Rochester Knighthawks Game Preview: Friday, January 21 vs. Georgia
The Rochester Knighthawks (2-1) open a two-game weekend tonight following a month-long layoff as they host the host the Georgia Swarm (1-3) for the only time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. All the action will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull. The Eastern Conference matchup will also be the NLL's featured game of the week on ESPNU with full coverage of the contest beginning at 6:30 p.m.
SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT
Tonight's contest is the first of two scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and only the second all-time. Georgia's only other visit to Rochester came back on Nov. 30, 2019, when the Knighthawks hosted the Swarm in the first-ever game in franchise history to kick-off their inaugural 2019-20 campaign. Following tonight's matchup, the teams are idle until Rochester makes its lone visit south to The Peach State for a rematch against the Swarm on Saturday, March 4.
LAST TIME OUT
Over a month has passed since the Knighthawks were last in action following a two-week bye period and the subsequent postponement of last week's home game against Calgary due to COVID-19 protocols affecting both organizations. Rochester improved to 2-1 on the season after a dominating offensive performance in a 16-7 thrashing of the Albany FireWolves back on Dec. 18 at the Times Union Center. For the third straight week, Holden Cattoni (4+5) paved the way for the Knighthawks offense with a team-high nine-point effort with four goals and five assists, while rookie forward Ryan Smith (3+2) had his first multi-goal effort in the NLL while adding two assists. Rookie forward Charlie Bertrand (3+2) continued his torrid start to the 2021-22 campaign with three goals and an assist, while forwards Shawn Evans (1+4), Curtis Knight (1+4), Thomas Hoggarth (1+3) and Turner Evans (1+4), defenseman Doug Utting (1+0) and transition man Ryland Rees (1+0) all produced a goal apiece. Knighthawks goaltender Rylan Hartley (1-0) got his first start of the 2021-22 campaign, making 27 saves on 31 shots. It marked Hartley's first win of the season and first since Feb. 29, 2020 against the New York Riptide. With the win, the largest in franchise history, the Knighthawks have now matched their total number of wins from their inaugural campaign through just three games into the current season.
CATTONI CATCHING FIRE EARLY ON
Cattoni has wasted little time in picking up right where he left off from the 2019-20 season. His explosive start to the season has him 15th in the NLL in scoring with 20 points while continuing to pace the Knighthawks in goals (10) and points (20) through his first three games of the season. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year is tied for seventh in the league in goals and ranks among the league leaders with 10 assists. Cattoni, who's scored a hat trick in all three games thus far this season, is also tied for 13th in the league with a team-best 37 shots. Dating back to the 2019-20 season, he and Shawn Evans remain the only two Knighthawks to record at least one point in all 15 games in franchise history. His nine-point effort against Albany on Dec. 18 was the most in a single game since he put up 10 points (3+7) against Buffalo on Jan. 31, 2019.
ROOKIE KNIGHTHAWKS BEGINNING TO TAKE FLIGHT
The Knighthawks come into the weekend owning two of the NLL's top 10 scoring rookies in forward Charlie Bertrand and Ryan Smith. Bertrand, who's new to the indoor game following one season in the PLL with Redwoods, has taken his first NLL season by storm. Averaging three points per game, Bertrand is third among all first-year players with six goals and ranks sixth in rookie scoring with 10 points. He's scored at least one goal in all three games this season and is coming off a four-point night, including his first career hat trick, in the 16-7 win over Albany. Smith remains at a close second with nine points on three goals and six assists, which are tied for fifth-most among all NLL rookies coming into tonight. Smith also has the sixth-most shots among all newbies with 19. Like Bertrand, Smith scored a hat trick in the win over Albany. His nine points rank fourth amongst all NLL rookies entering the weekend.
EVANS CONTINUES TO CLIMB
After becoming just the sixth player in NLL history to record 1,200 career points during the 2019-20 season, Shawn Evans continues to climb up the league's all-time scoring lists. With three goals already on the season, Evans needs just three more to move ahead of Josh Sanderson for ninth all-time with 450. The 16-year pro and two-time NLL MVP also trails Colin Doyle by 60 assists for fourth all-time and needs only three more assists to become just the fifth player in league history to reach 800 career assists. He also needs just 10 more penalty minutes to pass Geoff Snider for third on the all-time list with 583. Following a four-assist effort in the win over Albany, he leads the team with 11 assists, all but one of which have come at full strength. Evans is also tied for second on the team in overall scoring with 14 points in three games.
SCOUTING THE SWARM
After going 7-5 during the truncated 2019-20 season, the Swarm have dropped three of their first four contests to begin the 2021-22 campaign, including a 12-10 loss to the Buffalo Bandits in their most recent matchup last Friday. Georgia was outscored 4-2 in the opening quarter before going goal-for-goal with the Bandits for the final 45 minutes. Leading point-getter Lyle Thompson and Brendan Bomberry each had a four-point night veteran goaltender Mike Poulin made 41 saves in the loss. The Swarm make their lone visit of the season to Rochester fueled by Thompson, who paces Georgia's offense in all offensive categories in goals (13), assists (13) and points (26) through four games this season. Thompson, a former NLL MVP and two-time NLL All-Pro selection, is second in the league in goals behind only Dane Dobbie of the San Diego Seals while his 26 points are only two off the league lead, also trailing Dobbie. Currently averaging 6.5 points per game, Thompson ranks third in the NLL with a team-high 50 shots on goal. Veteran goaltender Mike Poulin has again been a mainstay for the Swarm having played just about every minute. The former NLL Goaltender of the Year comes into the weekend tied for third among all NLL goaltenders with 149 saves and ranks fifth with a 12.54 goals-against average and a .756 save percentage, respectively.
- Holden Cattoni reached the century mark in his NLL career with his third goal of the game against Buffalo on Dec. 11.
- Shawn Evans needs three more goals for 450 in his career.
- Shawn Evans is three assists away from 800 in his pro career and needs just four more points to reach 1,250 career points.
- Turner Evans surpassed 100 career assists as part of a four-assist outing against Albany on Dec. 18.
- Paul Dawson is 14 points away from 100 in his pro career.
UP NEXT FOR THE KNIGHTHAWKS
After a quick turnaround, the Knighthawks are back in action for the second straight night on Saturday, Jan. 22 when they visit the Philadelphia Wings for an Eastern Conference showdown at Wells Fargo Center. The 7 p.m. matchup will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on 107.3 FM The Bull and ESPN+.
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