February 11, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
The Rochester Knighthawks earned two decisive victories in their first weekend of back-to-back games in the 2013 National Lacrosse League season.
With a 20-10 win over Philadelphia on February 8th and a 15-7 victory over Buffalo on February 9th, the Knighthawks (3-3) evened their record at .500 and moved into a tie for second place in the East Division with the Bandits.
After scoring a combined 39 points in the first four games of the season, the Knighthawks exploded for 35 over the weekend. Rochester currently leads the league in goal scored in a single game (20) and largest margin of victory in a game (10). Also, the 35 goals is the most over a two-game span since Rochester scored 36 in victories over Chicago and New York on March 17, 2007 and March 24, 2007 respectively.
Against the Wings on Friday, former Philadelphia forward Dan Dawson scored a season-best 11 points (4+7), doubling his total points from the first four games. His third goal of the game was his 350th career goal. After adding five more points (1+4) against Buffalo, Dawson is now only two points shy of 900. Mike Accursi gave Philadelphia no mercy with a four-goal performance. The 16-year pro currently has 375 goals and is five points away from 800. Joe Walters set a career-high with four assists and five points against the Wings.
Cody Jamieson recorded 16 points (5+11) over the weekend, including a career-high seven assists against the Bandits. He is five assists away from his 100th. He currently leads Rochester with 12 goals and 33 points.
Cory Vitarelli scored a team-high four goals against the Bandits on Saturday night, putting together a highlight reel of shots in the fourth quarter. His diving one-timer off a behind-the-back feed from Stephen Keogh was ranked seventh on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays from Saturday. His first goal of the fourth quarter was an over-the-shoulder shot, and his final tally was a cross-crease dive.
Speaking of Keogh, he added 10 points (5+5) over the weekend. He sliced through Buffalo's defense all night, scoring shorthanded to give Rochester an early 2-0 lead, and in the second quarter, he split Derek Suddons and Steve Priolo on the crease for the second goal of his hat-trick performance.
Casey Powell surpassed a career milestone in Buffalo on Saturday night as well. The 10-year veteran earned his 350th assist on Keogh's second-quarter goal. He finished with five points (1+4) against the Bandits and eight (3+5) on the weekend. The 19-year-old Johnny Powless scored once in each game, extending his goal-scoring streak to a team-high 11 games, dating back to last season.
Defensemen also contributed greatly to the scoring action. Defenders accounted for 15 points (4+11) in the two games combined. Brad Self led all defensemen with six points (1+5). Tyler Burton entered the weekend with two career goals, but doubled that total with one in each game. Dylan Evans (0+2), Mike Kirk (0+2) and Ian Llord (0+1) all earned their first points of the season.
Goaltender Matt Vinc was stellar in net, making 97 saves on 114 shots. He won his 50th game against the Wings and shutout Buffalo in the first quarter. In both games, he only surrendered two first-half goals. Vinc leads the league with a .812 save percentage, and in Rochester's three-game win streak, Vinc has a .858 save percentage with an average of eight goals against.
Special teams played a major role in the win over Buffalo. The Knighthawks were 3-of-6 on the power play, including two goals on a five-minute high-sticking major by David Brock. On the other hand, they killed all six penalties, blanking the Buffalo power play unit while scoring shorthanded in the first quarter. Rochester leads the NLL in short-handed defense, killing over 64% of its penalties.
The following Knighthawks are nearing career milestones:
- Craig Point is one point away from 150 as a Knighthawk
- Dan Dawson is two points shy of 900
- Mike Accursi is five points away from 800
- Cody Jamieson is five assists shy of 100
- Broadcaster Craig Rybczynski will call his 200th consecutive Knighthawks game
On Saturday, February 16th, the Knighthawks will kick off their Annual Teddy Bear Auction to benefit CURE Childhood Cancer Association. This season, the auction includes a Captain America bear signed by three-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart and a special bear created by WBEE host Jeremy Newman. Knighthawks players designed their animals at the Build-A-Bear Workshop© in Eastview Mall. The Teddy Bear Auction will begin at 6:15 p.m. prior to the Knighthawks' game against the Buffalo Bandits on February 16th. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Fans at the game will be able to place their bids at the Go Buy Rochester booth or online at http://www.gobuyrochester.com . Winning bidders must arrange for payment before exiting the arena with their bears.