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Cleaning up: Knighthawks dust Swarm 12-9 for weekend sweep

04/05/2014, 9:45pm EDT
By Knighthawks beat writer Jeremy Pike for NLL.com

Powless, Goodleaf & Keogh key Rochester's home win over Minnesota

The Rochester Knighthawks (11-4) earned both a weekend and season sweep over the Minnesota Swarm (3-12) with a 12-9 home win in front of 6,410 fans at Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night.

Both teams started their backup goalies, Angus Goodleaf for Rochester and Tyler Carlson for Minnesota. Tonight marked the first time that Matt Vinc did not start a game since April 23, 2010, a span of 71 games.

"I was kind of surprised," Goodleaf said. "'Vno' is by far the best goalie in the league. He's consistent. It's good to know coach has confidence in me to get a start here, and got the 'W' so it was nice."

"'Gussie' played real well," Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen said. "In the back of our minds, I guess, it's a good backup for us."

"[Goodleaf] had a great game for us tonight," transition player Brad Self said. "It was nice to see him get the win."

In a game where both teams were feeling the effect of having played the previous night and dealing with the rigorous travel schedule, Rochester looked fresh early, jumping out to a 5-1 lead after the first quarter. Johnny Powless and Stephen Keogh both scored twice in the opening frame.

"We talked as an offense to move the ball and move our feet," Keogh said. "I thought we did a really good job of that. Everybody stepped up tonight and we've got such a balanced offense that it could be anybody putting the ball in."

"It's nice that we can spread it around," Vitarelli said. "Any night, it can be anybody. This week, Keogh stepped up big for us last night, and tonight, [Powless] had five. That's sort of the key to our success."

Powless went on to score five goals in all, tallying his hat trick just two minutes into the second period. Last night, he had a hat trick and assist, including the game winning goal. Keogh, who had six goals last night in Minnesota, added six assists tonight. Cory Vitarelli also scored four goals and added two assists, after having a goal and an assist last night.

"Such an unselfish group," Hasen said. "When their feet's moving and the ball is moving, everybody is going get an opportunity."

"Offensively as a group, we're doing a great job chemistry-wise," Keogh said. "We always talk before games, and just talk about what we can do better. We always want to get better as an offense. My teammates were finding me last night, and the ball was falling for me last night. Tonight, I was hitting some open guys, but it was just everybody was moving their feet tonight, we were setting some good picks and getting open."

"I thought it was really good," Powless said. "But I have really good teammates. I'm surrounded by talent. That's the key with our team. Everybody can put the ball in, so other teams, it makes it harder for them."

"Wins are important at this time of the year," Vitarelli said. "We want to be on a roll at the end of the year here. All year, we've sort of been there. Some night they fall, some nights they don't. But I think, obviously as the year goes on, you just find that chemistry more and more. So hopefully we're hitting our stride and continue to get better."

The Swarm fought back in the second period with four goals. Tyler Hass scored twice, while Callum Crawford notched a goal and an assist on his way to a hat trick. Powless's hat trick goal and Vitarelli's second goal were the difference as Rochester took a slim 7-5 lead into half time.

The Knighthawks kicked off the second half with a four goal run. The first goal came before all the fans were back in their seats, as Pat McCready caught a ball bouncing off the side glass and went in all alone to score just 23 seconds into the third period. Vitarelli picked up his third and fourth goals of the game, sandwiching Powless's fourth as well.

Logan Schuss scored twice before the end of the third to tighten the game back up to 11-7, and when Crawford completed his hat trick in the fourth, the Swarm looked like they might be on the verge of a comeback.

Powless's fifth goal of the night two minutes later reestablished the four goal lead. Shayne Jackson's lone goal of the night brought the Swarm back within three at 12-9, but Angus Goodleaf and the Knighthawks' defense ensured there would be no more goals.

"It wasn't anything they did," Swarm forward Callum Crawford said. "To be honest, the offense I thought had tons of chances. There were tons of great looks that we just didn't get to fall. Last night, they fell."

"I don't know if they did a whole lot different," Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said. "I'm still pretty proud of the guys to put up the kind of numbers they did across two games against this team and their defense."

Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:

1) Johnny Powless
2) Stephen Keogh
3) Cory Vitarelli

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