Led by Jamieson’s hat trick, Knighthawks advance to NLL Finals for a record 10th time
Saturday night the Rochester Knighthawks defeated the defending champion Georgia Swarm 9-8 at Infinte Energy Arena. The Knighthawks claimed the NLL’s eastern division title and will face the Saskatchewan Rush for the NLL Cup, a best of three series starting on May 26th.
With both teams having depth in their offense to score at any given moment, it was the defense and goaltending that controlled the first three quarters of the game.
After each team scored a power play goal to open the first quarter, Miles Thompson gave the Swarm the early lead just 55 seconds into the second quarter. Cody Jamieson would net his second goal of the game with just under a minute to go into the half to tie the game at two.
“It feels great right now,” said Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson in a press release. “You start off putting these goals in place, and you’re on the top of the world, and then we were at the bottom after those six games. It’s a testament to the character of our group. We’ve got a lot of character. We all care for each other and love each other and battle for each other every week.”
The defense was the story in the first half as both Mike Poulin and Matt Vinc came up huge for their teams on numerous occasions in the first half, stopping fast breaks and odd man rushes.
Rookie Austin Shanks scored twice, including the game winner, as fellow rookie Jake Withers won 14 of 22 faceoffs.
“We were swinging the ball back and forth, and everyone was getting their touches, and that’s when we’re at our best,” Shanks said. “When they forced harder, that’s when we moved the ball the most, and that’s when we scored. It was unselfishness, moving the ball a lot and just taking those shots.”
Matt Vinc stopped 46 of 54 shots in the game to collect the victory along with another record. Vinc passed former Knighthawk and current assistant coach Pat O’Toole and became the all-time leader in post season saves as he collected the win.
“It looked like it was going to be close toward the end there,” head coach Mike Hasen said. “But we held, and Vno made a couple of great saves, and a couple of their shots went wide. It ended in our favor.”
Hasen is now tied with Troy Cordingley and Derek Keenan for second all-time with 14 post-season wins.
Cody Jamieson (3G/1A) and Austin Shanks (2G/1A) led the Knighthawks’ offense.
Miles Thompson (4G/1A) and Randy Staats (2G/3A) led the Swarm.
The Knighthawks will be making their 10th appearance in the league finals, the most by any team in league history. They currently have a 5-4 record in the finals.
Rochester last won the Champions Cup in 2014, when they became the first team to three-peat (2012-2014). In 2012 they faced the Rush (Edmonton) and defeated them 9-6. They and the Rush will be the first to compete for the new NLL Cup.
The Rush, who won the title in 2015-2016, failed in their three-peat attempt as they fell to the Georgia Swarm in 2017.
Game 1 – @ Saskatchewan, May 26th 9:30pm EDT.
Game 2 – @ Rochester, June 2nd 8pm EDT.
Game 3 – @ Saskatchewan TBA (if necessary).