Nov 18, 2017

(November 18, 2017)… The Rochester Knighthawks opened their National Lacrosse League preseason schedule Saturday afternoon with a 14-7 win over the New England Black Wolves at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) in Six Nations.

“I thought we played really well,” said Knighthawks forward Kyle Jackson. “We play a different style of lacrosse this year, which is really nice. We were getting up and down the floor (more). It was nice to see everyone was able to do that and we executed when we needed to today.”

The Knighthawks’ effort was backed by goals from nine different players. Jackson was one of the catalysts as he scored two goals and added three assists. The 2017 NLL All-Rookie Team member was one of three players who posted five-point nights, joining Joe Resetarits (3+2) and Cory Vitarelli (2+3). Dan Dawson orchestrated the offense by assisting on half of Rochester’s tallies.

Rochester head coach Mike Hasen was pleased with the balanced offense and was impressed with the play of a pair of rookies: Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell. Shanks finished with one goal and one assist, while Fannell scored twice in the fourth quarter to go along with one assist.

“Austin Shanks did a good job working with Dawson, ‘Rezy’ (Joe Resetaits) and Quinn (Powless),” said Hasen. “He can move the ball and shoot it really well.”

Hasen said about Fannell: “Eric was up there bumping and grinding and creating space. He had some good hands to finish one inside.”

The preseason opener was a back-and-forth affair in the first half with neither team leading by more than one goal until midway through the second quarter. Rochester took the first two-goal lead of the contest by scoring the last three goals of the first half to pull ahead 6-4. Rookie Austin Shanks’ first goal of the preseason, at the five-minute mark, tied the game at four and sparked the 3-0 run.

“In the second we played quick and we played with flow. Offensively, everybody was touching the ball,” said Hasen. “Defensively, we were doing what we wanted to do tonight.”

Rochester received a 33-save effort from Angus Goodleaf, who played the first three quarters. “Gussy” had 21 stops in the first half, which included a toe save to deny New England’s Sheldon Burns’ breakaway attempt late in the second quarter. Craig Wende played the final quarter and made nine saves.

Backed by solid goaltending, the Knighthawks outscored the Black Wolves 8-3 in the second half. In the third, Rochester netted two of the quarter’s three goals to take an 8-5 lead. Rochester then tallied six times in the fourth to break open the contest. The Knighthawks finished off the game with a pretty behind-the-back goal from Jackson and a rebound marker from Vitarelli.

Putting up five points was a bonus for “Dogger,” who was more concerned with getting some real game experience.

“First off, it’s just nice to be back out on the floor in a game situation; it has been a while,” he said. “I think being a veteran, and knowing preseason games are different than league games, helped me settle in a little quicker.”

The Knighthawks are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 19, as they battle the rival Buffalo Bandits at 11:00 a.m. at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.

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