NLL: Stunning 9-8 OT win for Knighthawks

The Rochester Knighthawks stunned the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday afternoon with a 9-8 overtime win at Blue Cross Arena in the back half of their home-and-home series.

Dan Dawson notched the winner 1:02 into the bonus frame following a back and forth game that saw the game tied six times. Every team in the NLL’s eastern division (with the exception of Georgia) is closely matched, making for exciting games every weekend and a guarantee that playoff spots will come down to the final few games.

Buffalo won 13-9 at Keybank Center on Friday night.

Rochester took a 2-0 lead after the first quarter on goals from Cory Vitarelli and Dan Lomas. Matt Vinc was hot early, making 13 saves in the first quarter. Despite being pushed over after Dhane Smith pushed Andrew Suitor into him, the goaltender was in the zone.

Vinc continued his steady play in the second, making a shoulder save off Matthew Bennett early. However, you can’t stop Dhane Smith every time and he finally beat Vno on the power play at 5:51. Buffalo quickly tied the game on a goal from Pat Saunders. Joe Resetarits and Mark Steenhuis traded goals for a 3-3 tie. Craig England dodged around Steenhuis who was running interference with the K-Hawk defenders to put the Bandits up 4-3 on the power play. Kyle Jackson tied the game at four but Saunders scored again to put the Bandits back up.

Paul Dawson was called for a cross-check on Dhane Smith, who was also sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct – when was the last time a diving penalty was called in the NLL? That’s what it appeared to be. Brad Gillies took advantage of the four-on-four play and scored on a fast-break to even the game at five.

Resetarits the put Rochester up 6-5, twisting left, then right, then left again and narrowly avoiding the crease as he shot.

Mitch Jones tied the game at six at 10:35 of the fourth quarter. Cory Vitarelli then took a holding the stick penalty upon which Smith capitalized 17 seconds in. Vitarelli redeemed himself tying the game at seven but Smith scored again right off the ensuing face-off. Unfortunately for the Bandits, Mitch DeSnoo took his own holding the stick penalty at 13:31, putting the K-Hawks on a late power play. They had a last minute possession and got two good shots off but DiRuscio controlled the rebound.

With about 14 seconds to go, Smith started with the ball in the Bandits end, but Scott Campbell hassled the ball away from him at half. Graeme Hossack scooped the loose ball and fired it to Josh Currier who snuck in the zone past two defenders and beat DiRuscio one on one.

It was one of those games where penalties were everything – even though Rochester had one more power play opportunity (which ended up being the difference), the five penalties they took themselves knocked the wind out of their sails and allowed the Bandits to push the pace. Buffalo had two power play goals and one with the extra attacker. Rochester ended up making the PP work for them with three goals of their own.

Both teams are off next week. Rochester visits New England at 7:30 p.m. on March 17 while Buffalo visits Vancouver at 10:30 p.m.