The Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) defeated the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) in front of 7,272 fans at the Blue Cross Arena Saturday night. The Knighthawks offense continued its explosive start to the season while goalie Matt Vinc continued his impersonation of a brick wall in net.
Rochester went from the worst offense in the league (175 goals, only team not to break 200 in the 2016-17 season) to scoring 38 over the first two games of this season. Certainly being healthy has contributed to that total after every offensive player but Joe Resetarits missed playing time last season. While that pace is unsustainable by all odds, the offense is certainly clicking and balanced.
10 players scored for the Knighthawks versus Buffalo, with four players notching at least a hat trick. Kyle Jackson led all goal scorers with four, while Dan Dawson, Resetarits, and Cory Vitarelli all finished with three. Dawson and Cody Jamieson each finished with six points apiece, while Jamieson led all players with six assists on the night.
This is the style of offense that the players talked about during the three-peat years. An offense where anyone could take over on a given night. Now that the offense is healthy, the talent is undeniable. Perhaps the addition of former Knighthawks forward Mike Accursi to the coaching staff (214 goals in 141 career games) has also boosted the team’s offense.
It was not just the veterans getting the job done on offense for Rochester, though. Rookies Eric Fannell and Jake Withers each notched their first professional goals with Fannell scoring twice on the night.
Jackson got the goal-scoring festivities started only 25 seconds to start a 5-0 run for the hosts. The Bandits never recovered despite scoring twice late in the first quarter to draw within three. Buffalo was only able to score two or more goals in a row three times throughout the contest, with their largest run of three goals coming during a two-minute span of the third quarter with the game essentially out of hand.
That three-goal run was keyed by the Bandits’ special teams. Chase Fraser scored his second goal of the night on the power play, then Steve Priolo and Nick Weiss each scored short-handed.
Yet even that Buffalo run was shut down by Vinc. He set his single-game high record for saves with 55 saves on 66 shots and turned in a highlight-reel effort on the night. While the offense was explosive, Vinc was certainly a huge part of the 10-point victory despite the Bandits outshooting Rochester 66-50.
Yet knowing Vinc, he would be quick to credit the play of his defense despite the high level of shots. One of the standout players on defense against the Bandits was Graeme Hossack. His game was also chock full of highlights between dropping Mark Steenhuis to the Rochester turf twice, including once that led to a loose ball that Hossack scooped up and scored on. He is developing into a top-tier defensive player and continues to improve every game he plays in. His combination of speed and strength makes him a force on the turf.
Next Saturday, December 30, the Knighthawks head south to take on the defending champion Georgia Swarm at 7:05pm ET. The Bandits head north of the border to take on the Toronto Rock after defeating them 13-9 to start the season.