The Rochester Knighthawks return to action after a week off as they host the Georgian Swarm on Saturday March 10 at 7:30 P.M. ET. The Knighthawks (5-6) have had a fascinating relationship with Georgia (5-6) during the season so far. The first time the two teams met, the Knighthawks were off to hot start to the season after two straight wins at home. Then a tumultuous road trip south resulted in a 14-11 loss to Georgia that started a six-game losing streak.
Then came the second visit to the Hive, and the Knighthawks took out their six weeks of frustration with a 17-10 demolition of Georgia. That win kicked off a three-game winning streak that the Knighthawks look to stretch to four on Saturday night.
During that six-game losing streak, Rochester’s offense only managed to score 10 or more goals twice and averaged exactly 10 goals a game (due in large to a 16-14 loss to the Buffalo Bandits). In the three-game winning streak since, Rochester has averaged almost 17 goals a game. The offensive turnaround was staggering.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the turnaround was the disappearance of Dan Dawson. He had been a key member of the last two championship victories and consistently a top point-scorer for the Knighthawks, yet the winning streak began when Dawson was not on the active roster against Georgia. He had not seen the floor at all during the three-game winning streak, then was traded to the Saskatchewan Rush for a pair of draft picks.
Yet in his absence, Joe Resetarits stepped up and took over the offense. He currently sits tied for third in points with 64, and the two players ahead of him have played one more game. He is only two points away from tying his career high, set in 2017. The last time Rochester faced the Swarm, Resetarits led all scorers with eight points (1+7). While he only had three points (1+2) versus Saskatchewan in the 16-11 victory, he came back with a vengeance against his hometown Bandits with an incredible 14 points (3+11) in the 17-10 victory.
Yet with all the focus on offense, goalie Matt Vinc continues a stellar season despite the losing record. He is one of only three goalies that have logged over 600 minutes, posted an 11.96 goals against average, and a stellar .789 save percentage.
Georgia comes to town after taking down the Toronto Rock 12-7 at the Air Canada Centre March 3 after suffering a last-second 11-10 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Mammoth the night before. Goalie Mike Poulin started both games and gave his team a chance to win both.
Surprisingly, the Swarm’s top scorers have not had the same success as they did during the 2017 season when they won the Champion’s Cup. Lyle Jackson led the league with 116 points, but he has only 48 points through 11 games. Shayne Jackson leads Georgia with 53 points, which checks in at 12th for the league. The Swarm will definitely need the offense to step up over the final stretch in order to have a shot at two-straight titles.
Thankfully for both teams with identical 5-6 records, the race for the East Division has tightened up considerably the last two weeks. Buffalo looked to be the class of the East and pulling away, but they have dropped two straight. Now every team in the East has at least five wins, with the Bandits the only six-game winner. The stretch run will be exciting with all five East teams having a shot at the postseason.
Whoever comes out of Saturday night with a victory will close the gap even further, while the loser will be even more desperate to claw their way back into the playoff picture.