The Rochester Knighthawks dismantled the Calgary Roughnecks 17-6 in front of 4,596 fans at the Blue Cross Arena Saturday night. The offensive explosion by the host Knighthawks flew in the face of the 2016-17 season. The 17 goals scored would have been their best effort by two goals, and they only managed to score double-digit goals in seven of the 18 games.
New faces and health went a long way towards that success, and perhaps most importantly, the health of the 2014 National Lacrosse League Most Valuable Player, Cody Jamieson. The night’s third star in his first action since the 2016-17 season opener finished with four point (1+3) which may not have lit up the stat sheet, but the bounce in the step of the Rochester offense was unmistakable
“He’s been missed in this locker room,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “Tonight, coming back, he gave us a bit of a boost. He’s a special player.”
“It means the world to this organization,” said Rochester forward Joe Resetarits. “He’s been the best player in the world for years. He’s the heart and soul of this organization. His presence, let alone his ability, but his presence… just makes everyone better. For his first game back after what he’s been through, he looked pretty darn good.”
“Forget about the fact that he can control the offense, run the power play, score goals,” said Knighthawks forward Dan Dawson. “He’s the franchise player and the emotional lift. He makes everyone that much better. Not even through his play, but just being there. You never really understand how good he is, because he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. The emotional lift we got from him tonight is exactly why we got the result we did.”
For Jamieson, it was not about the stats. It was about being back on the floor. After the game, when all the fans had left, his eyes still took in the stands while talking about the game.
“It feels good,” said Jamieson. “It felt like a very, very long time. Felt longer than a year. Feels good to be back. This is what I love doing. I love being back.”
It cannot be overlooked that he reached a milestone in his career after scoring with just under four minutes to go in the first half, reaching the 200-goal mark.
“It was inevitable, right? Come on!” he said with a laugh. “I was at 199, it was inevitable. It’s good. It shows longevity. It shows I’ve been around a long time. It’s an honor that later on in my career I’ll look back on. Hopefully I can get to three!”
While the 17 goals were certainly huge for Rochester, the six goals against were a testament to the defense and goalie Matt Vinc. He finished the night with 40 saves on 46 shots, coming up with highlight-reel saves that left the fans in the seats alternating between speechless and cheering out of their minds. He naturally deflected any praise onto the team.
“We wanted to play a full 60 minutes,” said Vinc. “When we have that offensive explosion, it allows us to settle in on defense and play pretty tight and play with a lot of confidence. . . Coming in with a positive attitude, I had a pretty good summer, getting a guy like Jammer back. I think we drafted well, added Billy Dee Smith, so a lot of those things, it brings a lot of energy to our group.”
“He was on a mission,” Hasen said.
Just down the hall from the jubilant Knighthawks locker room, it was a much quieter scene outside the visitor’s locker room. Yet Calgary’s head coach, Curt Malawsky, was not dissuaded from looking forward.
“You always learn more from a loss than a win,” said Malawsky. He expects to see a big response from the locker room as they turn their eyes to taking on the Vancouver Stealth at the Scotiabank Saddledome December 15. His faith in starting goalie Frank Scigliano did not waiver despite Scigliano allowing 10 goals on 29 shots before being replaced by Christian Del Blanco. He knows exactly how Scigliano will respond and believes the locker room will do the same.
There are certainly lessons to be learned for Calgary. Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Tyler Digby, and Wes Berg were held without goals and each only managed one assist apiece. The Roughnecks struggled on faceoffs, only winning seven of 27. Malawsky knows there is always going to be adversity in the National Lacrosse League, and he would rather his team encounter this kind of adversity early in the season rather than in the heat of a tight playoff race as the season winds down.
Malawsky also touched on how different things could have been after a five-minute stretch late in the first quarter if things had gone Calgary’s way. The Knighthawks took three consecutive penalties and actually went down two men twice in that space, but the penalty killers and Vinc did their job, preventing Calgary from taking advantage. The Knighthawks held a slim 3-1 advantage after the first quarter before breaking the game wide open in the second quarter, taking an 11-3 lead into halftime. Malawsky knows it was a lost opportunity and one of the lessons his team can certainly learn from going forward.
Rochester gets a bye week to rest up after their offensive explosion before opening up this season’s installment of the Thruway Rivalry with the Buffalo Bandits on December 23 back at the Blue Cross Arena.
Three stars of the game as voted by the media:
- Matt Vinc
- Dan Dawson
- Cody Jamieson