The Rochester Knighthawks (2-3) doubled up the Philadelphia Wings (2-3) on the road by a score of 20-10 during their 11 a.m. matinee in National Lacrosse League action at Wells Fargo Center on Friday.
Knighthawks forward Dan Dawson recorded a game-high 11 points (4+7), matching his combined point total over the first four games of the 2013 season, in his first return to Philadelphia after coming to Rochester via an offseason trade. Dawson, who entered the game with just one goal and 11 points (1+10), finally had the breakout performance consistent with his high level of production over the past few seasons.
“I thought we’d been squeezing our sticks early in the season,” Dawson said. “The biggest difference from tonight and the first four games was execution – we buried our chances. The shots that were going wide, the ones that were hitting the pipe and not going in were falling for us.”
After scoring just seven goals in each of their last two games, the Knighthawks found their scoring touch with eight second-quarter goals, the most of any team in a quarter so far this season, to take a commanding 11-2 lead into halftime.
“The offense, we knew it was going to come,” said Knighthawks forward Joe Walters, who set a career-high with four assists. “We were getting our chances. The ball just wasn’t falling the last couple of games, but tonight it was. We knew it was going to happen."
Rochester scored twice more in the first minute of the third quarter for a 13-2 lead until Philadelphia responded with four unanswered goals to pull within 13-6 midway through the third. But the Knighthawks cashed in on their first power play of the game less than a minute later to stop the run before the teams traded goals as Rochester led 15-7 entering the fourth quarter.
The Wings gave up another goal just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter and the Knighthawks scored three more in the next four minutes and the rout was on. Rochester, who swept Philadelphia in their three-game regular season series last year, had their largest margin of victory since they beat the Wings 22-12 in their 2012 season opener.
"They beat us four times last year and in the playoffs last year by one goal," said Wings head coach Johnny Mouradian. "They killed us in the home opener last year. We struggle with them, they get open far too much. They always seem to hit that pick at same time the ball is coming and then they squirt open."
Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc, who won the NLL Defensive Player of the Week award for his play in their 7-6 win over Washington last weekend, was strong again today with 49 saves on 59 shots. Rochester forward Cody Jamieson had seven points (3+4) and Mike Accursi also scored four goals.
Wings goalie Brandon Miller rotated in and out with backup Kevin Croswell, who allowed four goals on four shots, as the two netminders combined for just 30 saves on 50 shots. Kevin Buchanan led the Wings with six points (1+5), Drew Westervelt recorded five points (1+4) while team captain Brodie Merrill (3+1), Jordan Hall (2+2) and Kevin Crowley (1+3) all had four points in the losing effort.
One of the bright spots for Philadelphia was their power play unit as they went 4-for-5 with the man advantage while Rochester also took advantage by going 2-for-3. Wings transition player Jordan Hall, acquired along with Paul Rabil in the trade that sent Dawson to Rochester, finished with four points (2+2) against his former team.
"It's one of those things, like seeing your ex-girlfriend out, you always want to put on the best show you can," Hall said. "It's obviously tough to do with the result we had tonight."
Rochester's 20 goals and 10-goal margin of victory are both single-game highs for NLL teams so far this season. The Knighthawks have allowed just two goals over two quarters of play in each of their last three games and finally got the performance they needed from their big-name offense that had the defending champions favored to repeat at the start of the season.
Rochester will look to improve their record to .500 when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bandits on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET at First Niagara Center.
“It won’t mean anything if we go into tomorrow night and take it easy," Walters said. "So we have to make sure we play hard.”
Philadelphia, who had last weekend off, has a bye again next weekend and will return to action in Week #8 with a doubleheader starting in Rochester on Saturday, Feb. 23 at The Blue Cross Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET.
"It's beneficial, we have a couple of guys who are injured right now," Hall said. "We got Seibald and Mundorf, that will be nice to have [them] back in the lineup so I don't mind having the byes now, but obviously with the time off, there's basically two ways it can go."
NLL.com's Dave Walls contributed to this article.