The San Diego Seals (1-2) will square off against the Eastern Division’s Rochester Knighthawks (1-1) in the team’s 2019 home-opener at Pechanga Arena San Diego Sat., January 12 at 7:00 p.m. PT. Three games into its inaugural season, San Diego eyes its second win in franchise history as it prepares for a Knighthawks squad averaging an NLL-low 8.5 goals per game.
Tickets are available by visiting SealsLax.com/tickets. Lower level tickets start as low as $33 to attend the Seals’ first-ever home appearance at Pechanga Arena. The contest will also be streamed LIVE via B/R Live.
Jon Schaeffer, an accomplished TV and radio sports broadcaster who has appeared nationally on CBS Sports Network, FOX College Sports, ESPN GamePlan and ESPN3, will call Saturday’s game and the rest of the Seals’ games live as the team’s play-by-play announcer, as the team announced on Wednesday. Former NLL general manager Doug Locker will join Schaeffer as the color analyst, and former University of Nevada, Reno graduate Tauli Anderson will be the sideline reporter.
The Seals splashed onto the NLL scene with a 17-12 win over the Colorado Mammoth at Denver’s Pepsi Center, but the team’s hot start went cold quickly with back-to-back road games in Canada on the back-end of its three-game road trip to open the season. Picking up losses to the Calgary Roughnecks and Saskatchewan Rush, San Diego looks to bounce back against the visiting Knighthawks.
Bouncing back starts with the Seals’ top offensive weapon, Austin Staats. Selected with the first overall pick in the 2018 NLL Draft, Staats leads the team in goals scored (9) and shots on goal (33) through three contests. The Six Nations, ON native also leads the Seals in total points with 17.
Staats’ nine goals and 17 points lead all rookies so far this season. He and Philadelphia forward Chris Cloutier, the second overall pick in the 2018 NLL Draft, share the rookie lead in shots on goal (33).
Following the team’s 16-12 loss to the Rush on January 5, Staats spoke to the Seals’ ability to score despite the losing effort and looks forward to finding the back of the net at home this week.
“It was nice being able to generate some offense again this week,” Staats said. “Would’ve been a lot nicer if we came out on top, but we’re getting ready to come out even better next week at home. I’m just thankful to be able to go out there and play with this group day in and day out.”
Seals’ Dan Dawson and Kyle Buchanan, two Ontario natives each with six-plus years of NLL experience, lead the team in assists with 10 apiece. Buchanan, who edges out Dawson in points with 14 through three games this season, has recorded 50 or more points in each of his past five seasons in the NLL.
Expected to pitch in on the assist efforts, veteran forward Garrett Billings picked up four assists in his first game back after being added to the 21-man Active Roster on January 3. The 32-year-old veteran is currently the NLL’s all-time leader in assists-per-game average (3.99), which stands 0.54 assists higher than any other player in league history. Billings missed all of the 2018 season due to injury.
Points will be at a premium with first-year Rochester defender James Barclay on the field. The 2018 NLL Draft’s ninth overall selection, Barclay has forced five turnovers in the first two games of his NLL career. He and Staats, who has turned the ball over 10 times through three games, are bound for a rookie showdown in Pechanga.
Barclay & Co. won’t have it easy on the offensive end, either. Seals goalie Frank Scigliano, who stood in net for Calgary for seven years prior to joining San Diego as 12th overall pick in the 2018 NLL Expansion Draft, ranks third in the league in total saves (140) and owns an impressive 0.791 save percentage though three games. Scigliano stopped 44 shots in the Seals’ game against the Rush last week.
Scigliano will look to continue his strong start against a Rochester offense that has struggled to find the back of the net in its first two games. Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson, a 31-year-old staple to Rochester for the past eight seasons, leads the team in points with eight (4G, 4A).
San Diego stays home at Pechanga Arena for next week’s rematch with Calgary. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT.