By Jeremy Pike | Staff Writer
The Rochester Knighthawks (2-3) return home to the Blue Cross Arena Saturday February 11 to host the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush (3-2). The two teams met earlier in Week Four when the Rush took down Rochester 16-8 at the Sasktel Centre.
The Knighthawks are coming off a tough 10-9 overtime loss versus the New England Black Wolves. Joe Resetarits scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to force the extra period after a furious second half that saw the Knighthawks score eight goals including five straight spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. However, Chad Culp scored the overtime winner for New England only 1:53 after the opening face-off.
The Rush are coming off their third-straight win after knocking off the Calgary Roughnecks 15-11. Ben McIntosh had a six-point night (3+3) along with fellow forward Robert Church (1+5). The Rush trailed 8-7 at the half but were able to take command in the second half, holding Calgary scoreless in the third quarter.
The Knighthawks will have Cory Vitarelli for the second-straight game after he made his 2017 debut versus New England. The team needs to improve their scoring after averaging 9.2 goals through the first five games of the season and have only eclipsed the double-digit scoring mark once in their Week Two 15-8 victory over the Black Wolves. The team as a whole ranks last in the NLL with a .128 shooting percentage and a .679 shots on goal percentage.
Resetarits has played a key role in Rochester’s last two games with four-point efforts in back-to-back weeks. He notched a hat trick versus the Toronto Rock in Rochester’ 9-8 victory on January 28 and then scored the late goal in regulation to go with three assists versus the Black Wolves.
While Rochester might not be where they want to be in terms of results, goalie Matt Vinc ranks near the top in the league statistically. He ranks second to only the Rock’s Nick Rose in goals against average at 10.79. He is tied with Rose for the league lead with a .798 save percentage. He is also the only goalie to have faced more than 200 shots (213) and the only goalie to have seen 300 minutes of game action.
Vinc will have another tough test as Saskatchewan comes to town. The Rush have not been held under 10 goals this season and average 13.6 goals per game. While Church and McIntosh led the way versus Calgary last weekend, Mark Matthews leads the team with 36 points, good for fourth in the league. The Rush attempted the third-lowest amount of shots in the league so far this season (339) but have the second-highest shooting percentage (.201) and lead the league in shots on goal percentage (.767). Vinc and the Rochester defense have their work cut out for them against on of the most efficient offenses in the league.