Game report: Rochester 11 Toronto 7

A week after getting smoked by the Edmonton Rush 16-3, the Knighthawks were in Toronto looking for redemption. And they got it in spades. They matched their total from the previous game at 6:21 of the first quarter, coincidentally almost the same time (6:26) as last week’s game-winner. But then they kept going, eventually scoring 11 on route to an 11-7 win over the Rock. It wasn’t a rout, and the Rock were still in it until the last couple of minutes, but the Knighthawks definitely dominated every aspect of the game. Kevin Crowley made his Rock debut, and Joe Resetarits did the same for the Knighthawks. Each of them scored in their first game, with Resetarits striking first.

Brandon Miller started the game in net for the Rock and he was not sharp, allowing 5 Rochester goals in 13 minutes before being pulled. Nick Rose finished and had a much better game than Miller. He allowed three goals in 2½ minutes early in the second but then only three more over the rest of the game. Matt Vinc, on the other hand, started off strong and got better. But I think the story of this game was the Knighthawks defense. The Rock weren’t getting great looks at all and when they finally could see the net, all they could see (or hit) was Vinc’s chest. The Rochester D was just overpowering and on the few occasions that a Rock forward managed to get through them or get open somehow, Vinc was there to shut the door.

At one point, Damon Edwards and Sandy Chapman came running up on transition with Billy Greer behind them. Edwards was covered and didn’t have much of a shot and so was Chapman, so he passed to Greer. Greer didn’t have a great opportunity and is not known for his scoring touch in the first place, so why wouldn’t Edwards hold it and wait for the Rock offense to get out on the floor? The Rock were already down by at least 5 at this point, so perhaps they wanted to score to get the team fired up, but I really think they should have waited and allowed the offensive specialists to do their thing.

Then again, “doing their thing” wasn’t exactly what the offense was doing all night. Part of it was the strong Rochester defense, but the Rock offense just wasn’t clicking. I don’t know if it was the addition of Kevin Crowley or being without Rob Hellyer (though they managed OK without him last week) or something else, but they just couldn’t get it together. Passes were missed or dropped, players passed instead of shooting, shot when they had no shot, and and just seemed “out of sorts”. Kevin Crowley once tried to get in close and was pushed off to the side, then made a nice (and very Billings-like) behind-the-back pass into the middle where there were no Knighthawks defenders and… no Rock offensive players either. I don’t know if he assumed that someone would be there or just hoped. I’m still trying to decide if it was a good assumption that just didn’t pan out or a dumb pass. In general I thought Crowley played pretty well, getting a bunch of shots as well as throwing some nice picks, and even playing some D when necessary. I’m liking the play of Brock Sorensen more and more every week, and I thought he had a very strong game. Brett Hickey, on the other hand, did not. Hickey was held scoreless, his first such game in a Rock uniform.

Perhaps it was the fact that Jim Veltman was in the building, but there were pass interceptions all over the place in this game. Unfortunately, Veltman inspired the wrong team. I counted at least five Rock passes that were intercepted by Knighthawk defenders. At least one was pure luck – the defender was standing three feet from the passer and just put his stick up and the ball went into it. But most were cross-floor passes that were just caught by a defender in between.

Despite being outplayed for much of the game, the Rock were in this until the dying seconds. If not for the little Rochester scoring spree in the first quarter, the Rock might even have been able to pull a win out of this.

Other game notes:

  • The Rock’s first two goals were the same goal. In both cases, Kasey Beirnes was well outside the crease on the the left side of the floor and shot it into the top right corner, so hard that it bounced straight back out. Unfortunately, there were 10 minutes and 5 Knighthawk goals between those two.
  • A Knighthawk forward (I’m guessing Dan Dawson) tried an Air Gait move into the left side of the net while Rose was on the right side. But Jesse Gamble came in and made a great shoulder save.
  • Just realized that the Rock now have 2/3 of the Philly Wings all-Kevin line from a couple of years ago.
  • The first-ever Rock alumni game was held at halftime, and it was great. It was obvious that the players were having a lot of fun. Did we see outstanding lacrosse? Not especially, but there were some behind-the-back passes, breakaways, and even a patented Jim Veltman pass interception. Oddly, the vast majority of players were defenders – the only non-defenders on the blue team (Team Sanderson) were Matt Shearer and Dean Harrison (who I had never heard of). At one point the blue team’s offensive line consisted of Phil Sanderson, Drew Candy, Ian Rubel, Steve Toll, and Carter Livingstone. Toll was a transition player but the other four were pure defenders.
  • Pat Campbell came way out of his net to play the ball (as Campbell was often wont to do) and someone (Phil Sanderson?) managed to push him into the boards. I thought it might come to blows if the guys weren’t laughing so hard. In another case, Campbell tossed a long outlet pass to Glenn Clark, who was going to catch it while running forwards and looking backwards. Phil Wetherup came out of his net towards Clark and it looked like we were going to have another Corey Quinn moment. The same thing happened in a Bandits/Rock game in Toronto in 2003, when the goalie Quinn came out of his net and just levelled Clark as he caught the pass. The refs decided it was a 5 minute major penalty, and Quinn had to serve it himself. Nothing happened here as Clark missed the pass.
  • Best moment of the alumni game: Phil Sanderson scored on Pat Campbell, then stopped to take a selfie with Paddy. The ref then grabbed Phil’s camera and took a picture of the two of them. Note that play kept going while this was happening.
  • Notable missing Rock alumni: Blaine Manning, Dan Ladouceur, Pat Coyle, Dan Stroup, Chris Gill. I imagine those guys had other things to do.
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