After a huge 11-7 road win over Toronto, the Rochester Knighthawks (7-4) return home to Blue Cross Arena to take on the Minnesota Swarm (4-8), coming off its 12-8 win against New England, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Watch the game on NLL LIVE in the U.S. and TSN GO in Canada. The two teams met once earlier this season with the Swarm earning a 7-6 victory in overtime at home.
The Knighthawks head home to the site of the convincing 16-3 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Rush last Saturday.
“First and foremost for us is Toronto,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “At the same time, (Minnesota is) in the back of our heads. We’re looking to come home and put forth a much better effort and give our fans something to cheer about. Make up a little bit for last weekend’s debacle.”
“We always pride ourselves on playing in a tough barn and being a tough team to play against at home,” said Knighthawks defenseman Paul Dawson. “Obviously, last weekend we weren’t very tough to play against. I think a bantam team could have beat us. I think we just come back and we’re looking to not only have a good game and hopefully get a win but we’re looking to help the fans out and put on a better show than last week.”
The Swarm made some significant moves at the trade deadline, which will provide a different look for the Knighthawks than earlier in the season. But that is not the top priority for Rochester.
“The big thing first is us and it always is about us and what we do,” Hasen said. “I don’t think it’s [the trades] going to change much. (The Swarm) run the floor so very well and they push the tempo every game both offensively and defensively. We’re going to make sure that we’re prepared for that side of things. I don’t think it matters too much what bodies they change in and out. They’ve got a good system and work their system well.”
One of the moves made by the Swarm was to acquire former Knighthawk Johnny Powless from the Vancouver Stealth. This is Powless’ first game against his former team since he was traded on the day of the 2014 NLL Draft last September.
“We know ‘Pup’ pretty well,” Dawson said. “I’ve only played with him for two years but other guys for the first three years… We know what he brings to the table. It’s going to be a bit weird, winning three championships, two of them myself, with him. He was a big part of the Knighthawks, but unfortunately at the end of the day, our sport is a business and guys do get traded. It will be a bit different to start, but I’m sure after a couple dirty picks and a couple hacks, we’ll get right into it and it’ll be just like another game.”
The last time the two teams met was in Minnesota, where the Swarm took the win with a Callum Crawford goal in an overtime thriller. Minnesota knows they will have to focus on putting all their resolution into Saturday’s game for a similar outcome.
“We’re not looking ahead of Friday night’s game. We need those two points and then we have to beat teams that we’re chasing,” said Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. “So when we come into Rochester, we’re battling for a playoff place and we’re going to put everything on the line.”
For the Swarm, putting everything on the line includes debuting a revised roster. Minnesota no longer has former captain Andrew Suitor and forward Logan Schuss in their possession, but has loaded their arsenal with former Black Wolves captain transition Joel White and three-time NLL champion forward Johnny Powless.
“Rochester won tonight, so that puts us in a tough hole,” Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan told NLL.com’s Maria Jollie after last night’s win. “But that’s what you get when you accept mediocrity for a little while and didn’t execute the way we should’ve. If you want to do anything in this league, you’ve got to beat Rochester. That’s the team to beat. We had luck with them early on in the season and I would suspect that if we go in there and play as tough as we can and stay out of the penalty box and don’t give their offense as many chances as we can, we’ll have some luck with them.”
Story by Jeremy Pike (@KnighthawksBeat) & Maria Jollie (@SwarmBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Adam Borgstahl.