The Rochester Knighthawks remained perfect at home this season after defeating the Philadelphia Wings 13-8 tonight at The Blue Cross Arena. Rochester improved to 7-3 with its fifth straight home win of the season.
Rochester outscored Philadelphia 5-1 in the fourth quarter to win for the 15th time in 16 games against the Wings. Cody Jamieson led the way offensively with four goals and one assist, while Dan Dawson (1+5) and Stephen Keogh (2+4) each notched six-point nights. Joe Walters also chipped in one goal and four assists. It was a balanced offensive effort with Rochester getting goals from seven different players.
“Everyone had some good numbers. When we move the ball we are tough to stop,” said Knighthawks Head Coach Mike Hasen.
Rochester also took advantage of its four power-play chances, scoring three times. Back-to-back goals on the man-advantage gave Rochester its first lead of the game in the second quarter, as Jamieson and Vitarelli scored to make it 5-4. For Vitarelli, the goal was part of a two-goal, one assist effort.
In goal, Matt Vinc turned aside 34 shots and the defense clamped down on the Wings’ offense, limiting them to three goals in the second half. When Philadelphia did get a shot off they had to first get it past shot blockers like Ian Llord, who stopped three shots, and Scott Self. Defenseman Jon Sullivan also played one of his best game of the season with timely hits, five loose balls and a fantastic interception of a potential breakaway pass in the fourth quarter.
“I've said it multiple times that I'm spoiled with these guys in front of me,” said Vinc. “This has been going on for a few years. They battle and play airtight defense in front of me. A lot of times it's awesome to watch. You can see the fans appreciate it, whether it's a blocked shot, a loose ball, or a big hit, and they're doing it in a lot of different ways.”
With the game tied at five after two quarters, Rochester emerged from the locker room to score three of the first four goals of the third quarter. Vitarelli opened the scoring at 1:32 and after a Jordan Hall (3+2) goal for the Wings, Walters fired in a goal from the slot to make it 7-6. Walters' goal 5:06 into the third quarter was his 10th of the season, which is a career high.
“It's nice,” Walters said. “I really just care about us as a team. I think our goal is every week we play, every week we practice to get better as a team. I think we're starting to do that.”
After Walters’ goal, Joel McCready took an inside pass from Dawson and slammed it in to give the Knighthawks an 8-6 advantage. Garrett Thul would score with under five minutes to play in the third to cut the Rochester lead to one. The goal was his only point of the game as the Knighthawks’ defense – which includes Team Captain Sid Smith, Mike Kirk, Paul Dawson, Dylan Evans, Scott Campbell, Sullivan, