The Rochester Knighthawks return to the friendly confines of the Blue Cross Arena Saturday night at 7:30 PM to host the New England Black Wolves. The Knighthawks will not have much rest after playing north of the border versus their division rivals, the Toronto Rock, only 24 hours before taking to the floor Saturday evening.
This tilt will go a long way towards determining who is in the early driver seat for the East Division. While the Knighthawks will have played four games to New England’s three games, they sit atop the standings.
Overcoming adversity is a part of playing in the National Lacrosse League, and the Knighthawks are getting a double dose of it. Travel issues plagued their trip to Georgia to face the Swarm two weeks ago, and they came up short 14-11 in their first road game of the season. They got a week off to recuperate, but now they get their first back-to-back of the season.
One bonus heading into the weekend is the return of forward Dan Lomas. While the offense has put up three straight games of double-digit scoring after never accomplishing that during the 2017 season, more firepower is always welcome.
Lomas was part of the 2017 draft class that shined despite the injuries and inconsistencies. In 14 games, he put up 38 points (15 + 23) while acclimating to the league. Getting him back should add even more scoring ability to the second-ranked offense in the league averaging 16.3 goals per game.
However, Lomas’ activation requires a corresponding move, and Rochester put defender Billy Dee Smith on injured reserve. The defense has only allowed 31 goals over three games, and losing him could be a big blow.
How the Black Wolves capitalize on that will be interesting to see. They average 12.3 goals per game, four goals less than Rochester. The Black Wolves will want to pick up where they left off against the Vancouver Stealth where they spread the scoring around with eight players scoring a goal and 13 players getting a point. A balanced attack will force the Rochester defense to be on their toes all game long.
The Black Wolves’ defense will have to step up as well. During their two victories, they limited Georgia to 11 goals and the Stealth to 9. However, in their lone loss on the season, they allowed the Saskatchewan Rush to put up 24 goals in a thorough drubbing. Which defense shows up will likely be the deciding factor in this game.