Playing their second game in as many nights — and having to travel to do so while their opponent was fresh and waiting — the Rochester Knighthawks (11-5) delivered a huge victory. The Knighthawks shook off a 10-9 loss the night before in Denver to the Colorado Mammoth to hand the Vancouver Stealth (5-12) a 13-9 defeat at Langley Events Centre in National Lacrosse League action.
“We just got into the flow early,” said Rochester’s Cory Vitarelli, who led the visitors with four goals and seven points. “We didn’t have the best game last night but for the most part, we finished off strong and carried that over.”
Vancouver opened the scoring but the teams were tied at two after one quarter. Rochester would go ahead for good in the second quarter, leading 7-4 at the half. The Stealth never got closer than three goals the rest of the way.
Vancouver was led by former Knighthawk Joel McCready, who scored five goals on seven shots. He also had one assist.
“We did lose that game … (but) a lot of good things are happening,” McCready said. “That is a good Rochester ream right there. We have to take the good things from that game, we have been through highs and lows this season and it has made us a stronger team. We have to take the positives from that loss.”
“A good start was definitely key for us. They are a good team and desperate for wins, we knew they would be coming at us hard,” Vitarelli said.
Rochester was clinical with their ball movement as nine different players were able to beat Stealth goaltender Eric Penney, who was making his fifth-straight start.
Tyler Richards was back in the line-up, but did not play. Cody Jamieson (1+6), Jordan Hall (2+1), Dan Dawson (1+2), Craig Point (1+1), Joe Resetarits (0+3), Stephen Keogh (1+0), Jon Sullivan (1+0), Scott Campbell (1+0) and Paul Dawson (1+0) had the other goals.
“That is the one thing we try and do each and every times we are on the floor,” said Rochester coach Mike Hasen. “It is not going to be on one guy to put the ball in the net for us, it is going to be by committee.”
The Stealth offense did manage to put up big numbers. In addition to McCready’s big game, Rhys Duch (1+6), Logan Schuss (1+5) and Tyler Digby (2+2) had multi-point games.
“Personally, I am happy with how all the guys battled, our defense, our goalie, the guys on O,” McCready said. “We did battle. You take the positives and you build from it. You make the playoffs one step at a time.”
The loss leaves Vancouver a half-game behind Calgary (6-11) for the NLL West Division’s final playoff spot. Calgary has a bye in week 17 while the Stealth are in Buffalo against the Bandits.
And when Vancouver hosts the Roughnecks in Week 18 on May 2 at the LEC, a Stealth victory that night would ensure the team a playoff spot.
“All the cards are in, we want to make the playoffs. Everybody in the Lower Mainland should be at that May 2 lacrosse game,” McCready said. “I am excited for Buffalo, but you have to be amped up for the May 2 game, western rival, at home, Lower Mainland lacrosse hotbed, it has to be a full house.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Cory Vitarelli
2) Joel McCready
3) Cody Jamieson
By Gary Ahuja (@VanStealthBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Garrett James.