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KNIGHTHAWKS LOOKING TO MOVE UP IN THE EAST
02/07/2013 - 10:24pm

By Travis Larner -- The Rochester Knighthawks will look to even their record at .500 entering their first weekend of back-to-back games in 2013. On Friday, February 8th, the Knighthawks (1-3) will travel to Philadelphia to battle the Wings (2-2) in an unusual 11:00 a.m. contest. The following night, Rochester will face the Buffalo Bandits (3-2) at the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m.

"Hopefully this is a good way for us to get back to .500," Matt Vinc said. "I think that's the way we're looking at it. We're looking at getting another win on Friday night against a pretty good Philadelphia team."

Following a dismal start to the season, the Knighthawks, led by their defense, earned their first win. The 7-6 victory over Washington on February 2nd tied a National Lacrosse League record for fewest goals scored in a win.

Vinc earned the NLL’s Week #5 Defensive Player of the Week Award after making 42 saves on 48 shots for a .875 save percentage. He also won the award in Week #1 after a loss in Washington, making 51 saves on 64 shots.

“It’s an indication of how much better we played as a defensive unit,” Vinc said. “Guys were getting in shooting lanes and really limiting their good scoring chances. We watched film last night, and it really showed how well we played defensively.

“I’m just the one who’s going to benefit from the good defense in front of me. I’m just fortunate enough that our defense is good right now and hopefully we do that moving forward.”

“(Vinc) bailed us out when we did make mistakes and had a great game,” added defenseman Tyler Burton.

Last season, the Knighthawks defeated the Wings all four times they met. In the last week of the regular season, Rochester won 9-7, which seeded them second in the East Division and ironically, allowed them to host Philadelphia again the following week in the first round of the playoffs.

In three regular season meetings, Rochester’s defense held Philadelphia to nine goals per game, the fewest of their three East Division foes. Toronto averaged 14 and Buffalo 12.

Last weekend, the Knighthawks allowed the Stealth to move the ball up the floor quickly in transition. Defenseman Mike Grimes was the benefactor of two of those situations, scoring twice. Rochester Head Coach Mike Hasen commented on Philadelphia stating, “Their roster is always quick and they move the ball in transition well.”

Three of the Wings’ transition players were a part of the blockbuster trade that sent the Dawson brothers to Rochester. Jordan Hall, Paul Rabil and Joel White were sent to Philadelphia as part of the deal which involved six players and two draft picks. Hall (4+16) and Rabil (3+8) are the Wings’ third and fifth-highest scorers respectively.

On the other hand, Dan Dawson and the Rochester’s offense have struggled, scoring only seven goals in each of the last two games.

“It’s something we’ve got to address,” said Dawson after the win over Washington. “Without overanalyzing, it comes down to execution – just burying your chances. I know I had five good chances in alone on net that I didn’t bury.”

Hasen knows his team will not will many games with only seven goals. Although Rochester is last in the league with 9.75 goals per game, he does not plan on overhauling the offense just yet.

“We had a ton of chances and we had a ton of open looks (against the Stealth),” Hasen said. “Tyler Richards played extremely well and he was a big difference in that game. If those chances weren’t there, then we’d be worried. We’re doing some good things right now; we’re just a little bitten trying to put the ball in the mesh…We know it’s going to come.”

Following the game in Philadelphia, the Knighthawks will fly to Buffalo to face the Bandits on Saturday. The game will be a rematch of Rochester’s Week # 3 loss at home, which it lost 14-13 on a behind-the-back shot with 11.8 seconds remaining.

Both games will be broadcast live on Sportsradio 950 ESPN and online at www.sportsradio950espn.com. The games will be also carried live on the NLL on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.


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