NLL: Jones’ OT winner lifts Warriors past Knighthawks

Rochester Knighthawks v Vancouver Warriors. February 9, 2020 )Photo By Micheline V/ Rochester Knighthawks)

Sunday afternoon the Rochester Knighthawks (1-7) fell to the Vancouver Warriors (4-5) in overtime by a score of 11-10 in front of 4,063 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. This was the second consecutive loss by the Knighthawks in overtime (January 31st loss to Buffalo 16-15). The Knighthawks have now lost five games by a margin of three goals or fewer.

Joel McCready and Mitch Jones tallied four goals apiece for the Warriors. Jones tied the game with five seconds remaining in regulation after Turner Evans gave the Knighthawks a 10-9 lead with under a minute to go. The Knighthawks led the entire way until Jones’ game tying goal.

In overtime both teams had a chance to win the game but both goaltenders came up with big saves. But with 2:05 gone into the overtime, Rochester found itself on the power play. After a save by Penney, the Warriors pushed the ball up to find a streaking Mitch Jones off the bench to beat Hartley for the game winner.

“That’s a chance that you should be burying on the power play, especially in overtime,” Knighthawks’ forward Phil Caputo said after the game. “To give up a goal like that really stings.”  Caputo had a career best four-goal game.

The third quarter seemed like the Knighthawks never came out of the locker room. They were outshot 18-3 in the third quarter, and also kept scoreless for 21:53 after Caputo’s goal at 12:08 of the second quarter.

“I think we just came out a little flat, especially offensively,” Holden Cattoni said of the third. “I think this team kind of thrives off of our offense when we are jamming the ball home and have a lot of energy up front and I think it translates to the back end. We have a lot of veterans up there as well and we have to make sure we’re better in the third quarter.”

Both teams played well in the final 15 minutes with both Hatley and Penney coming up huge for their teams. Hartley made his first career start stopping 47 of 58 shots faced, some of the saves being acrobatic, reminiscent of Hall of Famer Dallas Eliuk.

Hartley made it extremely tough on Warriors shooters as he would come out to the arc of the crease taking away a lot of the angles.

“For me I’ve got to be less conservative,” said Knighthawks’ head coach Mike Hasen. “I was thinking more about clock management as opposed to letting those offensive guys just be creative and take what’s in front of them. That’s on me. That’s one thing that I’ll take credit for and learn from. Our offensive guys are smart enough and if I didn’t put the leash on them you never know what could have happened.”

For Rochester, Phil Caputo (4G), Shawn Evans (2G/4A), and Holden Cattoni (2G/6A) led the Knighthawks offense.

The Vancouver offense was led by Mitch Jones (4G/5A), and Joel McCready (4G/1A).  Eric Penney picked up the win stopping 38 of 48 shots faced.

Vancouver now sits in second place in the wild west, only 1.5 games out of first place as the entire division is only separated by two games.

Vancouver returns to action this Saturday night as they come back East to face the Toronto Rock at 7 p.m.

The Knighthawks return to action on February 22nd as they travel to face the New England Black Wolves.