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KNIGHTHAWKS AND BANDITS BEGIN SERIES SATURDAY
05/09/2014 - 2:52pm

(May 9, 2014)… The Rochester Knighthawks and Buffalo Bandits will renew their playoff rivalry on Saturday, May 10th at 7:30 p.m. at the First Niagara Center in Game One of the East Division Finals. The contest is available on Sportsradio 950 ESPN and online at www.sportsradio950espn.com.

The Western New York rivals have met 53 times during the regular season, and eight times in the postseason. In 2014, the Knighthawks won three of their four meetings against Buffalo. With another showdown between the familiar rivals, coaches from both teams admit there are no secrets when the two teams meet.

"We are anxious to get into what is going to be a very tough series against Buffalo,” said Knighthawks Head Coach Mike Hasen. “There are not too many surprises. We have to have our compete level ready right from the get go.”

“It’s a rivalry that has been going on for a while in the league and it goes back to when Rochester came into the league,” said Bandits Assistant Coach Dan Teat. “Part of it is the proximity between the two teams. The (other part is the) fact we played each other four times and tendencies are tendencies. Both teams know each other so well.”

Buffalo advanced to the East Division Finals after defeating the Toronto Rock last Saturday 15-13. While the Bandits were playing in the single-elimination first round, the Knighthawks were practicing during their bye weekend. Rochester (14-4) earned the bye after earning the No. 1 seed in the East Division.

The last time the Knighthawks were in action was on April 26th, when they beat the Bandits 16-14 at the First Niagara Center in front of a league-record tying regular season crowd of 19,070 fans. Rochester took advantage of the extra week to scout the Bandits and prepare for the two-game series.

"I think we prepared well on the weekend to get ready for this first game with Buffalo," Knighthawks defenseman Mike Kirk said. "Anytime you're playing Buffalo in Buffalo, it's going to be a big game and we've got a lot on the line this weekend. I think we prepared well and I think we're ready to go on Saturday night."

The East Division Finals will mark the first postseason matchup between the familiar foes since the 2007 National Lacrosse League Playoffs. In the last matchup, Rochester rallied to defeat Buffalo 14-13 in overtime on April 27, 2007 at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester advanced to the Championship Game on John Grant’s game-winner just 26 seconds into the extra frame. The Knighthawks then knocked off the Arizona Sting 13-11 to win the franchise’s second NLL Championship.

Like the 2007 team, the Knighthawks are backstopped by an all-star goalie and a solid defensive unit. In 2014, Rochester allowed just 167 goals in 18 games to finish second in the NLL and first in the East Division in goals-against. In 12 of the team’s games, goalie Matt Vinc and the Rochester defense limited their opponents to nine or fewer goals.

“We play a simple system that is team based. All five guys need to be on the same page to be successful,” said Kirk. “We pride ourselves on doing those little things right.”

Offensively, Rochester ended the season with two players in the Top 5 in points in the NLL. Cody Jamieson led the NLL with a career-high 108 points en route to becoming the second Knighthawk to win the NLL Scoring Title. Jamieson and Dan Dawson finished tied for second in the league with a franchise-record 72 assists. Dawson also was tied for fourth in the NLL with 91 points. Stephen Keogh also had an outstanding season, winning the team’s Offensive MVP honors after earning career highs in goals (33), assists (38) and points (71). Joe Walters and Joel McCready set new marks for goals, assists and points, as well. Walters scored 15 goals and added 26 assists for 41 points, while McCready tallied 14 goals and chipped in 15 assists for 29 points. Johnny Powless also had an impressive season, scoring a personal best 30 goals toward a career-high 53 points. The Knighthawks rely on their talented roster of offensive players, which is based on team success and winning, instead of individual goals.

"We are successful when we move our feet and move the ball. In our offense, anyone can go off for a big night,” said Walters. “We are at our best when we are sharing the ball.”

After Saturday’s game, the series will shift to Rochester for Game Two of the East Division Finals on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 p.m. Knighthawks Playoff Tickets are currently on sale at ticketmaster.com and range in price from $17 to $22 prior to the day of the game. Game day tickets are $25 and $30. For more information on playoff pricing, please call (585) 454-4295.


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