K-Hawks Top Riggers, Later Clinch Playoff Spot
The Rochester Knighthawks didn't need to attempt a last-second comeback attempt to defeat the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday night.
The Knighthawks never surrendered the lead after Alex "Kedoh" Hill gave Rochester lead midway through the second quarter with a beautiful behind-the-back goal en route to a 14-12 victory.
"It's real pivotal. Every game here on in is pivotal. It's playoff lacrosse right now," said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen.
Having won, Rochester (6-8) clinched a playoff berth after Washington was beaten Saturday night by Minnesota, which also secured a spot. Although Calgary (11-4) has already punched its postseason ticket, head coach Dave Pym was not happy about his team's performance.
Last week, the Roughnecks survived a late flurry of scoring attempts to escape with a 15-14 home win over the Knighthawks. Calgary's first loss in seven road games this season snapped a six-game winning streak and dropped the club one-half game behind first-place Colorado in the West Division.
"It's tough to play a team twice in a row and get those wins. But we got to be better all over the floor. This one we have to take home like right now, and be (ticked) off...that we lost this game. It does not sit real well right now," said Pym.
Calgary led early, but was outscored 5-1 in the second quarter, and trailed 7-5 at halftime.
"It was really good, especially the last week where they took it to us in the second quarter. That was one focus that we had tonight was eliminate their run on the second quarter, and it was good to see we got on ours. It was nice," said Hasen.
Trailing 14-8, the Roughnecks scored the final four goals to nearly tie the game, but it wasn't enough to mirror last Friday's wild finish in Calgary.
Johnny Powless, the National Lacrosse League's reigning Rookie of the Week, matched his points total from last week. He led all scorers with seven points (three goals, four assists). Fellow rookie Stephen Keogh also put up the same line as the week before, collecting three goals and three assists.
"I think we moved the ball pretty well. I'm just happy we got the win," said Powless.
The Knighthawks also received strong offensive performances from Cory Vitarelli (three goals), Mike Accursi (two goals, four assists), and Cody Jamieson (one goal, four assists). Every forward on the team finished with at least two points.
"It's dangerous. Our offense, once we get playing the same game and on the same page, it's dangerous. That's only a little bit of what we do, right? If we play a full game and we're just constantly playing for each other, we'll get victories like that," said Hill.
The Roughnecks greatly missed starting goaltender Mike Poulin, who was scratched due to an ankle injury suffered at the end of last week's win over Rochester. Frankie Scigliano made his first career NLL start, and had 38 saves on 52 shots.
"[Poulin's absence] is huge. He's been playing huge all year. When he needs a rest, he needs a rest, so we gave Frankie a chance," said Shawn Evans.
Evans was named the Offensive Player of the Week after a nine-point performance in his first game against his former team. In the rematch, he and Jeff Shattler scored two goals and added four assists to lead the Roughnecks.
"I was just ready to play and ready to go. I just take one game at a time. Unfortunately it was in Rochester and unfortunately we lost tonight," said Evans.
Although he didn't score any points, Geoff Snider was impressive in his first game since March 30. He scooped up 28 loose balls, won 22-of-26 face offs, and forced three turnovers. On many of Snider's faceoff attempts, Rochester put four defenders on the back end, seemingly expecting him to win the draw.
"He gives us an opportunity to have that many more possessions. If we get 10 or 12 or 14 or 15 more possessions a game, and it translates into two or three more goals if our shooting percentage is good, then go ahead, give us the ball. We'll take it every single time," said Pym.