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Knighthawks look to get back on track at home

03/26/2013, 4:15pm EDT
By Travis Larner, Knighthawks beat writer for NLL.com

Rochester will try and improve on 1-5 home record when they host Toronto

The Rochester Knighthawks (4-6) host the Toronto Rock (9-4) at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday at 7:30pm ET. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)

The Rochester Knighthawks (4-6) hope to get back on track at home when they host the Toronto Rock (9-4), coming off an 18-11 win over the visiting Buffalo Bandits (5-8) on Friday night, at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.

Playing at home has not been an easy task for the Knighthawks this season. Only two of the nine teams in the NLL have more wins at home than Rochester does on the road. Outside of Minnesota and Washington, home field appears to be more of a disadvantage for the Knighthawks.

With a 1-5 record at home, they will play their second-to-last regular season game of the season in Rochester this weekend.

“I really don’t think there’s a correlation between winning or losing at home,” said Rochester native Joe Walters. “Our record speaks for itself. We’re struggling. I don’t think it has anything to do with being home or away. People seem to make more out of it than it really is. You just need to win.”

Saturday’s tilt against the Rock will most likely prove to be another tough contest.

“Toronto’s a fantastic team, and like [Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen] said, we need to be on our best game,” said Rochester forward Mike Accursi. “It’s all those little things that are adding up to winning or losing. Those little loose balls – whether it be off faceoffs, offensive end or defensive end, smart transition – those are the difference between winning and losing in this league.

“If you lose those battles, more than likely, you’re going to lose the game.”

Coming off a bye weekend, the Knighthawks will look to build off the positives of an 11-9 home loss to the red-hot Edmonton Rush the week before.

“I do think Rochester’s game is getting back to where they expect it to be,” said Rock general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson. “[They] certainly played Edmonton very tough, and with the exception of a few minutes, were Edmonton’s equal.”

In the first meeting between the Knighthawks and the Rock, Rochester outshot Toronto 47-43 and collected two more loose balls, but struggled to score. Of their seven goals, only two were scored at even strength, as three were scored shorthanded and more two came on the power play.

“When we got opportunities offensively, we need to capitalize as well,” Hasen said.

In the 11-7 loss to Toronto on Jan. 26, the defense held Toronto’s impressive power play to only a pair of goals by killing five penalties. Rochester has the best penalty-killing percentage at 62%, while the Rock enter the weekend with the second-best power-play unit in the league.

“We’ve been successful by dictating a little bit more and doing little things that we want to do rather than reacting to what opposing teams are doing,” Hasen said. “Keep a little pressure on them and make them do things that may not be scripted or not what they want to do.”

Hasen utilized the bye week to break down the game film from the loss to Edmonton, but plans on going back to review the tape from Rochester’s first game against the Rock in January as well.

“At the same time, [the first game against Toronto] seems like a decade ago,” Hasen said. “They’re a lot better now and they’re playing a lot more consistently. We’re going to focus on what they’re doing now. Our main focus is on what we need to correct.”

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