By: Chamberlain Bauder
HAMILTON, ON --- The Rochester Knighthawks fell in a close one 9-8 to the Toronto Rock at First Ontario Centre in Hamilton Ontario. The Knighthawks came out with a new level of physicality against the Rock, keeping the offense that averages 14 goals per game to just nine. Rylan Hartley set a franchise record in saves on the night with 56, setting a standard of standing on his head following the 11 overtime save performance last week. Connor Fields led Rochester on the other end of the floor, notching two goals and five assists to set a new franchise record for single season points with 66 through 10 games.
The Knighthawks picked up right where they left off the week before, Brad Gillies scored the opening goal for the Knighthawks coming off a hat trick last week where he scored the game winner in the last minute of overtime. Toronto got onto the board three minutes later and Thomas Hoggarth responded quickly to give the lead back to the Knighthawks. Tom Schreiber scored his only goal of the day on the power play just two minutes after that and both teams finished the first quarter with two goals and more bruises to go along with it.
Rochester came right out in the second quarter with a new aggression to them that they didn't have in the first quarter. Turner Evans scored only 46 seconds in and Rochester looked amped. Five minutes later Holden Cattoni doubled the lead as he found a quick stick goal off the feed from Fields just as Challen Rogers was coming back into play from the penalty box.
Before anyone knew what was going on, Tyler Biles and Billy Hostrawser were trading punches following the next face-off. It was a long fight, the players moved themselves all the way from the restraining line, into the Rochester crease and the refs had to move the goal. Just over two minutes later it was Ethan Schott and Brandon Slade into another fight, this time in front of the Toronto Crease, after a decent number of punches, Schott swept out Slade's legs and earned the takedown.
Before the end of the half, Toronto got one back with just over a minute to go, Corey Small finding the back of the net for the Rock's third of the day. As the second half kicked off, Toronto was first on the board with a game tying goal from Sheldon Burns who hit an empty netter after a major miscommunication from Rochester. Holden Cattoni answered with a goal two minutes later, back-pedaling into the lefty wing and finding the bottom right corner.
Toronto's Brad Kri went to the box a few minutes later following a crosscheck and Rochester capitalized on the power play, Ryan Smith notched his only goal of the night. Two minutes later it was the other part of the dynamic duo as Fields hit a shot from the advertisements to put Rochester up 7-4. With 1:24 left though Dawson was called for a body check and the Knighthawks were on the penalty kill yet again. Toronto took 33 seconds to capitalize in the back of the net, Small put it away from Stephen Keogh and Schreiber.
In the fourth things completely turned. Despite a strong defensive unit, Toronto was finding a way to score before they even got onto the floor. Zach Manns found the back of the net just 24 seconds into the quarter and from there it became the Rock Show. Phil Mazzuca scored his first career NLL goal on a break away just three minutes later to tie it. Dan Craig gave the Rock the lead just moments after.
With 8:49 left in the game Small cross checked Paul Dawson in the back while he didn't have the ball and he was sent to the box. Connor Fields tied things up at eight with the power play goal with 8:04 remaining. The last goal of the game came for the Rock as Nick Rose found the perfect outlet pass to Slade who put away the fast break goal for the win.
The Knighthawks fall to 8-3 on the season and have now officially split with all of the "Big Three" teams in the east, splitting wins with Halifax, Buffalo, and now Toronto. Rochester's next game will be on the road once again as they travel back to Gas South Arena to take on the Georgia Swarm.