Only three games in week 8 as another one was postponed. And oddly, only four teams saw action as both the Knighthawks and Wings played twice.
Georgia rookie scorers
Last week it was rookie goalies, this week it’s the O guys, and specifically the Georgia O guys. No less than three different Georgia Swarm players scored their first career NLL goal on Friday night: Ethan Walker (scored his second as well), TJ Comizio, and Brad Voigt. All in the same game. And Thomas Semple scored his first last weekend.
And Connor Kirst the week before that. The Swarm have ten rookies on their roster, seven six of which have scored so far this year. The team has only played five games.
Update: The goal credited to Kirst was actually scored by Shayne Jackson. Thanks Ty Merrow for the correction
Philly’s second half
On Saturday, the Wings came out of halftime down 7-5. It had been a fairly even game up to that point, but Paul Day’s message to his team at halftime was something like “Hey guys, whaddaya say we try the old strategy of scoring a buttload of goals and not allowing as many?” which seemed to work. They scored 4 in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, then another four over the next eleven minutes before allowing Rochester another goal. In total, they outscored the Knighthawks 13-3 in the second half and turned a closely-fought battle into a blowout. It wasn’t one of those “this guy got hot and everyone else benefited” situations either – the Wings scoring was all over the place. Only one Wings player, Ben McIntosh, had a hat-trick. Seven different players scored two (oddly, Corey Small had none) including two from Trevor Baptiste directly off face-offs, and Anthony Joaquim added a transition goal in the last minute.
While it’s easy to focus on the offense, don’t forget that their defense stepped up their game as well. The Wings only allowed three goals in the second half and Zach Higgins was excellent throughout the game. I’m surprised he wasn’t one of the three stars.
New York Riptide
Last week I listed the Riptide under “Not Awesome” but I did say that it wasn’t the team that was not awesome, but the fact that they hadn’t yet won. This week, they were awesome. Jeff Teat scored one goal which wasn’t bad but his passing in this game was outstanding. Connor Kearnan scored four and Larson Sundown scored a couple of really nice ones. Callum Crawford still hasn’t looked quite like the “holy crap what a play” Crawford we’ve seen over the last few years but he had a couple of goals and it probably won’t be long before he, Teat, Kearnan, and the rest of the Riptide get it all together. Steven Orleman was great between the pipes and the Riptide transition was strong as well – Scott Dominey in particular had a few transition opportunities that Zach Higgins turned away but the more of those Dominey gets, the more often he’ll start to bury them. New York might have turned a corner with this game; they’re still only 1-4 so there’s still lots of work to be done but now that they’ve got that first win of the season, a bit of the pressure has been relieved.
The Knighthawks and the Knighthawks
At one point in the Knighthawks / Swarm broadcast, Brendan Glasheen said that if the Knighthawks win, it will be the first time they’ve started the season 4-2 since 2007. This is wrong. The team currently known as the Rochester Knighthawks have only played one season before this one. The team that was known as the Rochester Knighthawks before that are now the Halifax Thunderbirds, and they began the 2007 season 4-2. This is why the Rochester expansion franchise should never have been called the Knighthawks. I don’t blame Glasheen – it’s confusing for everyone, both those new to the league and those that have been around for a while. Now, the Philadelphia Wings did the same thing (moved, expansion team took over the name), but I’m OK with that because there was a gap. The old Wings left Philly in 2014 and from then until the 2019 season, there were no Philadelphia Wings. The old Knighthawks left Rochester after the 2019 season. The new Knighthawks were announced literally FOUR DAYS after the 2019 season ended and began play in 2020. We had 4½ years with no Wings, and four days with no Knighthawks. I don’t know what a “long enough” gap would be, but it’s longer than four days.