The Rochester Knighthawks made their franchise postseason debut when they took on the first place Buffalo Bandits in the National Lacrosse League Quarter Finals at KeyBank Center in Buffalo in front of 14,794 fans.
A healthy Buffalo squad could send waves of offense against their opponents. Dhane Smith (36g,96a), Josh Byrne (43g,50a), Kyle Buchanan (21g,37a), Tehoka Nanticoke (21g,18a), and Chris Cloutier (17g,19a) would generate a lot of chances against the Knighthawks defense.
Rochester countered with Connor Fields (52g,60a), Holden Cattoni (40g,44a), Ryan Smith (33g,42a), Curtis Knight (15g,42a), and Thomas Hoggarth (30g,24a) for an equally efficient offense.
The goaltending match-up had 8 time goalie of the year Matt Vinc in net for Buffalo against Rylan Hartley, a former Minto Cup champion, in net for Rochester.
A close game midway through the third quarter with the Bandits leading 8-6, then the roof fell in for the Knighthawks. The Bandits outscored the Knighthawks 12-2 en route to a 20-8 victory. Dhane Smith (3g,7a), Josh Byrne (4g,6a) and Chris Cloutier (3g,5a) led the way for the Bandits, who now get ready to face the Toronto Rock in Banditland this coming Friday night.
To The Game:
The Bandits got on the board early when Ian MacKay converted a Josh Byrne feed from in close at 0:23 seconds. Kyle Buchanan then fired a laser off a Chase Fraser pass at 5:21 to increase the lead to 2-0. On the power-play Josh Byrne scored while tip toeing along the crease line unassisted at 9:56 to increase the lead to three.
After one quarter, Buffalo 3 Rochester 0.
Rochester got back in the game with three straight Holden Cattoni goals. First Cattoni blasted a Connor Fields pass in at 1:38, followed by a top shelf goal unassisted at 3:25, then achieving the natural hat-trick converting a Connor Fields pass at 5:17.
Buffalo regained the lead on the power-play, Chris Cloutier blasted a Josh Byrne feed past Hartley at 8:10, but the Knighthawks answered back when Connor Fields converted a Ryan Smith pass at 9:03.
Cloutier again gave the Bandits the lead with a shot to the top corner off a Chase Fraser feed at 9:47, followed by Dhane Smith with a spin move diving across the crease off a Chris Cloutier pass at 10:36. Smith then scored again from in close off a Tehoka Nanticoke pass at 12:18. Tehoka got one himself with just 0:31 seconds left in the half off a Dhane Smith feed to end the half.
At the half, Buffalo 8 Rochester 4.
Rochester got on the board when Ryan Smith finished a Matt Gilray pass in transition at 1:23, followed by Thomas Hoggarth scoring on the power-play off a Holden Cattoni feed at 4:16.
Buffalo got on the board with Dhane Smith finishing off a Cloutier pass from in close at 7:25. Ian MacKay then picked up a loose ball in his own end, going coast to coast to beat Rylan Hartley at 9:01, followed by the exact same play with Steve Priolo going coast to coast to beat Hartley unassisted at 9:39. Kyle Buchanan added to the lead converting a Dhane Smith pass at 9:57, followed by Josh Byrne firing a howitzer to beat Hartley from the outside off a Chris Cloutier feed at 10:54.
The Knighthawks replaced Rylan Hartley with Riley Hutchcraft in net.
The Knighthawks stopped the bleeding with Curtis Knight finishing off a Ryan Smith pass at 11:16, but Josh Byrne scored his third of the night with a couple of fakes then finishing to the far side at 13:00.
Rylan Hartley returned to the Knighthawks goal.
After three quarters, Buffalo 14 Rochester 7.
Buffalo continued the onslaught with Chase Fraser scoring off a Steve Priolo pass at 0:34 seconds, followed by Brad McCulley converting a Dhane Smith feed at 2:43. Tehoka Nanticoke scored his second of the night from in close at 4:45, followed by Kyle Buchanan’s third of the night off a Dhane Smith pass at 5:13.
The Bandits kept pouring it on with Chris Cloutier’s third goal of the night off a Dhane Smith pass at 5:38, followed by Josh Byrne with a laser off a Kyle Buchanan feed at 7:50.
Buffalo changed goalies, givng Devlin Shanahan some work for the last 6:12 of the game.
Rochester got one final tally with Holden Cattoni converting a Ryan Smith feed on the power-play at 14:05.
Final score, Buffalo 20 Rochester 8.
The Three Stars
- Dhane Smith
- Matt Vinc
- Ian MacKay
Head Coach John Tavares post game
- The shots on goal were tied 58-58.
- The faceoff battle went to the Bandits 19-13.
- The loose ball battle was won by the Bandits 78-63.
- Rochester went 3 for 4 on the power-play, while the Bandits went 2 for 4.
- Holden Cattoni 4g, 2a
- Connor Fields 1g, 4a
- Ryan Smith 1g, 3a
- Josh Byrne 4g, 6a
- Dhane Smith 3g, 7a
- Chris Cloutier 3g, 5a
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Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.