NLL: Knighthawks take down Rush

On Saturday night the Rochester Knighthawks (4-6) defeated the Saskatchewan Rush (8-2) 16-11 In front of 6,188 fans at Connors and Ferris Field at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. The loss was Saskatchewan’s first on the road this season and for Rochester it was their second win in a row after snapping a six-game losing streak.

The Rush started off in typical fashion scoring the first three of the game and jumping out to an early lead. Robert Church scored 44 seconds into the game as he came off a double screen to beat Matt Vinc. Mark Matthews and Mike Messenger would follow to give the Rush a three-goal lead. The Rush defense was just as strong keeping the Knighthawks’ opportunities at a minimum.

Rochester would respond with three goals of their own while also clamping down on the defensive end. Scott Campbell would score on transition to tie the game at three, but 33 seconds later Ryan Dilks would return the favor on transition and the Rush would lead by one after the first.

That lead would increase just 38 seconds into the second as Matthews put the Rush up 5-3. This would be the last lead the Rush would have for the rest of the game.

Rochester went on a five-goal run with two of them coming from Cody Jamieson, which chased starting goalie Evan Kirk from the game. The teams would alternate goals before Mark Matthews would score on the power play in the final minute of the half and the Knighthawks would lead 9-7.

Austin Shanks would take a pass off the back boards and wrap a shot around Tyler Carlson for a three goal lead in the third. The key to the goal was Cody Jamieson, who came back on defense and stripped Messenger of the ball and fed Cory Vitarelli with a pass who found Shanks open.

Ben McIntosh brought the Rush within a goal on two straight tallies.  His first was scored off a pass from Jeff Shattler as McIntosh would cut inside for the goal. The second came on one of the fastest quick-sticks ever. As the Rush passed the ball around the horn, the trio of Matthews, Shattler and McIntosh went into action as the ball seemed like it never touched any of their sticks as McIntosh would beat Vinc before he could even move. Jamieson would put the lead back to a pair on a power play goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Since the five-goal run, the Knighthawks carried the momentum, and started to remind me of the 2012 championship when these teams met. The Rush carried the momentum into the half, but the second half was all Knighthawks.

For the third time in the game the Rush would start by scoring a goal in the first minute, but Rochester would battle back and keep the two goal lead. McIntosh would record his hat trick on the power play and with just over 11 minutes remaining the Rush drew within a goal at 12-11.

This would be as close as the Rush would get. Rochester would score the final four goals, two on the empty net (Paul Dawson, Graeme Hossack) and Rochester would get a huge 16-11 victory.

Rochester had 11 different players scoring at least a goal and 13 total getting at least a point.

McIntosh and Matthews led the Rush attack each with a hat trick; Matthews added an assist as well. Church was held to only a goal and a pair of assists. Kirk was pulled at 10:49 of the second after allowing eight goals on 27 shots. Carlson stopped 19 of 25 and was tagged with the loss.

For the winning Knighthawks, Cody Jamieson (3G/4A) was in true form. Shanks (2G/2A), Jackson and Josh Currier had 2G/1A each. Eric Fannell had another solid game with four assists. Vinc was credited with the win stopping 41 of 52 shots, some of them big saves to keep Rochester’s momentum going.

The Knighthawks won 20 of 31 face-offs while picking up 98 loose balls to Saskatchewan’s 80.

Both teams are back in action this weekend. Saturday night Rochester will face first-place Buffalo at 7:30 ET on the road. A win brings the Knighthawks within a game and a half of first place. Saskatchewan will return home and face Calgary at 8:30. Saskatchewan holds a three and a half game lead over the Roughnecks.