A thrilling game at Blue Cross Arena was capped off by Mitch Jones streaking off the bench to score a shorthanded goal in overtime to give the Vancouver Warriors (4-5) an 11-10 road win over the Rochester Knighthawks (1-7).
The Knighthawks were in the lead for most of the game, but the Warriors chipped away as they went 3 for 3 on the power play and found some holes in the Knighthawks defense in the second half. Rochester led 10-9 with under 30 seconds left, but Vancouver was able to get the ball back to tie the game and send it to overtime. In overtime, both teams had chances to win it, but the Knighthawks found themselves with a great opportunity as they went on the power play.
However, the Warriors pushed the ball up the floor off of a save and Jones’ shorthanded goal would ultimately be the dagger.
“That’s a chance that you should be burying on the power play, especially in overtime,” Knighthawks Forward Phil Caputo said after the game. “To give up a goal like that really stings.”
Caputo shined offensively for the Knighthawks as he scored a career high 4 goals in the game.
“I think it’s just the guys around me finding me,” Caputo said. “We’re working well as an offensive unit, but personal success doesn’t mean much if you don’t win.”
Knighthawks’ goalie Ryan Hartley also impressed in his first NLL start making 46 saves. Hartley was dynamic in net stepping up on a high arc to make it hard for Vancouver’s shooters and making acrobatic split saves including back to back saves to keep the game close in the 4th Quarter.
A stagnant 3rd Quarter by the Knighthawks offense in which they only got off 2 shots on goal was a turning point in the game.
“I think we just came out a little flat, especially offensively,” Knighthawks Forward Holden Cattoni said looking back at the 3rd Quarter. “I think this team kind of thrives off of our offense when we are jamming the ball home and have a lot of energy up front and I think it translates to the back end. We have a lot of veterans up there as well and we have to make sure we’re better in the 3rd Quarter.”
Two weeks in a row the Knighthawks have been up by a goal with under 30 seconds left in the 4th Quarter and have given up the ball only for the other team to tie the game with less than 10 seconds left. Knighthawks’ Head Coach Mike Hasen puts the blame on himself for these last minute breakdowns.
“For me I’ve got to be less conservative,” Hasen said about his decision making at the end of the game. “I was thinking more about clock management as opposed to letting those offensive guys just be creative and take what’s in front of them. That’s on me. That’s one thing that I’ll take credit for and learn from. Our offensive guys are smart enough and if I didn’t put the leash on them you never know what could have happened.”
The Knighthawks offense was led by Caputo as well as Holden Cattoni scoring 2 goals and dishing out 6 assists and Shawn Evans scoring 2 goals and adding 4 assists.
Mitch Jones, the NLL’s leading scorer, scored the game tying and winning goals to finish the night with 4 goals and 5 assists and secure a much needed win for the Vancouver Warriors. Joel McCready also scored 4 goals while Keegan Bal scored 2 goals and had 2 assists to help lead the Vancouver offense.
Warriors goalie Eric Penney struggled a bit early in the game, but came up with some big saves when it mattered most including 3 saves in overtime.
Vancouver will be back in action next weekend as they take on the Toronto Rock. Rochester will have a bye week before returning to action on Feb. 22 to face the New England Black Wolves at Mohegan Sun Casino.