The Edmonton Rush (7-4) set a team record for largest margin of victory with a historic 16-3 road win over the Rochester Knighthawks (7-4) in front of 6,801 fans at Blue Cross Arena on Saturday night. By finding the net just three times, Rochester tied the NLL all-time regular season record for fewest goals in a single game, with much of the credit belonging to Edmonton’s defense.
Mark Matthews, who had seven points (3+4) on the night, gave a preview of what was in store when he opened the scoring only 20 seconds in while Robert Church (2+5) also tallied seven points for Edmonton.
“It was a great win for us,” Matthews said. “They won back-to-back-to-back, and we came in and put a good beating on them like that. It’s nice for us…[goals] come when they come.”
“They’re real good skill guys,” said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. “They don’t really care who gets the goals. They move the ball well. They obviously have special talent. They shoot the ball well and make good decisions with the ball and make plays. That’s what they did tonight.”
“They’ve got a great team over there,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “They moved the ball well and made a lot of big saves.”
“That was a statement win for them,” said Knighthawks forward Dan Dawson who led all Rochester players with three points (2+1). “They put everyone on notice that the hype is real. They dictated everything. They were that good today.”
“They’re a great team,” said Knighthawks forward Stephen Keogh. “They played a great game tonight. They were swarming us all over the place causing turnovers.”
“They’re a tremendous team,” said Knighthawks defenseman Mike Kirk. “They played great offensively… Their shots were going in. They were goal-scorers’ goals tonight, picking corners. They capitalized on our mistakes.”
“They looked unbelievable tonight,” said Knighthawks transition player Brad Self. “Full credit to them, they played awesome defense, they shut us down. And their offense did whatever they wanted to tonight. They were unbelievable and we were terrible.”
While there was no question the Rush dominated the game, the Knighthawks’ collective mood after the game was not one of doom and gloom but one of a veteran team confident in their ability to learn from their mistakes and move on.
“We’re going to forget about it,” Hasen said. “We’re going to come Wednesday and start over. We’ve got two big games next week… We’re going to forget about it. We’re just going to move forward. One positive out of it? It’s over.”
“It’s a lesson we learned tonight,” Dawson said. “If you don’t come to play every single night, you’re going to end up on the wrong end of things. It showed tonight that if we don’t come to play, we’re not going to last.”
Even though there was no negativity, the one consistent feeling expressed across the board was one of self-infliction.
“As individuals and as a team, we need to be better,” Hasen said. “We can’t play like that.”
“At the end, we just have to look at ourselves,” Keogh said. “It was a poor effort on our part offensively. We weren’t moving the ball, moving our feet. It was an embarrassing loss and we just have to regroup Wednesday… It’s over and done with now. We have to look forward. We play Toronto next week, they play the same style of defense.”
“We can learn a ton from that game,” Kirk said. “They showed us maybe where we have some holes. We can get back to the drawing board this week, watch some film, and see where we can improve… A game like that, you’ve got to forget about it real quick. It was an ugly, ugly loss for us, but you have to take something away from it otherwise you’re not going to get any better.”
“That’s a terrible game by us,” Self said. “We need to wake up, but we know we’re a good team. We’re a veteran group in here. We need to get back to work on Wednesday… We’ve got to move on and do what we do best.”
While coach Hasen was not willing to put the onus for the loss on scheduling, coach Keenan certainly made allowance for its impact on the final score.
“I wouldn’t put too much into that score,” Keenan said. “Playing two games in a month for them, and then having us. We play the game at a high tempo. That’s a tough thing to do. That team will be back. They’re a veteran team…16-3, that’s not going to happen very often against those guys. They’ll be back. They’re well-coached and they’re a great team with great leaders.”
Rochester travels to Toronto on Friday night to take on the Rock and return home on Saturday to face the Minnesota Swarm. Edmonton returns home on Friday to take on the Vancouver Stealth then travels to Vancouver on Saturday for a rematch.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Aaron Bold
2) Mark Matthews
3) Robert Church
By Jeremy Pike (@KnighthawksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Micheline Veluvolu.