On Sunday, the Knighthawks are taking on the Vancouver Warriors for the first and only matchup between the two clubs this season. With face off set for 2:00 p.m. at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena, the franchise is hosting its first-ever Kids Day during the Sunday matinee action.
Reflecting on the Knighthawks previous matchup, it was another back-and-forth offensive battle that came down to the final few seconds of regulation. The Buffalo Bandits scored with just eight seconds remaining to force Rochester’s first overtime effort of the season, before winning in the extra frame to hand the Knighthawks a 16-15 loss last Friday night at KeyBank Center.
Holden Cattoni bested his previous season-high with 10-point effort on the strength of three goals and seven assists to retain the team’s scoring lead while Shawn Evans finished with four goals and eight points – including the go-ahead goal with 1:49 to play – in his return to Buffalo. The two-time NLL MVP also surpassed former teammate John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in assists in NLL history and moved to within eight goals of 450 for his pro career.
“We’re at a point where it’s starting to get a little frustrating for our guys because we feel like we deserve better with our results,” said Knighthawks General Manager Dan Carey. “Ultimately, those are two guys that are competitors, they want to win and they’re not okay with us losing games and that shows in their contributions in how these two are playing for us,” stated Carey when asked about the leadership he’s seen from Cattoni and Evans since the beginning of the season.
Curtis Knight also had a hat trick to go along with two assists and a team-high 14 shots while Steve Fryer and Craig Wende combined for 34 saves in the loss for the Knighthawks, who remain winless on the road this season.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Rochester is taking on a Western Division opponent in Vancouver, who is heading into one of its busiest weekends of the 2019-20 season. Prior to their Friday night face-off against the Bandits, the Warriors are heading into this weekend with a 3-4 overall record and currently are riding a two-game win streak.
In order to stop Vancouver on their current streak, Carey mentions how his squad needs to play as well as they did last Friday, and even better as the Knighthawks are in search of another win.
“They’re a very tough team to play against. They work hard, their goalie is playing really well as of late and I think if we play like we did against Buffalo last Friday then we have a really good chance to win this game.”
After registering their third win of the season over the New England Black Wolves last Saturday night, two of the Warriors top goal-getters are coming into this weekend fresh off of a pair of five-point efforts in Mitch Jones and Keegan Bal. Both Vancouver forwards have combined for 71 points with Jones leading the charge at 41 alone and Bal registering a solid 10 goals on the season so far.
When asked about how to prepare for the upcoming tilt against Vancouver, Carey emphasized focusing on his own roster being just as much prepared physically as they are mentally.
“Prepare. We need to be prepared in our film, we need to be prepared physically and mentally and I think that’s the biggest thing for us. We can’t put too much emphasis on how they’ve played the last couple of games. We just need to prepare and scout them as much as we possibly can and find ways to have success against them.”
A huge key factor in the Knighthawks preparation in hopes of getting another win on Sunday afternoon will be getting past the tight Vancouver defense. Not only has the Warriors defense held its last two opponents to a combined 11 goals, but the guy in the crease has made almost 100 saves in the last two outings. Logging a full 60 minutes in the last two contests that Vancouver has taken the floor, goaltender Eric Penney has combined for 92 saves while taking away back-to-back wins.
Following this Sunday’s matinee matchup, Rochester will have two weeks off before hitting the floor for back-to-back weekends to finish off the month of February. On Saturday, Feb. 22, the Knighthawks will make their one and only trip up to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the New England Black Wolves with face-off slated for 7:00 p.m. Rochester then returns home on Saturday, Feb. 29 to close out the month at 7:00 p.m. when the Knighthawks matchup against the other brand-new NLL franchise this season, the New York Riptide.