NLL: Knighthawks win big over Swarm

Despite a solid 17-10 win over the Georgia Swarm on Sunday evening, the Rochester Knighthawks remain in last place in the NLL’s east division. At 3-6, they’re half a game back of the Swarm and two games back of New England for the final playoff spot.

Both the Swarm and Knighthawks were playing back-to-back. Georgia lost 18-9 in Buffalo on Saturday, and the Knighthawks dropped a 12-9 decision to the Toronto Rock at home. The NLL was supposed to eliminate these back-to-back games with a longer season, yet teams are still being asked to deal with difficult travel schedules. Just last week the Saskatchewan Rush flew home after playing in Colorado the night before. In addition to the Swarm and Knighthawks, the Bandits also played two games this weekend.

So both teams were tired, but were able to treat the recorded (not necessarily accurate as seen on NLL TV) 3181 fans in attendance at Infinite Energy Center to some highlight reel goals and great saves.

Birthday boy Eric Fannell broke the scoring drought at 10:03 of the first quarter, diving through the crease on Mike Poulin’s glove side. Poulin rebounded with a number of big saves including a kick-save on a behind-the-back shot from Kyle Jackson, a left-shoulder save on a Josh Currier shot and a stick-save on a Paul Dawson fast-break. Currier finally found air and scored another diving goal, stick-side this time, with 1:50 to play in the first.

Not to be outdone in goal, Matt Vinc also made some great saves including point-blank on a Shayne Jackson attempt in the first and two from Randy Staats early in the second. Staats converted on a rebound, however, to get the Swarm on the board.

Bryan Cole finished off a three-way passing play with Jesse King and Zed Williams at 3:55 which started a three-goal run for the Swarm which saw them briefly take a 4-3 lead. The Knighthawks then went on a four-goal tear. Cody Jamieson started things off when he got in alone on Poulin. Jackson and Jamieson both scored their second goals from the shooter’s position. Fannell’s second goal beat Poulin over his right shoulder with 49 left in the half.

Jamieson completed his hat-trick early in the third as the Knighthawks continued to press. Joe Resetarits dumped the ball in one-handed from behind the net while on the run and Quinn Powless’ first goal of the season made the lead 10-4 just 15 seconds later. That goal ended Poulin’s night: he made 26 saves on 36 shots.

Of note, Quinn’s cousin Johnny Powless missed the game for the Swarm. Powless has three goals and 11 assists over seven games. Dan Dawson missed the game for the Knighthawks with personal commitments. Defender Dylan Evans was also scratched.

Lyle Thompson and Kiel Matisz pulled the Swarm within four goals – not a big hurdle in lacrosse – but a late-third quarter high-sticking major to Shayne Jackson allowed the Knighthawks to double up the Swarm 12-6 in the fourth.

Zed Williams and each Thompson brother scored a goal in the frame, but the Knighthawks kept up their torrid pace. Cory Vitarelli scored twice; Jackson added a fourth and Powless a second; and Austin Shanks added a goal. Jackson’s was a hidden ball trick, though the flip pass from Shanks wasn’t really hidden, despite the awe with which it was treated on social media. Only Jason Noble realized Jackson had the ball and Noble was unable to chase him down as he put the ball into the wide open cage behind Warren Hill, caught looking in the opposite direction. All the credit to Shanks who sold the play, looking like he was going to shoot.

Cody Jamieson led the Knighthawks with four goals and two assists. Kyle Jackson had four goals and one assist. Resetarits and Shanks each had one goal but were passing the ball well; Resetarits racked up seven assists and Shanks six. Vitarelli also had a strong game with two goals and three helpers. Jake Withers was 18 for 28 in the face-off circle and Vinc made 38 saves.

Hiana Thompson led the Swarm with two goals and three assists. Lyle had two goals and two assists and Miles one goal. Hill made 17 saves on 24 shots.

Rochester hosts Saskatchewan next Saturday at Blue Cross Arena and Georgia hosts the Rock back at Infinite Energy Arena.