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 Rochester Knighthawks

'Hawks Can Clinch Playoff Berth with Win Today over Philly

April 21, 2024 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Rochester Knighthawks News Release

It's win or go home for the Rochester Knighthawks (7-10) whose playoff hopes hang in the balance as they host the Philadelphia Wings (6-11) in the must-win regular season finale at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 3:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.


Rochester's season is quite literally coming down to the final day with the Knighthawks needing a win this afternoon over Philadelphia to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight year. The Knighthawks, who are playing their second game in less than 72 hours, lived to see another day following their win Friday night in Georgia while also getting help from San Diego, Albany and Toronto, all of whom defeated teams in the playoff race alongside Rochester. Coming off four straight losses entering the final weekend of the season, the Knighthawks had a slim 3.13% chance of qualifying for the postseason and now have an opportunity to ultimately control their own destiny.


With the only thing standing between Rochester and the postseason being a win over Philadelphia, it's all the more motivation for the Knighthawks to capture the franchise's elusive first win over an already eliminated Wings team that not only swept the three-game season series in 2022-23 but have won all six meetings between the two teams dating back to Rochester's inaugural campaign. It's the longest losing streak against any single opponent for the Knighthawks. Today's matchup will again feature three of the league's top point-getters in Mitch Jones and Joe Resetarits of the Wings and Connor Fields of the Knighthawks, with all but Resetarits having surpassed the 100-point mark so far this season. Jones, who came over to Philadelphia in a midseason trade from Vancouver last year, ranks fourth in the NLL in overall scoring with 109 points in (34+75) in 17 games while Resetarits, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization, ranks 14th with 95 points (37+58). Resetarits, who earlier this season surpassed Casey Powell, also formerly of the original Knighthawks franchise, for the most points scored by an American-born player in the NLL history, needs just five more points to record his third straight 100-point season, a feat never before accomplished by an American player. Fields, whose been Rochester's leading scorer all season, has a three-point lead on Jones for fourth in league scoring. He and Resetarits are two of only three American-born players in league history to record 100 points in back-to-back seasons and just two of three to do so overall.


After being outscored 5-1 in the third quarter, the Knighthawks flipped the script in the final frame, holding the playoff bound Georgia Swarm to just a single goal in a narrow 11-10 win Friday at Gas South Arena. The victory preserved Rochester's playoff hopes heading into this afternoon's regular season finale and also snapped a four-game skid. Connor Fields (4+4) scored four goals and assisted on four others, with two of his goals occurring courtesy of back-to-bac penalty shot conversions. Ryan Smith (2+2) tallied a pair of goals and two helpers while Matt Gilray (0+2), former Swarm Ryan Lanchbury (0+3), and Dan Coates (0+2) all contributed multi-assists efforts. Goaltender Rylan Hartley (1+1) picked up his first victory of the season in his sixth appearance as he stopped 36 of the 46 shots he faced. It was Rochester's first win this season when trailing after the third quarter.


Tonight's game will serve as a homecoming for Wings forward and Fairport native Blaze Riorden, who has made a name for himself in both field and box lacrosse. Considered one of the top goaltenders in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), Riorden led Team Chaos to back-to-back appearances in the PLL Championship Series, winning the title in 2021 after finishing second in 2020. In 2020, he posted a league-high 119 saves on his way to earning the Oren Lyons Goalie of the Tournament Award. During the regular season, he led all netminders with a .558 save percentage and 153 saves, earning him Goalie of the Year honors. Prior to turning pro, Riorden played his college lacrosse at the University at Albany, where he was named an All-American and was the America East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He graduated as the program's Division I all-time leader in saves with 849. Riorden is the second Fairport native to play in the National Lacrosse League following Tim Soudan, who played 11 seasons with the previous Knighthawks franchise and was a member of the 1997 MILL Championship team.


The Knighthawks enter the final game of the season ranked fifth in the NLL with 11.88 goals per game. Additionally, the Knighthawks are second in the NLL in total shots-for (1,382) and continue to pace the league in average shots per game (81.29). The only team averaging more than 80 shots per game, Rochester has outshot the opposition in 13 of its first 17 games this season, including all but two on the road. The Knighthawks have also topped the 60-shot mark on five different occasions, highlighted by a franchise-best 73 shots in the win at Panther City earlier this month. Rochester is 5-8 this season when outshooting the opponent.


Canandaigua native Joe Post has been nearly unbeatable at the center dot this season, winning 263-of 451 face-off attempts for a 58.3% success rate that ranks fourth-best in the league. His 249 wins, which as of Friday are a new single-season franchise record, also rank fourth in the NLL while his 148 loose ball recoveries are 10th-most. Post's 26 face-off wins against Panther City back on March 3 set the new single-game mark, besting the 24 he had earlier this season in Saskatchewan. Dating back to his rookie season, Post, who played his collegiate lacrosse at nearby St. John Fisher University, has won 326-of-582 career face-off attempts, good for a 56.0% efficiency rate.


A year after becoming just the third American-born player in league history to record 100 points in a season, Knighthawks forward Connor Fields has duplicated the effort again this season while continuing to show no signs of slowing down. Coming off an eight-point performance in Friday's 11-10 win at Georgia, which included his fifth four-goal outing of the campaign, Fields matched his previous career-high of 112 points he set last season in the same number of games. More impressively, Fields, who currently sits at 49 goals on the season, needs just one more goal to join the illustrious 50-goal club, which already features New York's Jeff Teat, Buffalo's Josh Byrne and San Diego's Austin Staats. In doing so, the East Amherst, New York native will close the season with back-to-back campaigns with at least 50 goals and 60 assists for the second straight year. He also recently became the only player in league history to record more than 100 points and 140 loose ball recoveries in back-to-back seasons. In addition to leading the Knighthawks in goals (49), assists (63) and points (112), Fields continues to pace all NLL forwards in loose balls (154) and shots (246). He enters the final day of the regular season ranked fourth in goals and points, making him a viable candidate for this year's Most Valuable Player.


The 13-11 home win over Vancouver back on Dec. 23 came with historical significance in the fact that not only did the Knighthawks enjoy a 3-0 start for the second straight year, but it also served as the 100th win for Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen, who became just the sixth coach in league history to reach 100 career wins. Hasen surpassed legendary head coach Les Bartley for sixth all-time following the win over Halifax on Feb. 11 of last season, making him one of three finalists for the 2023 NLL Coach of the Year. He's also just the sixth head coach to have coached more than 200 National Lacrosse League games. Hasen owns the distinction of being the only member of the prestigious group to reach the mark having spent his entire career in the same city. One of the most decorated coaches in league history, Hasen remains the only NLL head coach to win three straight NLL championships.

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