With every week that passes, another game gets marked off the Rochester Knighthawks’ 2021-22 regular-season schedule in the National Lacrosse League. This past weekend, a second-half surge by Rochester unfortunately was not enough to come back from a seven-goal deficit against the Philadelphia Wings as they fell 12-8 to push their overall record to 3-10 on the year.
“Obviously, we would like to see our guys score three more goals,” commented Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey when asked about the offensive production from his team. “I think that was a game that was hard to get momentum because of how many penalties we had. When you’re in the penalty box, you’re short manned. and you’re playing that four-on-five and you’re not getting that consistent flow and chemistry that you need.”
Tempers flared early on when Rochester defenseman Tyler Biles confronted Philadelphia forward Ben McIntosh just 18 seconds following the opening face-off, presumably stemming from an incident in the previous meeting between the two teams back in January. McIntosh chose not to engage Biles, resulting in the latter receiving a five-minute major as well as a game misconduct for being the aggressor.
“There’s that kind of sour taste in your mouth and guys don’t forget things. What I do like is the fact that guys stick up for themselves and their teammates. I think that always goes a long way,” stated Carey when asked if that was how he expected the contest to begin. “Tyler is a tough guy and there were things that happened in that first game that apparently he didn’t like.”
As a result, the Knighthawks afforded the Wings an extended power-play opportunity and they would capitalize, scoring three times on the man-advantage in less than a minute to storm out to an early 3-0 lead.
Rochester’s offensive efforts were led by forwards Ryan Smith and Thomas Hoggarth both contributing two goals, while forward Curtis Knight finished with a team-high four points. Turner Evans had a three-point night with one goal and two assists, while Charlie Bertrand and John Wagner both notched a goal apiece. Additionally, goaltender Joel Watson made his third straight start in the crease for Rochester, making 39 saves while also adding an assist on the night for his first NLL point. Additionally, newcomer Lukas Coote made his Rochester debut at the end of the contest, seeing 1:59 in the net and facing one shot.
This week, the Knighthawks are headed back on the road to take on the Halifax Thunderbirds for the first time this season. Currently, Halifax, which served as the previous Knighthawks franchise for more than two decades prior to its relocation to the Canadian Maritimes ahead of the 2019-20 season, is tied for second in the Eastern Conference with an 8-5 record and are coming off back-to-back 16-11 losses to the Buffalo Bandits this past weekend. Buffalo’s weekend sweep of Thunderbirds allowed them to become the first NLL team to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Carey knows that Halifax comes into this weekend’s matchup looking to get back on track as they’ve lost their last four contests dating back to an 8-7 setback against Albany on March 11.
“They’re a very solid team and they’re tied for second in the East. They’re going to be hungry; they’ve now lost four in a row and they’re going to be looking to get back on track against us.”
Offensively, the Knighthawks will see forward Shawn Evans on the opposite side of the floor since sending the former two-time NLL MVP to Halifax earlier this month. Evans ranks fourth in the league with his 49 assists and his 61 points lead the Thunderbirds and are tied for 16th. Additionally, forwards Clarke Petterson, Cody Jamieson and Austin Shanks have combined for 138 points on the season, while defensemen Jake Withers ranks second in the league with 155 loose ball recoveries and has a 68.7 face-off wins percentage. More than likely Rochester will face goaltender Warren Hill in the crease who has a 7-4 record in his 12 games and a 9.95 goals-against average.
Carey says that with the pride that they have in the Knighthawks organization this is just another game where they’ll want to try and come out at their best while continuing to improve each game.
“That pride that we want and have within our organization, no matter who we’re playing, we want to make sure that we’re at our best and continuing to get better.”
Carey then went on to finish with, “If we’re confident and keep that optimism, this is another great opportunity for us to start to put it all together.”
Rochester heads north of the border again for the second time in three weeks this Friday, April 1 to take on the Thunderbirds at Scotiabank Centre. The Eastern Conference showdown gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET 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.