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 Rochester Knighthawks

Rochester Knighthawks Game Preview: Saturday, December 10 vs. Toronto

December 10, 2022 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Rochester Knighthawks News Release


TONIGHT'S GAME OVERVIEW

The Rochester Knighthawks (1-0) look for their second straight win of the young season tonight as they return home to take on the six-time NLL champion Toronto Rock (1-0) in their 2022-23 Home Opener at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:00 p.m. matchup will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.

SEASON SERIES SNAPSHOT

Rochester is looking for its win in franchise history over the Rock after coming up winless in all four previous matchups against Toronto dating back to the Knighthawks' inaugural 2019-20 campaign. Both teams are coming off season-opening wins with Knighthawks using a second-half surge to defeat the Georgia Swarm 16-11 while Toronto dominated from start to finish in a 19-8 rout of the Vancouver Warriors last week on home turf. Rochester forward Ryan Smith, who last season was named to the NLL All-Rookie Team, led all Knighthawks in scoring with nine points (5+4) in two games opposite the Rock, marking his second-highest offensive output against any single opponent during the 2021-22 campaign. Following tonight's matchup, the teams are idle until Rochester heads north of the border for its lone trip to FirstOntario Center later this season on March 4.

HASEN BACK AT THE HELM

Leading the Knighthawks into their third season of the expansion-era is an all-too-familiar face in head coach Mike Hasen. One of the most decorated coaches in league history, Hasen is certainly no stranger to Rochester, having previously served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2019. In nine seasons behind the bench with the original Knighthawks, Hasen guided Rochester to an 81-75 regular season record while leading the team to six playoff appearances. The Knighthawks also finished among the top two teams in the East Division six different times under Hasen, including each of the first five seasons (2011-2015). Hasen's most successful run at the helm of the Knighthawks came from 2012-14 when he made National Lacrosse League history by leading Rochester to an unprecedented three straight Champion's Cups. He remains the only NLL bench boss to accomplish the feat. With 88 career wins, including four last season, Hasen remains on pace to become just the sixth coach in NLL history to reach 100 career wins. Joining Hasen, who is also a four-time Mann Cup winner as head coach of the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, and assistant coach Pat O'Toole for this season is Gavin Prout, who replaces Mat Giles as the team's offensive coach. Arguably one of the biggest names in the sport of lacrosse, Prout has won at all levels of competition as both a player and a coach. His distinguished resume includes league championships in the National Lacrosse League (2006) and Major League Lacrosse (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009) as well as a Mann Cup in 2000 and pair of Minto Cups in 1997 and 1999. Internationally, he's also a five-time medal winner with Team Canada, including three gold medals. Most recently, the Whitby, Ontario, native won his first medal as a coach after leading Canada to a gold medal finish at the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championship, held at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg this past August. Canada went undefeated during the event, outscoring the opposition 47-17 before defeating Haudenosaunee 16-9 in the championship game.

LAST TIME OUT

A strong second-half showing combined with a near-record-setting performance from newcomer Connor Fields propelled the Knighthawks to a convincing 16-11 season-opening win over Georgia last week at Gas South Arena. The win marked Rochester's first in franchise history over the Swarm and the second straight year in which the Knighthawks opened the season with a win dating back to their 13-12 overtime victory over the New York Riptide to begin the 2021-22 campaign. Fields, one of several offseason acquisitions made by Rochester, made an immediate impact in his Knighthawks debut, scoring four goals and adding six assists for 10 points on his way to tying the single-game franchise record. He also tied for the team lead with 12 shots on goal, matching that of Holden Cattoni, who originally set the single-game points mark during the team's inaugural campaign in 2019-20, and scooped up nine loose-ball recoveries in the win, which saw Rochester erase a 9-6 first-half deficit before outscoring the Swarm 10-2 in the second. The Knighthawks opened the second half on a seven-goal run, highlighted by a natural hat trick from Fields, while also keeping Georgia off the board a 4-0 third quarter. Curtis Knight (3+3) and Holden Cattoni (3+2) each recorded hat tricks while Thomas Hoggarth (2+3) and Ryan Smith (0+5) had five points of their own. Rookie forward Austin Hasen (2+0) posted a two-goal night in his NLL debut, while veteran defender Brad Gillies (1+1) had a two-point effort in his first game with the expansion-era Knighthawks after spending the first four years of his pro career with the previous Knighthawks organization. Rylan Hartley (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, making 46 saves on 57 shots he faced in his first appearance since March 4 of last season, which coincidentally was also against Georgia.

