A second-quarter surge coupled with a season-high 43-save effort by goaltender Joel Watson propelled the Rochester Knighthawks (4-13) to a convincing 15-7 win over the reigning NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks (9-8) at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena on Friday.
The matchup was the lone meeting between the clubs this season and the first since Rochester defeated the Roughnecks 13-12 in their inaugural meeting back on Jan. 18, 2020.
Rochester’s offensive charge was led by rookie forward Ryan Smith (4+1), who recorded his sixth hat trick over his last 11 games, while veteran forward Curtis Knight (3+1) capped off the night with a four-point effort. Both forwards Thomas Hoggarth (2+1) and Mike Burke (2+1) had two-goal efforts, while defenseman Mitch Ogilvie (1+0) and forward Holden Cattoni (1+2) tallied a goal apiece. Additionally, defensemen Tyler Biles (1+1) and Matthew Bennett (1+1) had their first goals of the season.
Chris Willman and Charlie Bertand both registered a three-assist performance while Dan Coates (0+2) also turned a multi-point night in the win, which snapped an eight-game losing skid for Rochester and also ended Calgary’s five-game win streak, which was the longest in the NLL.
Watson (1-8) made his seventh straight start in the crease for Rochester, and by finishing with a career-high 43 saves, he also earned his first professional win.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Calgary’s offense was highlighted by a seven-point performance by veteran forward Curtis Dickson (2+5), who tallied a point on all seven of the Roughnecks’ goals. Forwards Zach Herreweyers (2+1) and Jesse King (2+2) both turned in two-goal outings, while forward Dan Taylor (1+0) ended the night with his 18th tally of the season.
Entering the game with a five-game winning streak, netminder Christian Del Bianco (9-8) suffered his first loss in six weeks while stopping 32 of the 47 shots he faced.
A back-and-forth opening quarter that saw a combined five goals ended on a buzzer-beating goal by Dan Taylor to give Calgary a 3-2 lead with 0.2 seconds left.
Dickson, Calgary’s leading goal-scorer, factored in on all three Roughnecks goals, the first two of which came on the power-play.
King gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead 2:50 into the contest, sending a long-range shot past Watson on a feed from Dickson.
The rookie tandem of Smith and Bertrand connected less than four minutes later to knot the score at one, but Herreweyers would pick the upper corner through traffic on the man-advantage to restore Calgary’s 2-1 lead at the 9:10 mark.
Rochester countered once again on a tally from Burke, his fourth of the season and third in two games.
The teams appeared to head into the break knotted at two goals apiece, but following a timeout, Dickson found Taylor for a last-second strike prior to the end of the first quarter.
Despite being down a goal to start the second quarter, Rochester quickly turned the momentum in its favor, outscoring the Roughnecks 6-1 during the frame beginning with Biles scoring his first professional goal in transition to open a four-goal run for the Knighthawks.
After forcing a turnover near midfield, Biles, who entered the contest leading the NLL with seven fighting majors and second in overall penalty minutes, corralled a loose ball. The defenseman sprinted the length of the floor before converting on a breakaway for his first professional goal at 1:51.
Bennett followed up with his first goal of the season less than three minutes later after capitalizing on a defensive zone turnover from Del Bianco. The Calgary netminder vacated his crease to gain control of a bouncing ball in the near corner only to having his clearing attempt intercepted by Bennett, who had a wide-open net to give Rochester its first lead of the night.
Back-to-back goals by Knight, including one on the man-advantage, extended the Knighthawks’ lead to 6-3, but Dickson’s first of the contest with 2:40 remaining in the half would temporarily slow down Rochester’s second-quarter surge.
Knight answered 95 seconds later to complete the natural hat trick after Willman found the speedy forward in transition. Cattoni added his first of the night with three seconds to spare to give Rochester an 8-4 cushion going into halftime.
As the second half ensued, the teams would combine for just two goals in the third frame.
Calgary capitalized on its third power-play opportunity 8:54 into the quarter before Burke then completed the scoring in the third with just 50 seconds to go.
With Burke’s second marker of the evening, he gave Rochester a 9-5 lead entering the final 15 minutes of play.
Rochester took its final penalty of the night to start the fourth and King used the extra player to begin the frame and pull the Roughnecks within three just 40 seconds into the quarter.
Rochester responded with its four-goal run of the contest, highlighted by three consecutive markers from Smith. Ogilvie capped off the stretch and Dickson tallied one more point before the night’s end to pull the score within 13-7.
Hoggarth the netted back-to-back goals to cap off the night and give Rochester the 15-7 win.
The Knighthawks close out the campaign next Saturday, April 30 when they host the first-ever visit from the Halifax Thunderbirds in the regular-season finale at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The Eastern Conference matchup gets underway at 7:00 p.m. and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull as well as ESPN+. The contest will also be broadcast live locally on CW Rochester channel 16. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.