February 20, 2010

Gait Awakens in Knighthawks' Win over Wings

by Patrick Gordon | NLL.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Gary Gait scored four goals, and Shawn Williams chipped in with two goals and four assists to lead the Rochester Knighthawks over the Philadelphia Wings, 12-6, in front of 10,019 fans at the Wachovia Center on Saturday.

John Grant cemented the Knighthawks' (5-3) win with his goal late in the fourth quarter. He finished with six points.

With just nine games remaining on the schedule, the loss dealt another devastating blow to the Wings (1-6) chances at a postseason berth.

"I thought we were in the game for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter," said Wings Head Coach Dave Huntley. "I think we had forced a number of turnovers, and had good transition opportunities, but I don't think we got a shot for three minutes and we threw the ball away. The next thing you know, we have a parade to the penalty box and that's a team you can't foul."

Special teams have been a weakness for Philadelphia all season, and that trend continued Saturday night. The Wings surrendered eight power play goals on ten opportunities, and notched just one power play goal in seven opportunities. Philadelphia entered the contest ranked 10th in the league on the power play, and eighth in the league on the penalty kill.

"It seems we get a nice lead going, then take some penalties and the other team is right back in it," said Wings defender and team captain Thomas Hajek. "We got in that rut when it was 8-6, and took a few bad penalties and things snowballed from there. We just couldn't get on track."

The win pushes Rochester to within a game of Toronto for the top spot in the Eastern Division, and snapped a three-game road losing streak.

Shawn Evans notched six points (1 G, 5 A), and goaltender Pat O'Toole made 34 saves in the winning effort.

"We just kept grinding," said Knighthawks Head Coach Paul Gait. "We didn't have a lot of luck early, and we still didn't have that many five-on-five goals tonight, but it really was our special teams that won the game."

Chris Schiller's power play goal near the 11-minute mark in the third quarter brought the Knighthawks even with the Wings, and Williams's power play goal nearly a minute and a half later pushed Rochester ahead with a 6-5 lead. John Christmas followed with a goal to bring the Wings within one, but the Knighthawks added two more in the frame to go ahead for good.

The teams exchanged goals throughout the second quarter until Gary Gait notched a power play goal with just over four minutes remaining in the opening half, cutting the Wings' lead to 5-4.

The Wings scored three goals within the first four minutes of the first quarter to jump ahead early, but Steve Toll notched a short-handed goal on a breakaway to cap off the opening frame.

"It seems like every game this year we've spotted teams a lead," Grant said. "Philly is pretty famous for getting out to fast starts here, so we just had to hold our composure, and play our game."

Kyle Wailes, who entered the contest tied with Drew Westervelt as the Wings' leading goal scorer, finished with a pair to go along with an assist. Westervelt finished with two assists. Dan Teat chipped in with two goals and two assists.

"I think it comes down to decision making," Huntley said. "We have to play mistake free lacrosse, and we have to reduce the errors, and reduce the penalties. It seems to get us every game, a four minute period where we have penalties and errors, and that's what's happening."

Rochester is home next Saturday to take on the Edmonton Rush at 7:35pm ET at Blue Cross Arena, while the Wings head to Buffalo to face off against the Bandits at 7:30pm ET at HSBC Arena.


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