SATURDAY’S WIN COULD BE TURNING POINTMar 6, 2017
By Craig Rybczynski -- A turning point in a season can hinge on one play or one moment. The Rochester Knighthawks can certainly make an argument that their fortunes have changed, following their 9-8 come-from-behind overtime win against the Buffalo Bandits. The victory Saturday afternoon was one of the most dramatic wins in recent years.
“You always think about that one moment where things changed or where you turned the corner,” said Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc. “I think that’s a good team win for us, especially with a young group offensively. Coming up with a big goal sets the tone for us heading into another tough game in two weeks at New England.”
The big goal, referenced by Vinc, was scored by rookie Josh Currier with just 2.1 seconds to play in regulation. It was Scott Campbell who stripped the ball from Dhane Smith, and Graeme Hossack who rifled a pass to Currier. The 23-year-old forward then slipped by his defender, raced in on goal, and whipped a shot past Buffalo’s Davide DiRuscio to tie the contest at eight.
“What a character goal,” said Dan Dawson. “To be poised like that with two defenders chasing him down. We’re proud of the way he has played all season. He really got us there.”
In overtime, Dawson ended the comeback bid with a shot from the outside that beat DiRuscio to give Rochester an emotional 9-8 victory. The win allowed Rochester to pull within one-half game of Buffalo and New England in the standings for the third and final playoff spot in the East Division.
“It was a defensive-minded game with two outstanding performances by the goalies,” said Dawson. “You knew you were going to fight for goals tonight. We got the one that counted. It was a much needed win to stay in the playoff hunt.”
Vinc was outstanding in goal, as he opened the game with a 13-save first quarter as Rochester pulled in front 2-0. Down the stretch, he was there when his team needed him the most. In the second half, he turned away point-blank shots by Smith and Mitch Jones. He also denied a transition opportunity by Brier Jonathan early in the fourth, blocking the shot with his left pad and then reaching behind him to smother the rebound.
“He’s a rock back there,” said Campbell. “When the chips are down, he’s the one you want in net. It’s another example of him being the best goalie in the world.”
The win was Rochester’s second in three games and ended the busiest portion of the team’s schedule. Saturday was the fifth game in 15 days for Rochester, who will now have a weekend off before heading to New England for a showdown on Friday, March 17. The team savored the win, but now it’s time to refocus on their next divisional opponent.
“Today, the execution and urgency were both there and it led to a win,” said Dawson on Saturday. “We know we’re going to have to grind out games. There’s a lot of things that we can correct and get better at during this bye week. We are not going to settle and take any days off. We’ll look at some game film, get some workouts in, and keep the stick in our hands, and hopefully continue down the right path.”