Saturday night the Rochester Knighthawks (8-8) will host the Minnesota Swarm (7-9) in the Eastern Conference Final at The Blue Cross Arena at 4:00 p.m.
This will be the first time the Knighthawks will face the Swarm in the playoffs. It is also the first time the teams are facing each other this season. All-Time the Knighthawks lead the series 10-5. The Knighthawks are 5-2 versus the Swarm at the Blue Cross Arena.
Last week Rochester defeated Philadelphia 10-8 in round one and for the second consecutive year, knocked the Wings out of the postseason in the divisional semifinal round. Dan Dawson registered 4 goals/2 assists. Dawson scored twice in the first quarter as Rochester took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter. The Wings would rally to tie the game at 4-4 with two goals by Drew Westervelt, but the “Dangerous” one scored two of his own as Rochester took a 6-4 lead into the locker room.
The Wings would end the third quarter trailing by one at 7-6, with 2 goals by Kevin Crowley, Rochester’s seventh goal was scored by Stephen Keogh. The Wings came out fast and furious as Brendan Mundorf tied the game at 7-7 just 21 seconds into the final quarter. Then the Knighthawks took over. The Hawks scored three straight; Craig Point, Paul Dawson (GWG) and Mike Accursi respectively for the lead at 10-7. Jeff Reynolds put one past Matt Vinc to make the final 10-8. Vinc stopped 2- of 37 shots.
Rochester goaltender and 2013 Team MVP Matt Vinc was named the NLL Goaltender of the Year for the third time in four years (2010, 2011 & 2013) IN doing this, Vinc becomes the only goalie to win the award three times in his career. Vinc set a new league record with 662 saves in a season and had a led the league with a 10.17 goals-against average and a 80.3% save percentage. Vinc also played a career high 955:29 minutes. He joins Dallas Eliuk as the only two goalies to lead the league in saves on four occasions. Vinc also became the first Knighthawk goalie to record over 600 saves in a season and have a save percentage over 80%
For the Knighthawks they have to be able to slow down the quick offense of the Swarm. As the Swarm average 14 a game and the Knighthawks on average 11. Can Rochesters defense stay with the speed of Jackson, Matisz, Sorenson, Benesch? Can Vinc stand tall again between the pipes to hold the Swarm off? Big question is what is the status of Jamieson and Vitarelli? If these two are not in the line-up, the rest of the Knighthawk offense will have to carry a heavier load. Rochester must maintain a lead, or keep it within reach.
The Swarm will try to run the floor and jump out to an early lead the way they did against Toronto, and force Rochester to play there fast paced game. Tyler Carlson has been sharp and looks to have taken over the #1 spot that he and Evan Kirk have been fighting for. Can the 2013 Transition Player of the Year, Jordan MacIntosh continue his hot streak?
So far this season, the Swarm have scored a total of 239 goals.(14.05 avg/game) but they also allow 12.52 goals a game as well. The Swarm have alsoe put over 20 goals against three of the east teams so far. Toronto and Philadelphia 20, Buffalo 21
In 19 seasons the Knighthawks have advanced to the division finals 14 times and hold a 7-6 record (3-0 home). Overall Rochester has a 9-2 all-time record at home in the playoffs.
Knighthawks career milestones:
• Mike Accursi is five points away from surpassing John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in posteason points and is six points shy of 100th-career playoff point;
John Grant Jr 98 MIke Accursi 94
• Accursi is one game away from tying Rich Kilgour and Jim Veltman for fourth all-time in postseason games played at (25);
• Accursi needs two goals to pass John Grant, Jr. for third all-time in postseason goals;
John Grant Jr. 57 Mike Accursi 56
• Dan Dawson needs six assists to pass Colin Doyle for second all-time in postseason assists.
Colin Doyle 72 Dan Dawson 67
The Champion’s Cup will be held on the weekend of May 10th -12th and will be hosted by the winner of the Calgary Roughnecks Washington Stealth game as both of these teams are a higher seed then Rochester or Minnesota.
Rochester is looking to be the first team since 2010-2011 to return to the Champions Cup Final (Toronto/Washington), and should they win Saturday night, they will try to become the first team since the 2002-2003 Toronto Rock to repeat as Champions.
Tune in to the CBS SportsNetwork at 4pm!!!!