NLL Preview: Roughnecks Host Knighthawks

The Rochester Knighthawks (5-2) travel across the continent on Saturday to take on the Calgary Roughnecks (4-3) in a battle between second-place teams hoping to strengthen their positions.

Photo Credit: Dan Brodie

The Knighthawks are on a two-game winning streak and are coming off a decisive 17-9 defeat of the Toronto Rock, so they have momentum working for them. Their smothering defense and superb goaltending have kept opposing teams under the 10-goal plateau in every game but one so far this year, making them a very tough matchup for most anyone in the league.

Cody Jamieson is currently eighth in the league in scoring with 40 points and is once again pacing the Rochester offense. Dan Dawson is right behind him with 37 points, giving them an excellent left-right combination up front.

Brad Self is having an excellent year on defense for the Knighthawks. He has accumulated 12 points already as well as a team-high 48 loose balls. His six forced turnovers are tied for second-most on the team with Dylan Evans, Scott Self and Ian Lord; Scott Campbell leads the team in that category with 13.

Matt Vinc is once again looking well nigh invincible in net. The defending Goaltender of the Year has a tiny 8.27 goals against average, good for second in the NLL, and the best save percentage at .823.

The Roughnecks are also on a two-game winning streak and seem to be hitting their stride right now, playing their best lacrosse of the season. They’ve exploded for 35 goals in the last two games while giving up just 22 and their early season issues with penalties seem to be in the past, giving their dangerous and deep offensive unit lots of opportunities to produce.

Defending league MVP Shawn Evans is fourth in league scoring with 47 points and is coming off an 11-point night against the Vancouver Stealth. He seems to get up for games against his former Rochester teammates as he has picked up 25 points against them in three games since being traded to Calgary.

Dane Dobbie and Jeff Shattler each have 37 points for the Roughnecks and Curtis Dickson seems to have found his groove, having scored eight goals in the last two games.

Transition Geoff Snider has been deadly in the face off circle once again, winning 65.5 percent of his draws. He has also contributed 14 points, 100 loose balls and 11 forced turnovers to the cause. Rookie transition Karsen Leung has also put up solid numbers, kicking in 11 points and 33 loosies.

Starting goaltender Mike Poulin has the worst GAA in the NLL right now, at 12.63, but is coming off his best game of the year and could be finding his rhythm.

As has been the case for the last couple years, if the Roughnecks can play a disciplined game and avoid giving up a ton of power play opportunities, they’ll be in great position to win this game. Likewise, if they can turn it into a gunfight, they simply have more offensive weapons than any other team in the NLL. However, if this becomes a defensive struggle, you really can’t bet against Matt Vinc giving up the go-ahead goal.

The action gets underway at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7:00 pm MT.