The three-time defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks are now just one win away from their fourth-straight Champion’s Cup Finals appearance after the team’s thrilling 10-9 win over the Toronto Rock in Game 1 of the East Finals this past Saturday. But it didn’t come easy for Rochester, as they lost 2014 NLL MVP Cody Jamieson to a lower-body injury early in the game and weathered several Rock buzzer-beaters and equalizers. Bob Chavez has more on IL Indoor about the big win for the Knighthawks.
“Postseason games as a professional athlete force you to dig deep, find out what you’re made of and just how far you’ll push yourself to win. But there can be a deeper element, and the Rochester Knighthawks encountered that Saturday,” Chavez writes on IL Indoor. “Reigning MVP Cody Jamieson went down early with an injury against the Toronto Rock and suddenly, the Knighthawks asking themselves some questions: How can we do this? Can we do this, and who is going to do this?”
As you might guess, there are so many answers. But the bottom line was that yes, indeed, the Knighthawks can do this. Saturday’s 10-9 win over the Rock gives Rochester a 1-0 series lead as it heads back to Toronto for Game 2 on Saturday. As to the who part of that questioning, take your pick.
Was it Matt Vinc and the 15 saves he made in the fourth quarter? How about Brad Self and the 3 goals and 3 assists he had? Craig Point’s hat trick wasn’t bad, considering he didn’t even dress for the first-round win over Buffalo. Oh, there’s also Dan Dawson.
Dangerous Dan scored just 1 goal, but what a goal it was. And the timing? Couldn’t be better. If you missed seeing the goal live, then there’s a good chance you caught it on SportsCenter.
It came with 37 seconds left after the 6-foot-6 forward beat a pair of Toronto defenders to a loose ball. Working about 3 steps in front of the crease, Dawson turned himself to face the goal and as he worked his way toward goalie Brandon Miller, Dawson faked low right, then leaped into the air over the crease to beat Miller over the right shoulder.
“It was kind of Johnny-on-the-spot,” Dawson told NLL.com. “I thought that I was quiet all game, I was kind of a spectator out there. The ball just happened to go near my stick, I got lucky with the loose ball. Caught the goalie off guard with a couple fakes and was lucky to bury it.”
“I thought they played hard,” Lovell told NLL.com. “It’s a tough building to win in and we gave ourselves a chance for 59 minutes and 30 seconds. I’m very proud of how we played. If we do that, we still have a great chance to win this thing.”
And so, the stage is set. And it’s not just in the East Division. The Edmonton Rush defeated the Calgary Roughnecks 10-8 in Game 1 of the West Finals, setting up a Game 2 showdown Saturday in Calgary.
But don’t think for a minute that the Riggers are without hope.
“Tonight, they were the better team and they got the result,” coach Curt Malawsky told NLL.com. “We’re not going to hang our heads, we’re not going to go looking for excuses, we’ve always manned up. When we were 0-6 we manned up, were 2-8 we manned up, we manned up when we had to go to Vancouver and win, and we manned up in Colorado. We’re going to man-up after this one and go out and compete.”
Both Game 2’s are set for Saturday, May 23: 7 p.m. ET in Toronto and 9:30 p.m. ET in Calgary.