Knighthawks Put League On Notice with Sixth Straight Victory

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

The Rochester Knighthawks (6-0) remained the only undefeated team in the league heading into the week eight showdown with the Buffalo Bandits (4-2).

Through five games, the defense had allowed just 48 goals, which averages out to be about 9.6 goals allowed per game. Offensively, the Knighthawks have multiple players that can go off on any given night and have scored 69 goals on the season, which ranks second in the Eastern Conference. In terms of goaltending, Rylan Hartley has been the mainstay, starting every game thus far for Rochester and leading the league in wins (5) and ranking third in saves (198).

Buffalo, who sat in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 overall record, brought some heavy offensive firepower. Bandits forward Josh Byrne currently leads the league with his 20 goals and 37 points, while forward Dhane Smith leads the league with his 31 assists and is right behind Byrne with his 36 points.  Additionally, the Bandits will have veteran netminder Matt Vinc between the pipes. Vinc is right behind Hartley with his 4-1 overall record while they rank even with an 80% save percentage. He’s currently tied for the league lead with 199 saves.

The goaltending match-up had Matt Vinc in net for the Bandits against Rylan Hartley in net for Rochester.

This game was a tale of two halves. The Bandits, led by Josh Byrne (4g,4a) and Dhane Smith (4g,2a) jumped out to an 8-5 first half lead. The second half had the Knighthawks out score the Bandits 10-4. Ryan Smith (5g,4a), Connor Fields (3g,5a), Holden Cattoni (3g,4a), and Thomas Hoggarth (2g,3a) led a balanced Knighthawks attack to the 15-12 victory. Rylan Hartley was outstanding in net making 45 saves in the game.

In the game Buffalo goalie Matt Vinc set an all time minutes record, reaching and surpassing 14,000 minutes.

To The Game:

After just over a half quarter of scoreless play, Buffalo finally got on the board when Brad McCulley converted a Dhane Smith pass at 7:44.  Tehoka Nanticoke increased the Bandits lead when he picked up the rebound in front of Rylan Hartley off a Nick Weiss shot at 9:18. Dhane Smith added another goal off a Josh Byrne feed on the power play just 0:26 seconds later.

Thomas Hoggarth got the Knighthawks on the board with a laser from the outside off a Turner Evans pass at 12:36.

After one quarter, Buffalo 3 Rochester 1.

Second Quarter:

Josh Byrne increased the Bandits lead when Steve Priolo caught him with a pass in transition at 1:18. 

Ryan Smith had back to back tallies to get the Knighthawks back in the game. His first was on the power play when he fired a long shot off a Curtis Knight pass at 1:57, followed by a goal in transition off a Matt Gilray feed at 2:59.  Curtis Knight tied the game up going in all alone on Matt Vinc with a shot over his left shoulder at 3:42. 

Buffalo came back with Joel Tayler scoring all alone in front of Rylan Hartley off a Kyle Buchanan feed at 4:09, but Connor Fields answered back with a great shot to the short side off a Ryan Smith feed at 5:44.Β 

The Bandits finished the half with a three goal run.Β  Dhane Smith scored his second of the night off a Brad McCulley pass at 8:07, followed by Brandon Robinson converting a Joel Tayler pass 0:46 seconds later.Β  Josh Byrne then scored his second of the night off a Dhane Smith pass at 10:49.

At the half, Buffalo 8 Rochester 5.

Third Quarter:

The Knighthawks kept fighting and were rewarded with a three goal run in just 1:08.  Ryan Smith’s third goal of the night off a Connor Fields pass at 7:16, followed by Fields himself with his second of the night 0:36 seconds later got them within one.  Matt Gilray scored in transition off a Ryan Smith feed at 8:16 to tie the game up.

The Bandits stopped the run scoring a power play goal.  Dhane Smith converted a Josh Byrne pass at 10:19, but was answered immediately when Holden Cattoni scored off a Curtis Knight pass from in close at 10:51.  Ryan Smith got Rochester their first lead of the night when he scored his fourth of the night off a Thomas Hoggarth feed at 11:09. 

Buffalo finished the quarter with two quick goals.  Josh Byrne scored off an Ian MacKay feed in transition at 13:18, followed by Dhane Smith scoring off a Kyle Buchanan pass 0:22 seconds later.

After three quarters, Buffalo 11 Rochester 10.

Fourth Quarter:

Connor Fields opened the fourth quarter scoring tying the game up for the sixth time, converting a Holden Cattoni pass at 6:02. 

Ryan Smith gave the Knighthawks the lead once more when he dove from behind the net putting it by Matt Vinc at 10:08.  Holden Cattoni scored the next two goals for the Knighthawks.   The first gave Rochester a two goal lead when he fired from in close off a Curtis Knight pass at 10:59, followed by a power play goal off a Ryan Smith pass at 11:29.  Thomas Hoggarth scored the Knighthawks fifth goal of the quarter to the top corner off a Smith feed at 12:06.

Buffalo finally got on the board in fourth when Tehoka Nanticoke, with a great individual effort, got the ball to Josh Byrne, who made no mistake at 13:13, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Knighthawks on this night.

Final score, Rochester 15 Buffalo 12.

The Three Stars:

  • First Star – Ryan Smith
  • Second Star – Connor Fields
  • Third Star – Josh Byrne

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Rochester 60-56.
  • Buffalo dominated faceoffs 24-6.
  • The loose ball battle went to the Bandits 80-68.
  • Buffalo was 2 for 4 on the power play, while Rochester was 2 for 5.

Top Scorers:

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Josh Byrne 4g, 4a
  • Dhane Smith 4g, 2a
  • Kyle Buchanan 0g, 3a

Rochester Knighthawks:

  • Ryan Smith 5g, 4a
  • Connor Fields 3g, 5a
  • Holden Cattoni 3g, 4a

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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.