Knighthawks One Win Away from Sixth Championship
The National Lacrosse League Finals will come down to a winner-take-all showdown on Saturday, June 9 at the SaskTel Centre. With the series tied at one win apiece, the Rochester Knighthawks and Saskatchewan Rush will face off in Saskatoon at 9:30 p.m. ET, with the winner raising the NLL Cup.
Rochester forced a decisive third game by defeating Saskatchewan, 13-8, Saturday to even the best-of-three series. The win extended Rochester's league-record home playoff winning streak to 15 games. The Knighthawks also improved to 4-0 at home in the NLL Finals since the streak began in 2006.
Josh Currier had his finest game as a pro, posting a career-best six points and tying his career high with four goals. Currier credited the crowd of over 9,100 for helping inspire his standout effort.
"I played with a little more emotion than I have in the past," "he said. "I think it was because of the fans. We really fed off them the whole game."
The balanced scoring effort also saw Cody Jamieson put up a pair of goals and two assists, while Graeme Hossack had a two-goal night and added one assist. Brad Gillies, Austin Shanks, Cory Vitarelli, Kyle Jackson and Eric Fannell all pitched in with single goals.
Rochester broke the game open with a five-goal second quarter to take an 8-4 lead at halftime. The defense and Matt Vinc had a stellar performance, holding the Rush to a season-low eight goals. Vinc, who finished with 47 stops, now has a league playoff record of 942 saves in his NLL career.
"He gives us an opportunity to win every night," said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. "But it's not just what you see on the floor. He is a student of the game. He takes care of himself and takes care of our team."
Since February 11, the Knighthawks have gone an incredible 11-3. Three of those wins have been against the Rush, a team that has lost only five games all season. A fourth victory over Saskatchewan would mean a sixth NLL Cup for Rochester, which would tie them with the Toronto Rock and Philadelphia Wings for the most in league history.
Rochester has played several must-win games down the stretch, including needing a win on the final game of the season to guarantee a playoff berth. That adversity has helped mold this team into Cup contenders.
"We're better with our backs against the wall," said Vinc. "That's been our approach since mid-February when we were 2-6."
Broadcast Information: The game will be broadcast on 107.3 The Bull and the iHeartRadio app. The contest will be streamed on Twitter at live.twitter.com/nll and simulcast on NLLTV.com. Fans can also watch the game locally on CW Rochester. The contest will be available on cable channels 16 and 1016, and over-the-air at 13.2. DIRECTV will carry the broadcast on channel 14.
Scouting the Knighthawks: Rochester can win its fourth Cup in seven seasons on Saturday. The Knighthawks won an NLL-record three straight titles from 2012-14. Defenseman Graeme Hossack had a night to remember in Game Two, tying his career high with two goals and collecting a team playoff record 16 loose balls. He also had a career-best three points. Cody Jamieson and Joe Resetarits continue to lead the team in postseason points. "Jammer" has 16 points, while Resetarits has 13. The offensive duo is tied for third in the NLL with 10 assists. Rookie Austin Shanks enters Game Three with a team-leading eight goals. Fellow rookie Jake Withers leads the playoffs with 65 faceoff wins and a 64 percent faceoff winning percentage.
- Cody Jamieson needs two points to pass John Grant Jr. and become the Knighthawks' all-time playoff points leader. Jammer enters the game with 81 career playoff points.
- Cory Vitarelli needs one goal to tie Paul Gait for fourth place on the team's all-time postseason list with 22.
- Rochester is making its league-record 10th appearance in the NLL championship.
Scouting the Rush: Saskatchewan needs one win to capture its third Cup in the past four seasons. In Game Two, the Rush were led by a seven-point effort (3+4) from Jeff Shattler. Mark Matthews (0+4) and Ben McIntosh (1+3) also provided four points each. In goal, Evan Kirk turned aside 40 Rochester shots. During the regular season, Kirk led the league with 12 wins and was second with a 10.82 goals-against average. After setting an NLL-record with 84 assists, Matthews has 11 assists and 14 points in three playoff games.
Official Viewing Parties: The Distillery Sports Bar and Grill will host Game Three viewing parties at all four locations on Saturday. The festivities will begin at 9:00 p.m. as the Knighthawks battle for the NLL Cup.
The Distillery Viewing Party Sites:
1142 Mt. Hope Ave. (Rochester)
300 Paddy Creek Circle (Greece)
3010 South Winton Rd. (Henrietta)
10 Square Dr. (Victor)
Images from this story
Graeme Hossack of the Rochester Knighthawks celebrates a goal
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National Lacrosse League Stories from June 5, 2018
- Knighthawks One Win Away from Sixth Championship - Rochester Knighthawks
- Pre-Game Rally Planned for Saturday - Saskatchewan Rush
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