The Rochester Knighthawks host the Saskatchewan Rush in Game Two of the NLL Cup Finals on Saturday, June 2 at the Blue Cross Arena. The Rush downed Rochester 16-9 in Game One on Saturday, May 26.
The Knighthawks find themselves with their backs against the wall again. It certainly fits in with a roller coaster of a season that rivals anything local thrill-seekers would want at Darien Lake an hour away from the BCA. After an offensive outburst led them to a 2-0 start, that offense went stagnant over a six-game losing streak that led almost anyone to believe they were out of any playoff picture. In a typical season, who could blame them?
Yet ask anyone in or around the league, and they would say the 2018 East Division race was anything but typical. No team was eliminated nor had any team clinched a playoff berth prior to the final regular season weekend. Rochester took advantage and clawed their way back into contention, securing the second seed before dispatching the New England Black Wolves and the Georgia Swarm to punch their unlikeliest of tickets to the NLL Cup Finals.
All that hard work looked like it would go out the window after Game One. The offense was sloppy and failed to generate many quality opportunities when playing five-on-five. In fact, the offensive woes went beyond just scoring only nine goals but led to six Rush goals in transition.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan would love to see a continuation of the last meeting after they dropped both regular-season match-ups to the Knighthawks. The defense was stellar both in shutting down Rochester’s attack and then getting up the floor and generating chances of their own. The defense was also credited with eight caused turnovers in the game while holding the Knighthawks to only 44 shots on goalie Evan Kirk.
Meanwhile the Saskatchewan offense was determined to break out of the regular-season malaise the Knighthawks forced them into after only scoring 21 goals over two games. While the defense chipped in six goals, it certainly was not for lack of trying as two shooters surpassed 10 shots on goal. Robert Church scored four goals on 14 shots and Ben McIntosh scored twice on 11 shots. All in all, Saskatchewan peppered goalie Matt Vinc with 64 shots in 60 minutes.
With the finals on the line, the Knighthawks will certainly look to Joe Resetarits to kick-start the offense. While he finished with four points, he only found the back of the net once on seven shots. After a 100-point regular season, Resetarits needs to be the engine that drives the Rochester offense to have any shot to send the series back west.
Otherwise the Rush get to celebrate their third title in five years and get their revenge for the 2012 finals where Rochester won their third league title 9-6 and kicked off their historic run of three straight titles.