The Rochester Knighthawks (2-2) went goal for goal with the Georgia Swarm (2-3) for three straight quarters, but a slow start in the opening frame ultimately proved to be the difference in a 12-8 loss Friday at Segar and Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.
It was Rochester’s first game back following a month-long layoff and the first of a two-game weekend for the Knighthawks, who fall to 2-2 on the season heading into Saturday’s matchup in Philadelphia.
Charlie Bertrand (1+1) scored Rochester’s first goal of the night, giving the rookie forward at least one goal in each of the Knighthawks’ four games this season. Forwards Curtis Knight (2+0) Ryan Smith (2+0) and transition player Matt Gilray (2+0) each scored twice, while forwards Holden Cattoni (0+3), Turner Evans (0+2) and Shawn Evans (0+2) and defenseman Dan Coates (0+2) all had multi-assists outings.
Cattoni and Shawn Evans still remain the only two Knighthawks players to have recorded at least one point in each of the team’s first 16 games in franchise history after tonight’s efforts.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Goaltender Rylan Hartley (1-1) made his second straight start of the season in net for Rochester, getting his first loss of the 2021-22 campaign despite making 45 saves over the course of the contest.
Georgia forward Lyle Thompson (1+5) led the offense for his team with a goal and five assists, while forward Jordan Hall (0+3) had a three-point effort with three assists. Swarm captain Jordan MacIntosh (1+2) recorded a multi-point effort with a goal and two assists, while transition player Brendan Bomberry (2+0) added two goals to his season total. Swarm transition players Ryan MacSpayden (1+0), Kason Tarbell (1+1) and Bryan Cole (1+1) and forwards Ethan Walker (1+0), Brad Voigt (1+0) and Travis Longboat (1+0) and defenseman TJ Comizio (1+0) all tallied a goal apiece.
Veteran goaltender Mike Poulin (2-3) made his fifth start of the 2021-22 campaign for the Swarm, notching his second win of the year while making 41 saves on 49 shots he faced.
WATCH: MATT GILRAY POST-GAME
The Swarm wasted no time in setting the tone early, scoring twice just nine seconds apart to open a 2-0 lead 31 seconds into the contest. Walker was first followed by MacSpayden, who darted his way from midfield on the ensuing face-off following Walker’s goal.
Georgia then upped the score 3-0 in its favor with a goal on the man-advantage from Bomberry, before Bertrand continued his torrid start to the 2021-22 campaign to get the Knighthawks on the scoresheet. As Bertrand navigated his way up the floor, he took a pass from Shawn Evans before alluding a pair of Georgia defenders to record his seventh marker of the season.
As Rochester would be held to just seven total shots in the first quarter, Georgia netted two more goals to make the score 5-1 before the frame’s end. Cole knocked in the first tally, while MacIntosh notched the Swarm’s second power-play goal of the night with 5:50 to go in the stanza.
WATCH: MIKE HASEN POST-GAME
With the second quarter barely underway, the Knighthawks found their second goal of the evening.
Knight was to the left of the net when he found a shooting lane and sent his shot through the five-hole of Poulin. With his fifth marker of the season, Knight set the score at 5-2 just 48 seconds into the second frame.
After a near 10-minute pause in offensive pressure from either side, Georgia claimed its four-goal advantage at the 10:45 mark when Thompson netted his lone goal of the contest and 14th of the season to tilt the score 6-2 in Georgia’s favor headed into the half.
WATCH: RYAN SMITH POST-GAME
Walker opened the scoring at 9:01 to begin the second half, but consecutive goals by Rochester would bring the Knighthawks within three.
Gilray answered just 52 seconds later with his first goal of the year and Rees followed up in transition at the 11:32 mark. Coates earned an assist on the back-to-back strikes.
The Swarm, however, continued to press and widened the gap once again with Voigt and Longboat finding the back of the net 17 seconds apart to put Georgia ahead 9-4.
A power-play goal from Smith in the final minute of the third quarter would bring the Knighthawks closer heading into the final frame.
WATCH: HOLDEN CATTONI POST-GAME
Bomberry gave Georgia its largest lead of the night 1:14 into the fourth, but Rochester rattled off three straight goals over a five-minute span to come within a pair with 5:08 remaining. Smith, Gilray and Knight all scored their seconds goals of the night to make it 10-8.
Down by a pair entering the final minutes, Rochester pulled Hartley multiple times in favor of the extra attacker, but Georgia’s defense was impenetrable. The Swarm added two more goals in the closing minutes to seal the 12-8 win.
After a quick turnaround, the Knighthawks are back in action for the second straight night on Saturday, Jan. 22 when they visit the Philadelphia Wings for an Eastern Conference showdown at Wells Fargo Center. The 7 p.m. matchup will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull and ESPN+.