. After receiving a pass from Smith and Cattoni, Fields capitalized on the opportunity to make it a 10-9 lead heading into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, Rochester closed out the seven-goal run six minutes before J. Thompson would break the Swarm’s 24-minute goal-less drought as he and Jackson, who posted a hat trick on the night, tallied a pair to make it a 13-11 score with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.
The Knighthawks, however, remain unfazed as they scored the final three goals, two of which came while Georgia had its goaltender pulled, to finish off the 16-11 victory.
In the opening minute of the contest, it wouldn’t take long for the Knighthawks to establish what they wanted to get from their first game of the fresh new season.
Following an over-and-back infraction, Knight opened the scoring for Rochester just 36 seconds into the first quarter. With the ball in the left corner, Georgia left the middle of the floor wide open, giving Knight the opportunity to drive through the center of Rochester’s offensive zone for his first goal of the year and of the night.
Four minutes later, Cattoni was up next with his first of the season and his second point of the game as Smith made his way back around the crease, Cattoni was open on the left boards. After retrieving the pass from Smith, Cattoni fled to the center of the field and lasered an over-the-shoulder shot over a group of Georgia defenders and the shoulder of Wende.
For the remainder of the first frame, the teams exchanged a pair of goals each to make it a 4-2 Knighthawks lead after the first.
Hasen’s first of his NLL career came much like Knight’s first of the night, with no Georgia defenders covering the middle of the floor at the 8:31 mark into the game. To the right of Wende, Hasen rocketed the ball in to pull Rochester ahead 3-1.
Rochester would finish up the scoring in the first with Cattoni’s second of the contest and 3:39 left to go in the first.
On an outlet pass from Hartley, Smith retrieved the feed in Rochester’s offensive zone before finding Cattoni open across the floor. The Alberta native once again connected with Smith on the pass and gave the Knighthawks a 4-2 lead heading into the second quarter.
The first of many for Austin Hasen! https://t.co/rrm2AUO6lw
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) December 4, 2022
To open the second stanza, the teams went back to exchanging a pair of markers before Georgia went on a four-goal run that gave them the eventual 9-6 going into the half.
Both Fields and Hasen were the lone Rochester tallies in the second, with Fields’ first as a Knighthawk coming on a rebound from Smith. Fields swooped in to pick up the loose ball and pushed it into the back of the net at the 12:03 mark in the quarter.
Hasen’s second of the night came with the rookie running the ball down the floor. After Hasen perfectly read the Georgia defenders, he ripped a shot right past Wende to end Georgia’s four-goal run at the 4:18 mark.
Georgia then closed out the second quarter with another two tallies to take a 9-6 lead, but Rochester outscored the Swarm 10-2 in the second half to earn the victory.
The Knighthawks return home to host the Toronto Rock on Opening Knight Saturday, Dec. 10 at Segar & Sciortino Field. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be available on Big 107.3 and ESPN+.
ROC: C. Knight (1,2,3), H. Cattoni (1,2,3), A. Hasen (1,2), C. Fields (1,2,3,4), T. Hoggarth (1,2,3), B. Gillies (1)
GA: J. Thompson (1,2), B. Bomberry (1), S. Jackson (1,2,3), A. Wiedemann (1), L. Thompson (1), A. Kew (1,2), T. McComber (1)
ROC: R. Hartley – 46/57 (W)
GA: C. Wende – 39/53 (L)
ROC: PP (0/1) | PK (2/2)
GA PP (0/2) | PK (1/1)