KNIGHTAWKS FORWARDS EARN WEEKLY HONORS

On the heels of their impressive performances last week, Knighthawks forwards Connor Fields and Austin Hasen were named as the NLL's Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, for Week 1. Fields enters the weekend tied for third in the league in assists (6) and points (10). He's also tied for third in the NLL with a team-high four goals, just one off the league lead behind only Curtis Dickson and Blaze Riorden. Hasen, the son of Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen, led all rookies in Week 1 with two goals and five loose ball recoveries. Dating back to his rookie season in 2019-20, Fields, who was originally a first-round pick (10th overall) of the San Diego Seals in 2018, has recorded at least one point in 31 of his 33 career NLL games. Prior to turning pro, Fields played his collegiate lacrosse at the University at Albany, where he was a four-time All-American and named a Tewaaraton Award nominee in each of his final three seasons after amassing an astonishing 364 points (199+165) in 69 career games for the Great Danes, becoming one of the top scorers in Division I. As a senior, Fields ranked sixth in the nation in points per game (5.38) and assists per game (3.25) en route to earning America East Offensive Player of the Year and America East All-Conference First Team honors for the second straight year. Hasen, meanwhile, was named the 2022 Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year as a senior at Belmont Abbey College after leading the Crusaders with 58 points on 41 goals and 17 assists.

DAWSON FAMILY REUNION

It's a family reunion again tonight in Rochester for the Dawson brothers, but this time as opponents. The siblings have been somewhat of a packaged commodity over their combined 32 years in the NLL, having been teammates numerous times throughout their careers, including six seasons in Rochester with the previous Knighthawks franchise from 2013 to 2018. The duo won back-to-back NLL titles in 2013 and 2014 during the organization's historic run of three straight league championships. Prior to playing alongside one another in Rochester, the Dawson brothers were also teammates in Boston (2009-10) and Philadelphia (2012) and were reunited against most recently during the 2018-19 season in San Diego. Since going their separate ways prior to the 2019-20 season, Dan and the Rock have maintained the upper-hand, going 4-0 against Paul and the Knighthawks in their four reunions since.

HOMECOMING FOR TORONTO'S IERLAN

Tonight's game will serve as a homecoming for Toronto's TD Ierlan, who's currently in his second season with the Rock. Last season, he led all NLL rookies and finished fourth in the league with 234 face-off wins, the most ever by a Toronto rookie. Ierlan played his high school lacrosse at Victor, where he was a two-time US Lacrosse All-American selection and led the Blue Devils to their first two of five straight Section V championships as well as back-to-back New York State titles in 2015 and 2016. He, along with younger brother Chayse, a three-time First Team All-Greater Rochester selection and the 2018 All-Greater Rochester Male Athlete of the Year, remain the only pair of siblings to earn US Lacrosse All-American honors in back-to-back years and are one of just three Victor players in program history to earn the honors multiple times. Ierlan, who went to the Rock 20th overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, remains one of the nation's top face-off specialists in the history of NCAA Division I lacrosse between five years at the University of Denver, Yale and the University of Albany. Ierlan, who was also selected by the Redwoods in the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft, is a three-time All-American, a two-time First-Team All-American and was a Tewaaraton Award finalist.

SCOUTING THE ROCK

The Rock make their only trip to Rochester this season coming off a dominating 19-8 season-opening win over the Vancouver Warriors to begin their 23rd NLL campaign. Toronto erupted for seven goals in the first quarter, including six straight to open the contest, and never looked back on its way outscoring the Warriors 13-4 in the first half. Tom Schreiber, who returns for his sixth season with the Rock, led the way offensively with an eight-point night, which included a team-high five assists and 14 shots on goal. Corey Small, who's in his first season with the Rock after spending the 2021-22 campaign with Philadelphia, and Mitch de Snoo each recorded hat tricks behind a 53-save effort from veteran goaltender Nick Rose. Toronto again returns three of its top four scoring forwards from last season in Tom Schreiber, Dan Craig, and dangerous Dan Dawson, who collectively make up on of the most dynamic offensive units in the NLL. Schreiber tied for the league lead with 47 goals and finished 13th in overall scoring with 86 points in 2021-22. The former NLL Rookie of the Year and two-time Major League Lacrosse MVP also ranked second in the NLL with 11 power-play goals, trailing only Saskatchewan's Robert Church in that category, and had the second-most shots (193) among all NLL players. Dawson, a former Knighthawk in the previous organization and a seven-time NLL All-Pro selection, last season surpassed John Grant, Jr. for second all-time in scoring with 1,481 career points. He's also the NLL's all-time leader in games played (311) and assists (939) and ranks fourth in career goals (543).


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