The Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) built an early lead and held off a second-half charge to defeat the Philadelphia Wings (1-1) by a score of 13-9 on "Knighthawks Hall of Fame Night" at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday.
The Knighthawks exploded out of the gate in the second quarter and took a commanding 9-3 lead with seven unanswered goals before halftime. The Wings, however, went on a run of their own in the second half. Philadelphia cut a once looming deficit to just one with six consecutive goals for its own. After trailing by as much as seven, Kevin Ross’ goal at 6:36 in the fourth quarter made it a 10-9 game.
“The first half we were doing everything that we want to do,” Rochester head coach Mike Hasen said. “We were dictating the pace of play. It was a good half. That third quarter we got to figure out a little bit.”
“We lost a little bit of passion early on in the third,” defenseman Mike Kirk said. “We got to find that passion and get back to what we do best, and that’s our principles and five-on-five and playing our defense.”
After defenseman Dylan Evans was assessed a five-minute major penalty for slashing, former Knighthawk Jordan Hall netted a power play goal. It was the Wings’ first goal since Hall’s power play goal at 12:52 in the first quarter, and the spark they needed after going scoreless for over 24 minutes. Garrett Thul and Tracey Kelusky followed with goals 41 seconds apart. Ross’ diving goal at 13:19 in the third was originally called a crease violation on the floor, but a successful challenge by Philadelphia head coach Blane Harrison gave the Wings even more energy.
“Obviously when you get a five called, it really lets you dictate for the next five minutes. Any momentum the other team might have had is kind of evaporated through that,” Hall said.
“I didn’t think I was going to get two, let alone five,” Evans said. “When you give them a five-minute power play to work with, it’s easily an opportunity to come back.”
Dawson finally ended the Rochester lull with his third goal. Point, who missed the season opener, completed his hat trick with a behind-the-back shot, bringing the crowd to its feet and regaining complete control of the game.
“I’ve been training pretty hard off the floor,” he said. “I felt pretty good. My trainer got me doing some pretty good conditioning. I’ve just been going as hard as I could.
“[The behind-the-back shot] was kind of my only option. I had Brodie [Merrill] on me. He’s a tough defender. That’s all I really had to throw at him [goaltender Even Kirk]. Lucky enough it went in.”
The two teams traded goals in an even first quarter, ending the first 15 minutes tied at 3-3. Dawson opened the scoring 19 seconds into the contest with his first diving goal. Hall’s first power play goal gave Philadelphia its last lead, 3-2, with 2:08 left in the opening period.
“We came out of what I thought was a pretty solid first quarter,” Harrison said. “Against the two-time defending champs you come out with a 3-3 tie, so we felt pretty good about ourselves. Then we kind of fell off the rail a little bit.”
Rochester outshot the Philadelphia 13-5 in the second quarter while outscoring the Wings 6-0 in the period. Joel McCready and Jamieson scored less than a minute apart to pull ahead 5-3. Three of the last four goals in the quarter were scored on the power play. Point scored twice with a man advantage, the latter putting the Knighthawks ahead 8-3. Dawson’s power-play goal 1:31gave his team a 9-3 advantage.
“Power play is always a huge part of the game, especially when teams are going back-and-forth,” Point said. “We capitalized on their mistakes when they got penalties. We go over it a lot in practice and made sure they paid for it.”
Dawson was named the first star of the contest with three goals and three assists. Jamieson was the second star with a game-high eight points (2+6). Buchanan, who led the Wings with six points (2+4), earned third-star honors.
Prior to the contest, the Knighthawks inducted team founder Steve Donner into the team’s Hall of Fame. Donner, a Rochester native, was the mastermind behind the bringing professional lacrosse to Western New York in Buffalo and Rochester, and evolving the National Lacrosse League.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Dan Dawson
2) Cody Jamieson
3) Kyle Buchanan