The Rochester Knighthawks (8-3) came north of the border in search of their third straight win. Also looking to put a stop to the red-hot Toronto Rock (9-2) who had won seven in a row. A battle for Eastern Conference supremacy at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario took place in front of 10,244 fans.
Tale of the Tape:
The Rock had outscored the opposition 106-61 while holding the opposition to fewer than 10 goals on four different occasions. Both teams are among the top six on both sides of the ball, but Toronto comes into the weekend with the NLL’s top ranked offense and defense.
It’s no surprise that the Knighthawks have one of the elite offensive tandems in the NLL in forwards Connor Fields and Ryan Smith. The duo has combined for 51 goals and 106 points so far this season. Following his ninth straight multi-goal effort to begin the season, Fields enters the weekend tied for second in the NLL in goals (31), trailing only New York’s Jeff Teat in that category, and sixth in points (59) despite missing one game. Fields is already approaching the franchise marks for goals (35) and points (63) in a single season, currently held by Smith and Holden Cattoni respectively. Fields is also on pace to reach the 100-point mark for the first time in his pro career.
The goalie match-up had Rylan Hartley in net for the Knighthawks against Nick Rose in net for the Rock.
A defensive struggle in the first half had the Knighthawks up 4-3. Both goalies were spectacular in the half, robbing players time and time again. The half was highlighted by two energetic tilts. Bill Hostrawser and Tyler Biles were the first bout, followed by Brandon Slade and Ethan Schott.
The third quarter had the Rock tie the game up quickly, but Rochester then took over opening up a three goal lead. With just 0:53 seconds left in the quarter a power-play goal by Corey Small ignited Toronto. The Rock scored three to take their first lead of the night, but a power-play goal by Connor Fields knotted the game up at 8-8. With just over five minutes to go in the game, Brandon Slade converted a long lead pass from Nick Rose while diving through the air to give the Rock the 9-8 victory.
To The Game:
Brad Gillies opened the scoring in transition off a Tyler Halls pass at 2:59, but was answered by Dan Craig converting a Dan Dawson pass at 6:05. The assist was Dan Dawson’s 1500th career point, making him only the second player in NLL history to ever achieve this milestone.
Thomas Hoggarth regained the lead for the Knighthawks converting a Connor Fields pass at 7:26, but a power-play goal by Tom Schreiber at 9:57 tied the game.
After one quarter, Toronto 2 Rochester 2.
Turner Evans scored off a Connor Fields pass at 0:46 seconds, followed by Holden Cattoni with a blast also off a Fields pass. Corey Small converted a Stephen Keogh feed with just 1:17 left in the quarter to cut the Rochester lead to just one.
At the half, Rochester 4 Toronto 3.
A strange goal to start the second half. Rylan Hartley was at the bench to give Rochester a 6 on 5 opportunity. The ball was turned over and Sheldon Burns converted a Brad Kri pass firing from the restraining line into the empty net to tie the game at 1:54.
Holden Cattoni gave the Knighthawks the lead again firing a Curtis Knight feed past Nick Rose at 3:34, followed by Ryan Smith on the power-play converting a Cattoni pass at 10:13. Connor Fields got his first of the night for Rochester finishing off a Curtis Knight pass at 12:34.
The Rock, who had struggled to this point offensively, got on track at the end of the quarter when Corey Small blasted a power-play goal to the far post with just 0:51 seconds left in the quarter.
After three quarters, Rochester 7 Toronto 5.
The Rock carried the momentum they built at the end of the third into the fourth. Zach Manns converted a behind the back pass from Tom Schreiber just 0:24 seconds into the quarter.
Latrell Harris sent Phil Mazzuca in all alone with a beautiful long lead pass. Mazzuca made no mistake faking then scoring top shelf for his first career NLL Goal at 3:48 to tie the game. Dan Craig was left alone behind the net, recieved the Schreiber pass and dove to score the go ahead goal at 5:03.
Connor Fields blasted a power-play goal to the shortside off a Thomas Hoggarth pass at 6:57 to tue the game once again. Brandon Slade, with a great individual effort off a Nick Rose long lead pass, dove across the crease for the go ahead goal at 9:33.
An intense five minutes insued, with the Knighthawks throwing everything at the Rock. The Toronto defense, and goalie Nick Rose were able to withstand the challenges for the victory.
Final score, Toronto 9 Rochester 8.
The Three Stars:
- Brandon Slade
- Nick Rose
- Rylan Hartley
- Shots on goal favored Toronto 65-54.
- TD Ierlan was almost perfect on faceoffs for the Rock going 19 for 21.
- The loose ball battle went to Toronto 76-63.
- Both teams went 2 for 3 on the power-play.
- Connor Fields 2G, 7A
- Holden Cattoni 2G, 1A
- Curtis Knight 0G, 3A
- Tom Schreiber 1G, 3A
- Corey Small 2G, 1A
- Dan Craig 2G, 1A
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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.