Knighthawks Keep Pace With Bandits & Rock

Gary Groob
All Lacrosse All The Time  – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports Network.

The Rochester Knighthawks (7-2) returned home looking to get back in the win column as they hosted the Halifax Thunderbirds (4-5) in an Eastern Conference showdown at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.

This contest promisesed to be an offensive showdown showcasing two of the league’s top six teams in terms offensive production. The Knighthawks, who opened the season with a franchise-best six straight wins, entered the weekend fourth in the NLL with 101 goals scored and averaging 12.63 goals per game.  The Thunderbirds are averaging the second-most goals per game with 13.88.

Randy Staats, Clarke Petterson, Ryan Benesch and Cody Jamieson leading the way for Halifax while the foursome of Connor Fields, Holden Cattoni, Ryan Smith and Curtis Knight have paved the way for Rochester thus far. It will also be an individual battle between Fields and Staats, who enter the weekend tied for second in the NLL in goals (24) and sixth in assists (31), respectively, with both players appearing in seven of their team’s eight games this season.  The matchup also features two of the top scoring NLL rookies in Austin Hasen of Rochester and Wake:Riat Bowhunter of Halifax, both of whom were selected in the first round by their respective teams in this past year’s NLL Entry Draft.

The goalie match-up had Warren Hill in net for Halifax against Rylan Hartley in net for the Knighthawks.

A game that looked like the Knighthawks had well in hand, became a much closer game than anticipated.  With less than five minutes to go the Thunderbirds rhymed off five unanswered goals to make it into a nail-biter.   Rochester was able to withstand the challenge en route to a 16-14 victory.

Connor Fields (4g,4a), and Holden Cattoni (3g,4a) led the way for Rochester, while Eric Fannell (3g,2a), and Austin Shanks (2g,5a) countered for Halifax.

To The Game:

The Halifax Thunderbirds got on the board first when Eric Fannell scored off a Cody Jamieson pass at 3:03.

Rochester answered with three quick goals.

Ryan Smith scored off a Connor Fields feed on the power play at 8:33, followed by Fields himself scoring off a Holden Cattoni pass at 9:49.  Thomas Vela added to the Knighthawks lead when he converted a Ryland Rees feed in transition, shorthanded at 12:21.

Chris Boushy scored for the Thunderbirds off an Eric Fannell pass at 13:47 to end the quarter.

After one quarter, Rochester 3 Halifax 2.

Second Quarter:

Curtis Knight increased the Knighthawks lead to when he converted a Turner Evans pass at 1:59.  Randy Staats scored for Halifax, buy was answered immediately by Holden Cattoni recovering a rebound off the back boards at 5:46.

Staats and Benesch scored for Halifax to tie the game, but four consecutive goals from the Knighthawks gave them a big lead heading to the half.

The big story in this quarter was the fight and ejection of Halifax faceoff man Jake Withers.  Withers crashed the crease, which created a tussle with Tyler Biles.  Withers got a five minute body checking penalty, and a game misconduct, while Biles got a two minute roughing penalty.

Ryland Rees scored unassisted just 0:04 seconds after the fracas, followed by Thomas Vela scoring off a Turner Evans feed at 10:32.  Connor Fields scored a power play goal unassisted at 11:32, followed by Holden Cattoni converting a Ryan Smith pass at 12:04.

At the half, Rochester 9 Halifax 5.

Third Quarter:

Austin Shanks opened the third quarter scoring for the Thunderbirds converting a long lead pass from Warren Hill in transition at 1:13.  Johnny Pearson got Halifax closer, finishing off a Luke Magnan feed 3:34.  The Knighthawks came back with Connor Fields scoring off an Austin Hasen feed at 3:55, followed by Thomas Hoggarth scoring off a Turner Evans feed at 6:21.

Eric Fannell scored his second of the night off an Austin Shanks pass at 6:51, but was answered back by Ryan Smith finishing off a Connor Fields feed at 7:13.  Brad Gillies increased the lead shorthanded when he finished off a Matt Gilray feed at 8:48.

After three quarters, Rochester 13 Halifax 8.

Fourth Quarter:

Eric Fannell opened the scoring for Halifax with his third of the night off a Chris Boushy pass at 1:44.  Holden Cattoni answered back scoring on the run from the restraining line beating Warren Hill low to the far side at 4:10.

The Thunderbirds replaced Warren Hill with Drew Hutchison at this point.

Matt Gilray welcomed Hutchison to the game scoring in transition at 5:12, firing to the shortside.   Connor Fields fourth goal of the game was a laser from the outside off a Thomas Hoggarth feed at 9:22. 

Johnny Pearson scored his second of the game in transition going from his own end to beat Hartley at 10:58, followed by Cody Jamieson ripping a howitzer to the far side off a  Clarke Petterson feed at 11:40.  Petterson himself scored off an Austin Shanks pass at 12:59, followed by Shanks himself scoring at 13:49.  Cody Jamieson then scored to make this just a two goal game with 0:31.5 seconds left.

The Knighthawks were able to withstand the challenge for the nail-biting win.

Final score, Rochester 16 Halifax 14.

Game Stats:

  • Halifax outshot Rochester 54-53
  • The faceoff battle was 24-12 in favor of Halifax. Of note, Jake Withers was perfect until he received a game misconduct.
  • The loose ball battle went to the Thunderbirds 94-84.
  • Halifax went 0 for 3 on the power play, while Rochester went 2 for 4, also scoring 2 shorthanded goals.

Top Scorers:

Halifax Thunderbirds:

  • Austin Shanks 2g, 5a
  • Eric Fannell 3g, 2a
  • Randy Staats 2g, 2a

Rochester Knighthawks:

  • Connor Fields 4g, 4a
  • Holden Cattoni 3g, 4a.
  • Curtis Knight 1g, 3a

Don’t forget to check us out every Sunday night at 9pm (ET)

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

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.