Rochester Knighthawks (10-4) beat Minnesota Swarm (3-11) with 15-14 comeback OT win on Friday night. (Photo: Scott Pierson)
Down by three goals late in regulation, the Rochester Knighthawks (10-4) used a fourth-quarter comeback to sting the Minnesota Swarm (3-11) with a 15-14 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center on Friday night.
“Four minutes to go with a three-goal lead, that’s tough,” said Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. “We had some bad bounces down the stretch and earlier in the game we were getting those bounces. I definitely thought it slipped out of our hands.”
After Rochester tied the game in the final minute of the fourth quarter, forward Johnny Powless scored from deep 1:59 into sudden death OT session to give the Knighthawks the win in the first game of their weekend home-and-home series against Minnesota.
“If we give #93 time and space there, he’s going to put the ball in the net,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “We’ll take it.”
Stephen Keogh (6+0) and Johnny Powless (3+1) owned the night with a goal by Keogh with 24 seconds left in regulation to tie the game before the Powless goal for the win. Cody Jamieson (2+8) had a game-high 10 points for Rochester and assisted both of the last two goals of the game.
“We knew if we kept plugging away we’d get an opportunity and just had to capitalize,” said Hasen. “Higgins played very well, their defense was really good tonight.”
The first quarter pace was set and matched by both teams and ended with one goal, two penalty minutes and 10 shots for each team.
“It was a battle from start to finish,” said Hasen. “It just came down to the last shot and last possession.”
A surge of offense emerged in the second quarter with the teams scoring every other for the first nine minutes and the score tallied 5-6 in Minnesota’s favor at the half. The surge started with a breakaway goal from Brock Sorenson (1+0) and peaked with a goal that came from a rebound and bounce off Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc before Shayne Jackson (2+3) grabbed the ball and swung it in with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
“It didn’t matter if we were down or up, we continued to work hard,” said Swarm captain Andrew Suitor. “They have the best goalie in the world in my opinion and we did a great a job getting to him.”
The third and fourth quarters were laden with goals and immediate answers until Minnesota seemed to have the upper hand, leading 14-11 with four minutes remaining in the game. A last minute offensive run by the Knighthawks and brief lapse in defense sealed Minnesota’s fate.
“We had some bad bounces down the stretch and earlier in the game we were getting those bounces,” Caines. “I wouldn’t say we were playing bad. To battle that hard and come out in a game where I think we should have won is tough.”
“We work so hard for those things to happen and it’s just little mental breaks and you can blame it on whatever,” said Swarm forward Callum Crawford. “I don’t think there’s an answer for it. It’s not lack of hard work and effort it’s just little breaks here and there.”
Crawford (3+6), who achieved 500 points last week, continued to deliver for his team and added 9 points to his tally. Reigning two-time NLL Rookie of the Month Logan Schuss (3+3), lived up to his accolades with three goals of his own.
“He had another strong performance tonight,” said Caines. “We’re trying to get him opportunities to succeed. He’s one of our go-to guys and we’re gonna get him the ball any chance we can.”
The unfortunate loss does not do justice for a team that has shown considerable promise and has continued to mesh as a team as the season continues. Even into the last seconds of the game, the Swarm showed they were determined and united.
“We’re believing in each other,” said Crawford. “Our offense is starting to get comfortable together. We’re building that chemistry and we’ll hopefully just keep getting better from here.”
The Swarm also shared a special bond with their fans tonight as they played in honor of Katy Miller, a dedicated Swarm fan who tragically passed away this September due to a heart condition at age 23. Swarm captain Andrew Suitor wore Katy’s name on his jersey to honor her memory and support her family.
“I was definitely playing for their family,” Suitor said. “It was an honor to be out there, shake their hands and give them a hug before the game. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the win, but everyone battled and showed a lot of pride towards that. It was something that really hit home for our team and our organization.
“It shows that the Swarm team, from ownership down - we care about our fans. We want to show them that no matter what, we’re here with you, we’ll battle with you.”
And the battle continues tomorrow as the two teams face off in less than 24 hours for the second game in a home-and-home series. Both teams can be expected to play with just as much fervor as was seen tonight.
“They’re a good team, they’re just not getting the bounces. We had to play an entire 60 minutes plus tonight and we know it’s gonna be the same thing there tomorrow night,” said Hasen. “It’s gonna be a tough one.”
“Everybody kept in and that’s what we gotta do tomorrow night,” said Knighthawks forward Johnny Powless. “I think it’s going to be another great game.”
For the Swarm, a sense of urgency will be present as they fight with all they have to ignite a spark of hope for a playoff chance.
“We’ve got to completely forget about this and move forward,” said Callum Crawford. “We’ve won out before, we’ve done that in this franchise so why not do it again?”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Stephen Keogh
2) Logan Schuss
3) Johnny Powless