K-Hawks Take Key Step Towards Playoff Berth
by Travis Larner | NLL.com
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Rochester Knighthawks (6-5) earned an important victory on their road towards securing a playoff spot with a 13-10 win at Blue Cross Arena over the Philadelphia Wings (4-8) Saturday night.
A five-goal fourth quarter vaulted the Knighthawks over the Wings in the tight contest. Down 12-10 on the power play with less than four minutes remaining in the game, the Philadelphia offense was unable to find the back of the net. Then with 47 seconds remaining, Shawn Evans sealed the deal with his only goal of the night.
"It was definitely a must win," said Rochester defenseman Scott Campbell. "These guys are chasing us and we need to make sure we stay ahead of these guys to at least get in the playoffs."
Campbell scored the first goal of the game for Rochester, which tied the contest at 1-1 following Brendan Mundorf's goal for Philadelphia. Cory Vitarelli, making his debut with the Knighthawks, then scored his first two career goals within a minute to give his team a 3-1 lead.
"It was a good first experience. To get the win obviously makes it pretty special," said Vitarelli, who missed the first 10 games of the season while playing hockey at the University of Prince Edward Island. "I kind of got open in the middle a couple times and was lucky enough to get the ball and find the back of the net."
Ryan Boyle tied the game with two goals in the final minute of the opening quarter. With goaltender Brandon Miller on the bench to give the offense an extra man, Boyle scored his second goal as the quarter expired.
"It's probably the biggest loss of the season so far," said Miller. "It was a really important game for us being a game and a half back of them coming in. If we want to make the playoffs, that's a team we need to beat."
The rest of the game went back and forth as neither team took more than a one-goal lead until late in the fourth quarter. Athan Iannucci gave the Wings a 4-3 lead at the start of the second quarter with a diving shot across the crease.
Craig Point scored both his goals in the second quarter, receiving assists on both from Shawn Williams. The Knighthawks took a 6-5 lead into the half following the latter of Point's goals.
"I thought we played a pretty sound game on both ends of the floor," said Williams. "Obviously, we made mistakes on both ends of the floor. At the end of the day, we made less mistakes, and we came up with the victory."
Philadelphia began the third quarter on the power play following a bench minor against Rochester at the end of the first half. Drew Westervelt, who earned a point on all of Philadelphia's second half goals, began the third quarter with a power play goal, followed by another goal from Mundorf to give the Wings a 7-6 lead.
Westervelt added another power play goal halfway through the third quarter to again give the Wings a one-goal lead at 8-7.
Campbell tied the game at 8-8 for the Knighthawks, but Philadelphia's David Brock would give his team a 9-8 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Rochester rookies Cody Jamieson and Jarrett Davis each scored in the final period. After Jamieson's team-leading 18th goal, Davis scooped up the rebound off a blocked shot and scored while falling forward to give the Knighthawks an 11-9 advantage.
Iannucci tip-toed the crease before beating Rochester goaltender Matt Vinc to cut the deficit back to one goal. Just eight seconds later, Campbell completed his hat-trick off the ensuing faceoff and the Knighthawks took a 12-10 lead.
"I thought we competed pretty hard and were in position to win," said Philadelphia head coach John Tucker. "We made some mental errors at the end and they took advantage of them."
The Rochester offense was lead by Evans (1g, 5a), Williams (6a), Jordan Hall (2g, 3a) and Davis (1g, 3a). Vinc earned his sixth win of the season, stopping 26 shots.
Mundorf (2g, 4a), Westervelt (2g, 3a), Iannucci (2g, 2a) and Alex Turner (5a) fueled the Philadelphia offense. Miller made many quality stops, finishing the game with 40 total saves.
With the win, Rochester is now third in the East, two and a half games behind the first place Toronto Rock. Philadelphia remains at the bottom of the division, one and a half games behind the Boston Blazers for the final playoff spot.
"Every game is a battle, but at the same time, we need to take it one game at a time," Rochester head coach Mike Hasen said about the race in the East Division. "We'll enjoy tonight, but tomorrow we need to work on Boston."
The Knighthawks travel to Boston next Saturday, April 2 to face the Blazers at 7:30pm ET. The Wings host the Toronto Rock the same night at 7pm ET.