Aug 26, 2017

bantam-day-two2.jpg(August 26, 2017)… With all the intensity fans have come to expect from a Buffalo-Rochester game, the Jr. Knighthawks and Jr. Bandits played back-to-back games that came down to the final seconds. Behind some late-game heroics, the Jr. Knighthawks were able to sweep the two-game set against Buffalo.

“It’s always awesome to beat a Buffalo team at any level – PeeWee, Bantam, Midget or pro,” said Jr. Knighthawks coach Brad Gillies. “Every one of these games have been one or two-goal games very much like you see at our level. It has been a pretty cool tournament with games going down to the wire. It was great to get two wins today after we dropped one yesterday (to Buffalo).”

Adding their names to the oldest rivalry in the National Lacrosse League was exciting for the Jr. Knighthawks.

“It was pretty intense because I know the rivalry between the actual NLL teams,” said Jr. Knighthawks Bantam goalie William Dempsey. “I felt like I was a part of that today.”

In the first matchup of the day between the western New York rivals, Dempsey made 31 saves – including one in the final minute – to help the Jr. Knighthawks defeat the Jr. Bandits 6-5.

“It’s one of those moments that your adrenaline kicks in because you have been working hard that last period,” said Dempsey. “You are tired, but you have to do something or you just let your whole team down.”

The Jr. Knighthawks opened the game by blitzing the Jr. Bandits for four unanswered goals before a packed house at Glen Abbey Recreation Centre. Cole Beardsley, Caden Padelford, Jonathan Pierce and Gabe Edwards all connected for Rochester.

The Jr. Knighthawks took a 4-1 lead into the second half as Buffalo started chipping away at the deficit. The Jr. Bandits got back into the contest by scoring three of the first four goals to open the second half to pull within one at 5-4. Pierce netted the lone Rochester goal during that stretch as he buried a shorthanded marker for his team’s fifth goal.

Pierce finished the game with a team-high four points (2+2), picking up his last point on the game-winner with 4:43 to play. Ethan Shappee notched the decisive goal as he fired a shot while falling down to make it 6-4 Jr. Knighthawks.

“I got it off a rebound, fell back and just shot,” he said. “It felt good as I saw it go in.”

The game between the Midget teams was filled with even more drama as Rochester used two goals in the closing seconds to earn a 7-5 victory. Jared Hill provided the game-winner as he scored off a great pick and roll to give the Jr. Knighthawks a 6-5 lead with just 36 seconds to play.

“I dragged my man in and then I got a pick,” said Hill. “I got on the top left shooter and both men came up; I was wide open on the crease and put it five-hole.”

Casey McDermott added an empty-net tally 13 seconds later to help the Midget team improve to 2-1. Also contributing on the offensive end were Hill, Calvin Tourangeau and Lukas Stanat, who each recorded one goal and one assist.

In goal, the Jr. Knighthawks were backstopped by a 16-save effort from Gage Stevens. After the game, McDermott said that Stevens was the difference in the win over the rival Bandits.

“He played phenomenal. He came up with some real tough saves and it helped us win,” he said.

With Stevens holding Buffalo at bay, the Jr. Knighthawks were able to mount the late rally. On the offensive side, the Jr. Knighthawks got a four-point effort from Pierce, while Edwards and Connor each chipped in one goal and one assist.

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