The Rochester Knighthawks (5-3) welcome the Calgary Roughnecks (1-6) back to Blue Cross Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET for the first time since the riveting finale to the Champion’s Cup Finals last season. Watch on NLL LIVE in the U.S. and TSN GO in Canada.
The Knighthawks are coming off an overtime thriller against the Buffalo Bandits at the BCA last Saturday night. Rochester led 5-4 at the half but found itself down 11-6 in the third quarter before storming back and winning the game 13-12 in overtime.
“It was a big win,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “We got away with one against Buffalo there. We peaked at the right time in that game and made our shots count… It was a team thing there in the third quarter against ‘Buff’. A lot of credit goes to Buffalo there. They picked up their game. We just couldn’t quite match it at that particular time. The good thing about this group is we’ll bend, but we pride ourselves on not breaking. We’ll always keep pushing right to the very end. We did that, had a great fourth quarter and got the W.”
The man who made his shots count the most was Cody Jamieson, scoring a natural hat trick to bring the Knighthawks back and eventually win the game in overtime. He was named second star of Week 8 by Stephen Stamp of IL Indoor.
Even after the excitement of the season sweep of Buffalo, the Knighthawks were quickly focused on the next game. The Roughnecks may have a bad record but no one on Rochester is looking past them. The Knighthawks remember the battle that was the Champion’s Cup Finals against Calgary. It took the mini-game for Rochester to win their league-record third-straight title.
“It’s right back into the fire with Calgary coming to town,” Hasen said. “Their record is nowhere near the type of team they are. They’re going to come in and compete. We’ve got to get to that level.”
“They’re definitely a team that you don’t want to underestimate,” said Knighthawks defenseman Jon Sullivan. “Regardless of their record, they’re the team that was minutes away from winning the championship last year. They’re definitely a team we’re not looking past. We know how hungry they are for wins, so we really need to show up for this one.”
Last year may have been devastating for the ‘Necks, but head coach Curt Malawsky is confident that his team learned from such a disappointing finish.
“I’d be lying to you if I said that the guys aren’t gonna think about it,” Malawsky admitted. “I think the guys are gonna take some extra motivation out of it.”
Fourth-year Calgary defenseman Dan MacRae agrees with what his coach said and will be looking to use the emotion of last year’s loss as fuel for Saturday’s game.
“I think that’s definitely the way you’ve got to take it,” MacRae said. “Use it towards the added motivation. We lost a tight one there last year.”
Despite this year’s record, the ‘Necks are not dwelling on last year’s defeat.
“That was last year and this is this year,” Malawsky stated. “It’s a whole different season, we’re not looking at the 1-6 record, we’re not looking at last year’s championship…it’s not so much what happened last year, it will be more of what we need to get done this year.”
The Riggers coaching staff made a point to its players during last week’s preparation. A message the team really understood.
“The message from the coaching staff last week seemed to relate pretty well and work for the guys,” MacRae said. “It was to take it shift-by-shift, and that’s what we’re gonna be doing going into Rochester. Hopefully, we’re gonna be racking up win number two.”
The Roughnecks finally got its first win of the year after defeating the Vancouver Stealth (3-4) at home by a score of 16-13 last weekend. Calgary had lost its two previous contests to the Stealth and were in jeopardy of dropping the season series. The win has given the ‘Necks some new found energy which should transfer into this weekend.
“Our guys definitely knew what was on the line,” Malawsky said. “We had some great performances from our guys. We know it’s an uphill battle and we’re just going to continue to get better each week.”
Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s game after dropping his appeal of a two-game suspension assessed for a high-sticking incident a few weeks ago during a game against the Stealth.
“We’ve got Travis Cornwall that we could probably slide into the lineup, and he’d play up front for ‘Dobs’ (Dane Dobbie),” Malawsky said. “We’re more than confident that he can battle, compete up there and create some space for ‘Velts’ (Daryl Veltman), and ‘Shats’ (Jeff Shattler).”
The Roughnecks, currently sitting 3.5 games back from the first place Edmonton Rush, are looking to gain some ground in the West Division.
“I’m sure our guys will be fired up to be out there,” Malawsky said.
Prior to the game, the team along with former Knighthawks greats will help induct Casey Zaph, who played with Rochester from 1999-2005, into the team’s Hall of Fame.
Story by Jeremy Pike (@KnighthawksBeat) & Laura Bates (@RoughnecksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Larry Palumbo.