By: Chamberlain Bauder
ROCHESTER, N.Y. ---The Rochester Knighthawks hosted the New York Riptide for their final preseason game before the regular season opens on December 1. The Knighthawks entered the night 2-0 in the preseason, they took down Buffalo and Georgia. They came out with the same number of losses. Rochester was level one time in the second quarter, they led the entire rest of the game. Connor Fields picked up right where he left off from last season notching three goals and two primary assists. Ryan Smith was the number one from the right-handed side he scored three points. Rylan Hartley played the first three quarters before exiting for Riley Hutchcraft. Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen was still hyper focused on the learning areas for the game.
“I’m not full disappointed I think we got 5 for 12 by my count,” Hasen said about the team’s power play conversion. “But the big thing is we had a 4-on-3 and got nothing and then we only got one on the five-minute power play where those are big moments where it kind of shuts the door.”
The Hawks came out to an early start, after starting on a losing face off the defense quickly took care of business and got the offense out the door. Rochester found an opportunity on the power play early on and there was no question about Field ripping from distance. He faked twice and made his defender leap three feet in the air before sniping the bottom left corner. A few minutes later, at even strength he put in the same shot. With one second left on the shot clock, he brought the Hawks lead to 2-0.
McConvey and Smith combined for the next Rochester goal. Smith was draped with a defender entering the offensive zone. With one hand he was able to beat an eventual double team and find the pass to McConvey on the crease for an easy goal.
“He’s taking that next step to be a leader and be that number one on that side,” Hasen said about Smith’s play through preseason.
New York found a way right back into it. Not long after the third Knighthawks goal, Jeff Teat scored his first of the day. Before they knew it Rochester was the team on the man disadvantage, it was twice as hard as New York’s though. Both Turner Evans and Thomas Whitty were sitting in the box. The Riptide bagged their second and brought things back, early in the second they tied it up as they rolled their momentum from the first.
“We just played with pace and Hartley was playing well and making the saves we needed him to make,” Hasen said about the pause in scoring following New York’s third goal. ”I also thought it was very choppy. There were a lot of penalties early and whistles and moving picks. Once the flow got going, we got our legs under us and kept going.”
The Riptide scored the tying goal just over a minute into the second. After that, things slowed down for both offenses as each goalie and defense settled into their game. After about eight minutes of adjustment, it was the Knighthawks strong left offense (Three lefties and two righties) that found their way. Fields added the first assist to his day, while double covered he found Dan Lomas on the crease. Seconds later it was another lefty, Turner Evans, he scooped up a loose ball and doubled the Knighthawks lead.
Rochester continued after that, with just about two minutes to go, trade acquisition Kyle Waters scored his first in Blue Cross Arena. He was the first man out the door and received a pass from Ryland Rees at midfield. After the goal Rochester went to the power play and continued their domination. Smith ran the extra man and found second year Austin Hasen wide open on the crease, he hit the ball more than catching it and scored the Knighthawks seventh goal of the game. In a five-minute swing Rochester went 4-0 and carried a 7-3 lead into the halftime break.
“A lot of us played against each other growing up and a lot of us know each other’s tendencies,” Waters said about the excitement of playing on a young team. “It was super easy to come in and assert myself in that offense. We play with pace and we play with grit so it’s gonna be a fun year.”
Despite Rochester’s domination before the break, it was New York who came out on fire in the second half. They dominated possession in the early goings and scored their fourth goal three minutes in. A minute after that it was another Rochester penalty and an easy score for the Riptide’s power play. Ryan Smith stopped the bleeding on a power play of his own. After dishing the ball all night, the righty found an open corner and scored from the top of the key. The next goal was one of the most bizarre of the contest. Rochester had a 5-on-3 power play and lost possession. No attackers tracked back for the open Riptide player. He scored easily past Hutchcraft who went into the game late in the third.
The Riptide looked poised for the comeback as they hit the third quarter break down by one. Rochester’s defense had other plans for the fourth. They allowed two from the Riptide and had the lefty side of New York out of the game.
“I thought our righties did a pretty good job tonight,” Alternate captain Dan Coates said about his team’s defense against Jeff Teat. “Gilray, Reese, and Gillies saw a lot of him tonight but Jeff’s gonna get his and you just got to kind of let him roll. He’s all world.”
Teat was able to “get his” but his only times touching the goal column was in the first quarter. By the end he was only able to feed his big righties and that meant New York couldn’t come back.
The Knighthawks scored almost immediately in the fourth and before long Fields found himself alone in front of the Riptide net to make it 10-7. That was nowhere near the end for Rochester, after a quick Riptide goal the gap opened back up to a five-goal lead. Cory Highfield hit first, then it was a bouncer PPG from Lomas. The third was the most impressive as rookie defenseman Taylor Jensen dove over the crease to flick a ball into the open net. New York scored another with less than five to go but Hutchcraft was standing tall, and the deficit was looming large. Rochester eventually took the 13-9 win and finished an undefeated preseason.
They will host the Calgary Roughnecks on December 2 for their season opener at Blue Cross Arena.