WEEK 16 RECAP
Week 16 of the 2022-23 National Lacrosse League season saw the Rochester Knighthawks fight their way back from a 6-3 deficit only to fall 9-8 in the first minute of overtime to the Philadelphia Wings this past Sunday afternoon at Segar and Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.
The home loss, Rochester’s first of the campaign after posting a franchise-best 5-0 start inside the Flower City, denied the Knighthawks of securing their first 10-win season in franchise history. At least for now.
Connor Fields factored in on 6 of our 8 goals last night with 2 goals and 4 assists 👏 pic.twitter.com/bXrWgabn3r
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 20, 2023
Connor Fields paced the Knighthawks offense, factoring in on six of Rochester’s eight goals. In addition to scoring his 39th and 40th goals of the campaign, Fields established a new franchise-record for assists (42) in a season as he tallied four in the contest. He now holds the single-season franchise marks for points, goals and assists, all of which were captured over three consecutive weeks.
Holden Cattoni (2+2) and Ryan Smith (2+1) each scored twice while Thomas Hoggarth (1+2) finished with a three-point effort. Austin Hasen, Dan Coates and Ryland Rees all chipped an assist while Turner Evans (1+0) rounded out the scoring.
Turner Evans doin’ it ALL…and finishing with a BEAUTY of a behind-the-back shot pic.twitter.com/wZHPxLlARz
— NLL (@NLL) March 19, 2023
Looking ahead, the Knighthawks make their first trip to Las Vegas for their inaugural meeting with the expansion Desert Dogs where head coach Mike Hasen will join elite company.
We cover all that, and more, in this edition of Hawk Talk with Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey.
Another game. Another one-goal game.
Sunday’s overtime was loss the fourth straight game decided by one goal and the second of which went beyond regulation. In all, it was the fifth game this season decided by a single goal.
“I think we were a little flat to start the game,” said Carey when asked how the game was from his perspective. “I don’t know if we ready for them. I thought we played a great second half, but I don’t think we that compete that we’ve had throughout the season.”
HARTLEY, DEFENSE CONTINUE TO IMPRESS
Goaltender Rylan Hartley (9-4) posted another strong effort in the crease for the Knighthawks as he made 45 saves in the defeat against Philadelphia, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Hartley also tallied an assist on Fields’ second-quarter goal and finished the night surpassing the 1,000-save mark for his pro career.
Rylan Hartley is simply unreal.
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 22, 2023
“Hartley has been the backbone of our team all year and the defense has been phenomenal in front of him,” Carey said. “I thought they had a great game against a tough team that has been playing well lately. Our defense kept us in the game Sunday and gave us a chance to win.”
HEADING TO THE DESERT
For the first time in franchise history, the Knighthawks travel to the Michelob Ultra Arena for a 10:30 p.m. ET contest against the Las Vegas Desert Dogs on Saturday, March 25.
In their first season as the NLL’s newest expansion team, the Desert Dogs are 4-8 on the season and on the downside of a three-game skid. Vegas has scored 125 goals through its first 12 games, which ranks third fewest in the league.
Forward Rob Hellyer, who spent his first 10 seasons with the Toronto Rock, paces all Vegas players with 47 assists and 64 points while Zack Greer (23) and Jack Hannah (21) rank first and second on the team in goals, respectively. Former Knighthawks Charlie Bertrand (15+20) and John Wagner (5+4) have appeared in 11 and nine games for the Desert Dogs. Joel Watson is 0-2 while making 51 saves.
In support of the @vegasdesertdogs Tucker Out Lymphoma Night on Saturday, the Knighthawks will be wearing some very special jerseys 💚
These jerseys are up for auction now and proceeds will be donated to organizations that benefit childhood cancer causes #BraverThanBrave
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 21, 2023
Williams, who was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2021, spent 10 of his 17 pro seasons with the original Knighthawks from 2002-2011. He posted his best season with Rochester in 2004 when he finished third in the league in goals (45) and eighth in points (81) on his way to earning NLL First Team All-Pro honors. A six-time NLL All-Star, Williams led the Knighthawks to the 2007 Champion’s Cup after a 91-point campaign during the regular season. He retired following the 2014 season ranked eighth on the NLL’s all-time scoring list with 1,152 points over 257 career games.
“Shawn is an extremely respected individual from not only his opponents but his peers and most definitely his players in the locker room,” Carey said. “He is one of the best people in this sport, we know his team is going to play hard. They are going to have a strong culture on their team.”
“It is going to be a tough test for us.”
HASEN SET TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY
This Saturday, Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen will be behind the bench for his 200th game, a feat only four others in league history have accomplished.
One of the most decorated coaches in league history, Hasen is certainly no stranger to Rochester, having previously served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2019. In nine seasons behind the bench with the original Knighthawks, the Toronto native guided Rochester to an 81-75 regular season record while leading the team to six playoff appearances.
Hasen also remains on pace to become just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins, having recently surpassed legendary head coach Les Bartley for sixth all-time following the win over Halifax on Feb. 11. With a 96-103 career coaching record, Hasen is set to become just the fifth head coach in league history to have coached 200 professional games and the second this season, joining Georgia’s Ed Comeau, who previously served as head coach of the original Knighthawks franchise.
“From day one, he has been so committed,” Carey said. “He’s a guy that is respected and that’s earned. He’s a guy that had a great playing career but has then stepped into a coaching role and has a had a lot of success.”
The Knighthawks embark on a two-game road swing beginning on Saturday, Mar. 25 with the first-ever meeting with the Desert Dogs. The 10:30 p.m. ET. faceoff from Michelob Ultra Arena will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.