The Rochester Knighthawks (0-4) will begin their back-to-back game weekend Saturday night as they welcome the defending NLL Champion Calgary Roughnecks (2-2) to the Blue Cross Arena at 7 pm ET.
The Knighthawks were a few plays away from their first win last weekend in Toronto as they got great performances from Holden Cattoni, Shawn Evans, and Craig Wende, but victory continues to elude them early on in the new franchise’s history. However, with so much improvement all over the floor it feels like that first win is right within their reach.
This could potentially be a huge weekend for the Knighthawks as they could quickly turnaround their season if they can pull off two wins in two nights against Calgary and Philadelphia.
“It’s hard to really think of just one game going into this weekend,” Knighthawks GM Dan Carey told rochesterknighthawks.com. “Mentally you have to prepare and make sure that once that game is done Saturday, you’re putting yourself in the mindset for Sunday’s game. Right now, though, our focus is on Calgary.”
Rochester will have momentum on their side going into the Calgary game after such an encouraging performance last weekend in Toronto. The Knighthawks and Rock traded blows throughout the game, but Rochester didn’t let Toronto go a big run like they let teams do in previous games. The Knighthawks were in the game up until the final whistle. Wende was outstanding in net with 49 saves and the whole team played with a greater sense of urgency and pep in their step that they lacked in their first 3 games.
If the Knighthawks can bring that same energy against Calgary, while also having their home crowd cheering them on, they could end the night with their first win.
The Roughnecks haven’t played a game since December 28 and will be trying to get back into a rhythm early on in the game after their long break, which will be even more difficult with their second leading scorer Jesse King out of the lineup with an injury. 2019 NLL MVP Dane Dobbie is also still out from suspension.
They will likely be very reliant on righties Curtis Dickson and Tyler Pace to shoulder most of the offensive load. The Head Coach Curt Malawsky will have some tough choices to make about which lefties he will put out there alongside Dan Taylor. They have several options in Travis Getz, Zach Herreweyers, and Dereck Downs, but also might let Tyson Bell and Zach Currier stay on the floor and get some offensive shifts as well.
Goalie Christian Del Bianco backstops this veteran Calgary defense that has the green light to push the ball in transition with dangerous players like Bell and Currier as well as Eli Salama and Mitch Wilde. The Roughnecks two losses came in overtime and in the last seconds of regulation on plays that the defense couldn’t do much about, but definitely want back.
The Knighthawks will be without Jay Thorimbert as he was placed on injured reserve. They will miss his presence on defence and in the faceoff circle especially going against Calgary’s Tyler Burton who is one of the better faceoff men in the NLL going 48 for 90 so far this season. Chris Willman will likely take the bulk of the faceoffs for Rochester.
Fans at Blue Cross Arena should be treated to a fast and physical game as both these teams are looking to get back on track with a big win.
Opening face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday night. The game can be watched with a subscription on the B/R Live app which is available on the web or through iTunes, Google Play, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.