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Saturday night flight: Knighthawks and Wings ready for rematch

02/20/2013, 10:41pm EST
By Travis Larner, Knighthawks beat writer for NLL.com

Philly looks to snap 10-game skid vs. Rochester as Hall makes his return


The Rochester Knighthawks (3-4) host the Philadelphia Wings (2-3) at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

The Rochester Knighthawks (3-4) will look to earn their 11th-straight win against the visiting Philadelphia Wings (2-3) on Saturday at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.

The Knighthawks defeated the Wings on the road by a score of 20-10 earlier this season on Feb. 8, a Friday afternoon game in which Rochester set NLL single-game season-highs for goals scored (20) and largest margin of victory (10).

“We’ve got to get back to doing what we do best,” said Wings GM and head coach Johnny Mouradian. “Early in the season, we had three really good games. We just have to be ready to play the game when we get to the rink.”

After a 2-0 start to the season, Philadelphia has lost three straight games and will try to earn a win in their return to action after a bye weekend.

“You have to refocus,” Mouradian said. “We’re athletic and we need to play athletic.”

Rochester knows their most-recent performance against Philadelphia doesn’t mean much going forward, as the Knighthawks lost 10-6 to the Buffalo Bandits last weekend after a 15-7 blowout win in Buffalo the week before.

“We know Philadelphia’s a good team,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “I think we caught them on a bad afternoon I guess. We know they’re going to be better just like Buffalo was.”

Knighthawks transition player Brad Self isn’t taking the Wings lightly either.

”Regardless of who you are playing, whether or not you beat them before, big or not, you’ve got to be ready for the weekend ahead,” he said.

The 10-goal victory over Philadelphia was a break out game for Rochester’s offense, scoring more than half the number of goals in that game than they did over the first four games of the season combined. But during last weekend’s home loss to Buffalo, the offense seemingly disappeared again as the Knighthawks only mustered six goals.

“[Buffalo’s] defense and [goaltender Anthony Cosmo] played extremely well and took us right out of our rhythm,” Hasen said. “We couldn’t get back to what we were successful with the week beforehand.”

Despite the up and down season by the offense, Hasen felt the defense’s performance gave the team an opportunity to defeat Buffalo.

“You hold any team to 10 in this league, you expect to be on the right side of the end of the game,” he said.

Rochester’s defense is statistically one of the best in the NLL. The Knighthawks have league-best 10.14 goals-against average and a .812 save percentage. The defense is also tops in penalty killing, holding opponents scoreless on 66.7 percent of their man-down situations.

“Defensively, we just got to make sure we keep doing our job,” Hasen said. “The offense is going to click and they are going to come out and score bunches for us. We just got to worry about the back end first and foremost.”

Former Wings forward Dan Dawson recorded a season-high 11 points (4+7) against Philadelphia in their first meeting. Last week, Dawson scored his 900th career point with a fourth-quarter goal against Buffalo.

Just as Dawson made his return to Philadelphia during their last meeting, Wings transition player Jordan Hall will now go back to The Blue Cross Arena for the first time as a visitor after the offseason trade that sent both players to their new teams.

“It’s always a little bit of a weird feeling,” Hall said. “I don’t think there any hard feelings. I definitely want to go out there and have a good performance. I want to have a homecoming that is maybe upsetting for some of the Rochester fans. But for most of the guys that I played with up there, it’s really just about bragging rights.”

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