The Rochester Knighthawks kick off their 2017-18 National Lacrosse League season when they welcome the Calgary Roughnecks to the Blue Cross Arena December 9 at 7:30pm ET.
For the Knighthawks and their faithful, Saturday night is a chance to see how the changes on offense are going to come together. Rochester was dead last in goals scored last season with 175 and was the only team in the league to not eclipse the 200-goal mark. Perhaps the biggest reason for the lack of consistent scoring was the loss of 2014 Most Valuable Player Cody Jamieson during the first game of the season. While his status for the start of the season is still up in the air at the time of writing, the Knighthawks expect to have him back in the fold sooner rather than later.
Josh Currier also missed time during his rookie season due to a knee injury. However, he posted 18 goals and 17 assists in 12 games, which was still good for fifth on the team.
His continued development, along with fellow draftmates Kyle Jackson and Dan Lomas, will go a long way towards beefing up the attack. Rochester also added new faces on offense through the draft in Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell from the Ohio State University.
Continuity, whether due to injury or other considerations, was the major issue on offense for the Knighthawks. Joe Resetarits was the only offensive player to appear in all 18 games. Rochester needs the veterans to get and stay healthy this season to turn things around.
While the offense got some tweaks with personnel, the Knighthawks’ defense got an overhaul comparatively. While the stalwarts like Paul Dawson, Ian Llord, Sid Smith, and Scott Campbell are still patrolling in front of goalie Matt Vinc along with the younger yet now experienced Graeme Hossack and Brad Gillies, there are plenty of new faces as well. The Knighthawks added a 15-year veteran of the NLL and the Thruway Rivalry after the Buffalo Bandits released Billy-Dee Smith. Two rookies made the roster on defense as well in Adam Perroni and a third player from the Ohio State University, Jake Withers. Other newcomers looking to make an impact on the back end include Eric Shewell, Greg Longboat, and Mike Triolo.
On the other side of the floor, the Roughnecks were the third-lowest scoring offense in the league. Despite that, Curtis Dickson’s 54 goals led the entire league and his 107 points was good for fourth. Dane Dobbie had 89 points which put him in the top 10 scorers in the league at ninth.
Yet the attack took a hit as Calgary put Wesley Berg on the protected player list, which means the Roughnecks’ third-highest scorer could miss extended action during the season. They also lost the services of Jeff Shattler whose 51 assists were second-best on the team while notching 20 goals.
Rochester’s defense is not the only one featuring some fresh new faces as the Roughnecks look for contributions from rookies Zach Currier, Tyler Pace, and Anthony Kalinich.
How young talent merges with veteran experience for both teams will go a long way to determining who starts off the 2017-18 NLL season with a win.