Buffalo Losing Streak Hits Six with Loss to Rochester
by Travis Larner, NLL.com
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Rochester Knighthawks ended their four-game home losing streak against the Buffalo Bandits with a 13-10 win Saturday afternoon at the Blue Cross Arena.
Everything seemed to work in the first three quarters for the Knighthawks (5-5), who put together one of their best defensive performance of the season paired with a seven-goal second quarter to move into sole possession of second place in the East Division, one half-game behind Philadelphia.
“It was nice. The last couple weeks we had to focus on our defensive end and I think tonight — for 3 1/2 quarters — we were doing a really good job,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. “Overall, we’re happy with the win today.”
Rochester goaltender Matt Vinc held Buffalo (2-6) scoreless in the second, allowing the Knighthawks to take a commanding 10-3 lead. Craig Point broke the 3-3 tie just 18 seconds into the quarter.
Mike Accursi, who won the 2008 NLL championship with the Bandits, reached two milestones during the win. With an assist on Point’s goal, Accursi tallied his 300th point as a Knighthawk and his 400th career assist. The 15-year pro finished tied as Rochester’s leading scorer with six points, all assists.
“It just means I’ve played a long time I guess,” Accursi said with a laugh. “Yeah, the stats are nice, but ultimately I want more rings on my fingers. That’s my goal and that’s my focus. Points come with that.”
Cody Jamieson completed his hat trick with 10:57 remaining in the second quarter, extending the Knighthawks lead to 6-3. Immediately after the goal, Buffalo head coach Darris Kilgour replaced starting goaltender Mike Thompson with recently acquired Anthony Cosmo.
“One of our goals was to see both goalies. We got some good shots, some good looks and we were able to see both,” said Accursi.
The Knighthawks offense continued to roll after the change in the net. Brad Self scored short-handed 1:15 later, stretching his goal-scoring streak to six games. Cory Vitarelli added two consecutive goals before the half, with the first coming on the power play.
Each team scored twice in the third quarter, allowing the Knighthawks to hold onto their seven-goal advantage at 12-5. However, in the fourth quarter, Buffalo outscored Rochester 5-1, closing the gap and nearly completing the comeback.
Buffalo, which has dropped a franchise-record six straight, scored the final two goals of the game on the man advantage following a five-minute major for spearing by Jamieson, putting the Knighthawks down a man for the remaining 2:17.
“Our last penalties were selfish plays. We just got to pull our heads out of our butt there. Suck it up, take that extra slash, and run to the bench and just go back on the floor and just do our jobs,” said Hasen.
Vinc, who allowed only eight goals last Saturday in a win over Philadelphia, put together another strong performance. The reigning NLL Goaltender of the Year made 49 saves, extending his NLL league-leading total to 378.
“I didn’t get a lot of quality looks early in the game. It just makes it a lot easier back there when I know that our guys are going to be on their hands and not give them quality looks,” said Vinc.
Jamieson finished the game six points (three goals, three assists). Vitarelli and Johnny Powless netted three goals each for Rochester.
Luke Wiles led the Bandits offense with six points (one goal, five assists). Despite scoring Buffalo’s first two goals, John Tavares added only two assists over the final 52-plus minutes.
Rochester won consecutive games for the first time this season, but won’t play again until March 24 when they host Toronto.
“We’re going to take a little time off and recover and refresh the bones a little bit. In a week’s time from now, I guess we’ll hit the ground running again and start working on fixing our mistakes,” said Hasen.