NLL: Knighthawks outlast Riptide in second longest NLL game ever

New York Riptide @ Rochester Knighthawks. February 25, 2023. (Photo: Micheline V)

“I feel like I’ve been through a war, so I can’t imagine what the players feel like today,” laughed Rochester Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen on Sunday morning.

He and six of his Knighthawks’ players arrived at Champs Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Peterborough Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to receive their Mann Cup championship rings. They had beaten the New York Riptide 11-10 just 13 hours earlier in the National Lacrosse League’s second-longest game in league history.

Give them time to shower and eat after the game, and a four-to-five hour to drive back to Peterborough, and sleep was minimal after winning their eighth game of the season.

Mitch Ogilvie went right back to school in Guelph after the game, and then drove to Peterborough in the morning.

“Down the stretch you could see it in guys’ bodies and faces; guys were getting tired and cramping,” Ogilvie said, “but you just have to push through and keep going.

“Coming off a bye week, we were well rested and New York was rolling. Jeff Teat’s playing the best lacrosse in the league right now. They pushed us to our limit.”

Teat, the league leader in goals scored, found the back of the net four times. In his three prior games, he has scored five, seven and six times, respectively, so the Knighthawks did their job.

“Matt Gilray, Brad Gillies and Ryland Rees are such strong defensemen in every sense of the word,” Ogilvie praised. “Containing people, keeping them to the outside, pushing them around and then pushing the ball up the floor.”

Gillies scored the winner in transition at 74:02 after a fast-and-furious overtime period. New York had 11 shots on goal while Rochester had 10 in the extra frame.

Rochester led 10-6 at the start of the fourth, but New York brought the heat in the final quarter. Tyler Digby scored a goal for his four-month-old son Jayce, who was at his first lacrosse game. Reilly O’Connor scored with 3:05 left. Teat scored with a minute and a half left to close the gap to a goal. And Ron John got free on the transition break to tie the game with 55 seconds left.

Connor Fields led Rochester with a hat trick and two assists. Gillies also had a hat trick. Ryan Smith scored once and added three assists. A highlight of the game was captain Paul Dawson’s transition goal. in the third quarter. Rylan Hartley made 44 saves in goal.

In addition to Teat, Kevin Brownell had a great game for New York with three goals and one assist. Steven Orleman made 53 saves.

The win moved the Knighthawks back into a three-way tie for first place with Buffalo and Toronto.

“It should be us at number one when the season ends,” said Ogilvie. “But there are a couple of other really good teams in the East. We have a big matchup against Toronto next week (Saturday, 7 p.m. TSN+/ESPN+) and that will really help to set the standings and see where we are.”

The league’s longest game was on February 20, 2010, when the Boston Blazers beat the Orlando Titans 12-11 in 76:06 (double overtime). Matt Vinc made 46 saves in the loss, and Orlando’s Paul Dawson fought former Rory Smith.