The Rochester Knighthawks took to the turf in the first of two preseason contests. In a game that was more about auditioning players than the final score, the Knighthawks were edged 12-11 by the New England Black Wolves on Sunday at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
“It gave the young guys a good opportunity to see what’s expected and what’s next. Overall, especially defensively, they were good,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “They’re going to be good. They just have to learn a few things and that will take time, but it’s part of the process.”
Hasen was impressed with the rookie talent on the floor, especially in forward John St. John, who put his agility to the test and was able to net his pro NLL goal in the process. St. John fought his way to the middle to open up his teammates and create scoring opportunities.
“I’ve always dreamed about scoring my first goal in the NLL and I know it wasn’t a regular season game, but it still felt really good,” said St. John. “I think as a team we played really well and it was a really good feeling.”
Rochester was led offensively by Joe Resetarits’ hat trick and Craig Point’s pair of goals. The Knighthawks also got markers from Joe Walters, Joel Matthews, Paul Dawson, Jordan Hall, Ty Thompson and St. John. Goalie Matt Vinc played the entire first half, while Brandon Styres got the nod in the third and Lukas Coote played the final quarter. Vinc was stellar in the second, as the five-time NLL Goaltender of the Year and the defense blanked the Black Wolves.
“Anytime you can get out with the guys, it’s great,” said Vinc. “We are trying to get our defensive systems in place. It was a battle there at first, but once the boys started meshing we settled in pretty good.”
Point scored Rochester’s first goal and fan favorite Joel Matthews followed with a diving goal at the 10-minute mark to get the Knighthawks within one at 3-2. New England answered back with one more before Rochester went to work, taking a one-goal lead with goals from St. John, Point and Resetarits. With less than a second left in the first, the Black Wolves tied it up at five apiece.
Rochester dominated the second, scoring three goals while Vinc silenced the New England offense. Dawson took his shot at the net first, cashing in for Rochester’s sixth goal. Walters then scored with just under a minute left and Resetarits finished off the second with his second of the game at the buzzer, giving the Knighthawks an 8-5 lead.
“It’s fun to get out there and play against someone new and finally get to play with each other instead of against each other in practice,” Resetarits said. “I thought everyone played well and there were a lot of good things to build off of.”
Styres took over the goaltending duties after the half, allowing just three while Thompson netted the Knighthawks only goal of the quarter to give Rochester a 9-7 lead. Hall opened scoring in the final quarter with a bullet to help the Knighthawks regain a two-goal at 10-8. Resetarits also connected for the third time to give the Knighthawks an 11-10 lead midway through the fourth.
“It’s a good start for these guys,” Hasen said. “It’s a big step but overall just a good start for them all. It’s going to be nice getting back home (next weekend) and start getting back into our routines.”
The Knighthawks will be back in action on Saturday, Dec. 12th at Connors & Ferris Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 8:00 p.m. showdown against the Georgia Swarm is free, but fans must have a ticket for entry.