KNIGHTHAWKS COME UP JUST SHORT IN GAME THREEJun 10, 2018
(June 9, 2018)… The Rochester Knighthawks finished one win short of completing one of the most incredible mid-season turnarounds in team and league history. Once a 2-6 team, Rochester roared through the second half of the 2017-18 campaign and forced a decisive Game Three in the NLL Finals.
Rochester’s season, however, came to an end in Saskatoon in a 15-10 loss to the Saskatchewan Rush Saturday night. Similar to their season, the Knighthawks battled right to the final buzzer.
“It is an awful feeling right now, but I can’t say enough about their compete level and what they do for each other,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “This group is special… because we weren’t supposed to be here.”
Rochester proved it belonged in the winner-take-all game as they rallied from a 6-4 halftime deficit to take an 8-7 lead at 9:42 of the third on Cody Jamieson’s third of the night. “Jammer” finished with four points, while Austin Shanks led the way with six (1+5).
Shanks was one of the offensive catalysts in the first half as he had a hand in all four goals, scoring once and assisting on three others. In the third quarter, he picked up his fourth assist on the go-ahead goal by Jamieson.
“We thought we had a lot of momentum going our way,” said Shanks. “But we got in a little penalty trouble, and they took advantage of that and ran with it.”
The Rush ended the third with three straight goals to take a 10-8 lead. But the Knighthawks were not done, as they mounted another rally. Trailing 11-8, Eric Fannell and Josh Currier got Rochester within one at 11-10.
The goal was Currier’s fourth of the game and gave him back-to-back four-goal efforts in the NLL Finals. The Peterborough, Ontario opened the scoring in the first quarter and scored twice during Rochester’s third-quarter comeback. His third of game tied the contest at seven.
“We were excited but we knew what they were capable of doing, so we were never complacent,” said the third-year pro about tying the game. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on the winning end.”
Despite the setback, the Knighthawks finished the season by winning 11 of their last 14 games. During that stretch, Rochester clinched the second seed in the East Division and then knocked off New England and Georgia en route to the 2018 Finals.
The appearance in the Finals was a league-best 10th for the Knighthawks. With 16 players playing for their first Cup, getting so close will serve as a learning experience for a team filled with promising young stars.
“The roller-coaster (season) we went through made us stronger,” said Hasen. "The guys learned if you stick to the process you can overcome a 2-6 start and have an opportunity to win a championship."