Rochester Knighthawks (6-3) host Philadelphia Wings (3-7) at Blue Cross Arena on Saturday at 7:30pm ET. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The Rochester Knighthawks (6-3) return home to the Blue Cross Arena for a Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Wings (3-7) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
The Knighthawks are coming off a close win over the Colorado Mammoth at the Pepsi Center last Saturday, 11-9. Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen was pleased with the final result.
“Last weekend, it was good that we came away with that win,” Hasen said. “Going into Colorado, a great atmosphere, a great building to play in. We got out early but Colorado's never out of it.”
Rochester has been away from home the last three games and five out of the last six. Returning to the BCA is a welcome change for the Knighthawks.
“We're definitely look forward to getting back home,” Hasen said. “It does seem like an age since we've been there. It's our place and we've been playing well there so far this year and we want to get back at it.”
The Knighthawks and the Wings played back in Week 2 at the BCA, with the Knighthawks winning 13-9. Rochester knows that result means nothing now, though.
“Philly this weekend is going to be really tough,” Hasen said. “We always have good games against them. I know they're fighting for that spot and playoff positioning as are we. We're expecting another tough, physical battle and we've got to make sure we're going to be at our best."
Rochester defenseman Paul Dawson, coming off a surprising-three point effort with two goals against the Mammoth, spoke about what the defense has to do against the Wings.
“Same thing we've been doing all year,” Dawson said. “Trying to limit chances on the inside and keep everyone to the outside...playing strong team defense.”
On the offensive side of the floor for the Knighthawks, forward Stephen Keogh has been on a tear the last three weeks, notching 12 goals and six assists.
“Stevie's playing very, very well for us right now,” Hasen said. “Biggest thing about Stevie is he's constantly going hard to the net and he's creating space for his teammates which is something he does well. But the same time, he's burying and capitalizing on his opportunities. It's real good for him and he's having a good year so far. We just need to keep him focused and doing that.”
In that Week 2 game, Keogh notched one goal and three assists. Rochester will be looking for him to keep on this scoring tear against the Wings to help keep the Knighthawks undefeated at home this season.
After a weekend off, Philadelphia was given the opportunity to re-group and heal physically in preparation for their trip to Rochester.
In hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak, the Wings are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to be back in the playoff race, following the Toronto Rock’s 19-13 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks on March 1.
“All of the sudden, we’re in the thick of things again and feeling really good about our chances,” Wings head coach Blane Harrison said.
He emphasized that his team needs to put a full 60 minutes together against the Knighthawks and play hard at both ends.
“I have the utmost respect for that team, both from a coaching perspective and who they put on the field,” Harrison said. “Being back-to-back champs is not an easy thing to do and they’ve done it—starting with great goaltending, a rock solid defense and an offense that can put enough goals in to win, so it’s going to be a big test for us.”
It certainly won’t be an easy task for the Wings as they’ll be taking on a forceful offense with a young team, particularly in the defense.
“That kind of inexperience is sometimes like herding cats— you never know what you’re going to get and you trying to chase it all down and make sense of it all,” Harrison said of his young team. “I think that’s what we saw last game against (Swarm). I think it was a game that we let get a way and I think a lot of that was just some of the inexperience we have but we’ll look at that, we’ll tighten some things up and clean some things up.”
Having a breakout season for the Wings this year has been forward Kyle Buchanan who hopes his team can get back into the swing of things this weekend.
“Obviously I’ve come into a very fortunate situation here in Philadelphia,” Buchanan said. “We have a very unselfish offense and guys that are willing to work for each together.”
However, despite these qualities, Buchanan mentioned that they’ve “kind of fallen off for a while,” in addition to himself individually not putting the ball in the net like he was earlier in the season.
“I think moving forward, if we can get back on the page we were at before, the sky is the limit for us,” Buchanan said. “We need to compete for 60 minutes not pick and choose what quarters we’re going to bring it.”
And this is exactly what Philadelphia needs to do going into their game against Rochester as they have continuously lost games in the second quarter, just as they did in their last game against the Knighthawks, allowing them to go on a six goal run before half-time.
“Our second quarter hasn’t been that great and we’ve been trying to focus on it but we’ve still had some lapses there and a couple of lapses late,” Buchanan said. “I think we need to maybe not even take it quarter by quarter, but five minutes at a time and kind of focus on our shift in and out."