This past weekend, the Rochester Knighthawks dropped their eighth straight game, pushing them to 3-13 on the season after the New York Riptide stormed out to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter and never looked back. Last Saturday’s 15-7 loss against New York was the third and final matchup between the teams this season, with Rochester finishing with a 1-2 record against the Riptide.
“This was one where the coaches said, ‘It felt like we were defeated throughout the game like we had already lost,’” said Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey when asked what transpired in the final matchup against New York this past Saturday. “I give our guys credit, we haven’t seen that yet. There’s been some games where we’ve been down early, but a majority of our games we’re either coming from behind and getting ourselves back into the game or we’re competing throughout.”
Rochester’s offense was led by forwards Curtis Knight, Mike Burke, and Thomas Hoggarth, who combined for nine points. Ryan Smith, Holden Cattoni and Turner Evans all racked up two points on the night, while Ryland Rees tallied a goal to complete the scoring. Goaltender Joel Watson made his sixth straight start in the crease for the Knighthawks but suffered the loss as he made 26 saves. Netminder Lukas Coote made his third appearance of the season with Rochester, facing six shots over 11:45 of relief effort.
It’s no secret that this season has been a battle for the Knighthawks. After starting out the year going 2-1 in their first three games, the loss veteran goaltender Evan Kirk to the holdout list, a five-week hiatus, a major offensive trade and just three wins – it’d be easy to throw in the towel with just two games left. However, despite the struggles they’ve faced, Rochester has continued to keep themselves in close games and fight through the adversity.
That’s what makes this group so impressive to Carey, the fact that they’ve made it through an extremely tough season and only once have they shown some sign of frustration.
“It says a lot about who we are. To have played 16 games now and it’s really the only one I can think of. There’s been three or four games where we’ve been down quite a bit from the start but the credit we have to give to our guys is the ability that they’ve shown to stick with it and just go out there and love to compete.”
For the first time in over two years, the reigning NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks return to the Flower City this Friday. The Roughnecks are currently 9-7 on the season and in the third-place spot in the Western Conference. Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Roughnecks have been on a tear as of late, winning their last five games.
“They’re playing very well as a team right now. Talk about willingness to work and earn it, you’re not going to beat these guys if you’re not willing to work as hard as you possibly can.”
Carey then added, “They’re very good on transition, they will run all over you on the floor if you’re not prepared. This is a very difficult test for us.”
Calgary is yet another team in the National Lacrosse League that’s well-balanced from the top to the bottom of their lineup.
Offensively the Roughnecks carry forwards Jesse King and Curtis Dickson, both of whom have combined for 153 points on the year and have tallied at least two points in each and every game. Defensively, Calgary has transition player Zach Currier, who the Knighthawks will have to be aware on the floor at all times and has racked up a league-high 216 loose ball recoveries. Goaltending wise, Calgary will more than likely start netminder Christian Del Bianco, who’s appeared in every game with the Roughnecks this season and carries a 10.79 goals-against average.
Despite the challenges that Calgary presents for the Knighthawks heading into Friday night’s game, Carey feels these final two contests of the 2021-22 campaign will show the true identity of the team in Rochester.
“The next two games will be telling of that and show our identity.”
Carey then finished with, “The message is that we want to continue to improve, and we have two more games that we can continue to battle and benefit from. We’re evaluating right now as to how hard these guys want to play to prove to themselves and each other that they deserve to be here.”
The Knighthawks return home this Friday, April 22 to take on the Roughnecks for the only time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The matchup 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.