As the Rochester Knighthawks began a new era to kick off the 2019-20 NLL season, an entirely new crew was drafted to take the floor here in the Flower City. With an active roster holding more than 20 players all season, it’s a common trend that teams in the NLL only have two spots for goalies, but for the Knighthawks, that was never the case.
The youngest of three netminders on Rochester’s active roster, Rylan Hartley embarked on his first full meaningful season in the league while experiencing his first pro start and notching his first pro win. The 2019-20 regular season marked just the first of many years we’ll be seeing Hartley display his skillset in the crease, but first let’s take a look back at his top three moments from this past year.
1. WELCOME TO ROCHESTER
Although just 22-years-old, this was not Hartley’s first go-around in the NLL but his first with the expansion-era Knighthawks after being selected by them in the third round of the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft.
Last year Hartley was a member of the San Diego Seals during their 2018-19 campaign but saw no time on the floor. Prior to being selected by the Seals in the second round (15th overall) of the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, Hartley played with the Junior “A” Orangeville Northmen for the past five summers from 2015-19. Hartley led the Northmen to back-to-back berths in the Ontario Finals in 2018 and 2019, the latter of which he led the OLA in wins (16) and saves (550) while finishing third in goals-against average (6.15) and fourth in save percentage (.822). Hartley also backstopped the Northmen to a 2019 Minto Cup title.
Hartley was one of three netminders on the Knighthawks active roster for the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign.
2. GETTING THE GREEN LIGHT
Taking it back to Hartley’s first appearance in the crease, Hartley logged just 4:53 in net back on Jan. 19 when the Knighthawks visited the Philadelphia Wings at the Wells Fargo Center for what would be the young netminder’s professional debut. Following that first appearance, Hartley started in three consecutive tilts before notching his first professional win.
The Knighthawks goaltender earned his first professional start against the Vancouver Warriors back on Feb. 9. Although Hartley didn’t come out with a win on the evening, he made the first overtime appearance of his young NLL career, logging 62:47 between the pipes and making 46 saves on the night.
3. 49 SAVES FOR NUMBER 49
The team’s second win on Feb. 29 over the New York Riptide also brought about the first career win for the Knighthawks’ rookie netminder.
In that 13-12 win over the Riptide, the Hartley made 49 saves on the 61 shots he faced. Coincidental that in his first win he makes the same amount of saves as the jersey number he reps?