NLL Week 8: Franchise Firsts for New York Riptide, Rochester Knighthawks

PHOTO BY MICHELINE V/ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS

Holden Cattoni had six points in Rochester's 13-12 win over the Roughnecks.


Welcome to the win column, New York and Rochester.

Both expansion franchises earned their first-ever victories in a wild weekend of National Lacrosse League action, with New York besting Georgia on an overtime goal from Dan MacRae and Rochester holding on to upset the Roughnecks.

The Knighthawks’ triumph was the more expected of the two, even against the defending league champs. Rochester lost its first four games but has been competitive in the last three, most recently falling to Toronto, 13-12. The K-Hawks have seemingly been building to this point.

Curtis Knight and Holden Cattoni led the way with six points each as the K-Hawks scored the final two goals in a comeback 13-12 victory. Knight had the game-winner, which came 8:03 into the final frame.

“The guys are pretty pumped and deservedly so,” Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen said in his postgame interview. “It’s been a bit of a grind, and our game kept getting better and better. It’s nice that we grinded this one out.”

There was fair speculation on whether the Riptide would win at all this season after they dropped their first five games by a combined 32 goals. But a bit of late-game heroics left the fans on Long Island with dreams of what the future could hold.

Gale Thorpe tied the game with 1.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and MacRae turned a 1-on-2 transition into a goal in New York’s 13-12 stunner against the Swarm.

“I’m a defensive player, obviously,” MacRae said postgame on B/R Live. “It’s always been ingrained in your head, cross over half and try to find an [offensive] guy … I saw a chance to put one on net and thankfully, it went in.”

The late goals saved the Riptide from a heartbreaking loss after Lyle Thompson scored twice in the final three minutes to erase an 11-10 New York lead. It was Thorpe’s turn to come to the rescue, as he scored his only goal of the game on a quick-stick shot.

The Swarm, the favorite in the East Division heading into the season, have now dropped three straight. They're 2-3 and sitting in third place.

Goalie Power

It was a rather low-scoring weekend in the league, with Friday’s Colorado-Vancouver contest setting the tone. Keegan Bal and Mitch Jones each had four points, and Jordan McBride added a pair of goals in the Warriors' 7-5 home victory. It marked the second-lowest score in league history.

A day later, Colorado was on the other side of a goalie battle, shutting down the usually dangerous Saskatchewan Rush offense in a 12-6 win in Saskatoon. Dillon Ward made 53 saves, while the offense was fueled by five goals from Chris Wardle and a seven-point performance by Eli McLaughlin.

“We have a lot of character in our room. We’ve got a bunch of guys that have played together for a long time, and we know what they’re made of,” Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle told ColoradoMammoth.com. “We have so much pride that after last night’s result, we knew that we would bounce back and play better tonight.”

San Diego and Halifax were close to besting Colorado and Vancouver to tie for the lowest scoring game in league history before Stephen Keogh completed a natural hat trick in the final two minutes of action. His three straight capped off a four-goal Thunderbird run to secure an 8-5 victory and keep the team undefeated.

“It was an offense by committee,” Keogh told HalifaxThunderbirds.com. “Everyone moving their feet, moving the ball, and cutting really opened it up. [Cody Jamieson] is one of the best passers in the game, and he was finding me. It felt good to get the ball in the back of the net.”







Keeping it Rolling

The Black Wolves also stayed perfect, though not without controversy.

Callum Crawford’s leaping goal in overtime was reviewed, but the referees didn’t see enough to overturn the call on the field in an 8-7 victory for the Pack against Philadelphia. Perhaps that adds fuel to the natural rivalry between these two squads. We featured Callum Crawford last week on USLaxMagazine.com. You can read that story here.

Crawford’s goal ended a period of over 15 minutes of scoreless ball, as New England’s Joe Resetarits tied the score at seven 3:36 into the fourth.

The Bandits continued their strong bounce back from their Dec. 28 loss to Halifax with a second straight victory, this time against a North Division foe.

Two of Buffalo’s top young athletes took center stage, as Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser each recorded a hat trick in the Bandits’ 10-8 victory against Toronto. The Bandits scored the final two goals of the game, with Chris Cloutier netting the game-winner 9:31 into the fourth.

Among Fraser’s goals was this impressive no-look behind the back tally.

The Rock were playing without Tom Schreiber, who was placed on injured reserve earlier on Saturday. Rob Hellyer led the charge in his absence, notching five goals and an assist.

Closing the Week

Rochester wasn’t able to head into the work week feeling as good as it did after Saturday’s victory due to a back-to-earth 12-4 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Wings went on a 9-0 run spanning the end of the second to the early stages of the fourth to stay ahead of the Swarm in the East standings. Kevin Crowley and Cory Vitarelli each had five points, while Brett Hickey scored four times and Matt Rambo had five assists.

Zach Higgins was stellar in net, making 41 saves.

Noteworthy

The NLL announced a partnership with Roar Digital this week, making Roar’s sports betting brand, BetMGM, the official gaming partner of the league … Garrett Billings made his season debut with the Bandits after surprisingly signing a one-year deal with the team earlier in the week. He notched one assist and shot three times. Buffalo GM Steve Dietrich said during a halftime interview that the team had been negotiating with Billings for over a month … Field lacrosse star Dylan Molloy made his NLL debut with the Colorado Mammoth against Vancouver. He didn’t score in two outings … San Diego activated Casey Jackson from injured reserve. He had an assist in his return.

Up Next
All Times EST

Friday
New York at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Saturday
San Diego at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.
Halifax at Calgary, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday
Georgia at New England, 1 p.m.

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