Editor’s note: Please welcome Michael Cooper to LaxAllStars! Michael is our new Rochester Knighthawks beat writer.
After the long off-season, the Rochester Knighthawks return to NLL action tonight against the Philadelphia Wings. For those who don’t recall: the Knighthawks came on strong at the end of last season just to fall short to Saskatchewan in the NLL Finals.
The Rochester lacrosse community is buzzing with news of the expansion team for next season, which means we’ll be saying goodbye to pretty much the whole organization. But the fans still love the game, still love the team and can’t wait to be inside the Blue Cross Arena ready for action!
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The Knighthawks retained many exciting players from last year’s squad, but a key player missing is ace-in-the-pipes Matt Vinc. Vinc, who went to the Buffalo Bandits in the off-season, leaves a hole to fill in between the pipes by last year’s back up Angus Goodleaf. Goodleaf performed so well in his previous appearances behind Vinc that often times fans could be heard hollering for the permanent switch.
Warren Hill, who was released from New England, was picked up very quickly to add depth to the goalie position behind Goodleaf. Hill has seen time with the Georgia Swarm before being in camp with New England and then signing with Rochester.
Rochester’s captain, Sid Smith starts the season where he left off — on the IR. At the end of last season, a lower body injury sidelined Smith. Unfortunately he wasn’t even able to dress for the Six Nations Chiefs in Sr. A summer action. Smith is a big, strong player with a ton of veteran leadership qualities that might leave a void until he is back. Look for Paul Dawson, Scott Campbell or Ian Llord to help.
Rochester fans are sure to enjoy watching the chemistry between Cody Jamieson, Joe Resetarits and Kyle Jackson heat up each game. While the Hawks lost Dan Dawson during the off-season, they’ve added Pat Saunders to the mix. Austin Shanks had a good rookie season in 2018, and he’s looking to contribute in a major way as well.
Meanwhile, Jake Withers is an absolute beauty and a beast at face-offs. If he continues to win like he has and the offense starts to click, this could be the most dangerous Knighthawks squad ever.
When the Philadelphia Wings hit the turf, Blaze Riorden will be getting the chance to play in front of his hometown crowd. Look for Blaze to play fast and feed off the crowd as he gets to compete in the barn he grew up in!
As if opening night in Rochester wasn’t already exciting enough check, Blue Cross Arena has undergone several changes and technology advanced to add to the fan experience. That means better food with shorter lines, flat screen televisions throughout the venue and a brand new state of the art score board above the turf. There’s more in the works, too. It’s an exciting time to be a sports fan in the Rochester area!
Saturday night is also “Kid’s Night,” so there will so there will be a ton of stuff for kids to do onsite. It’s not too late to snag your ticket to game!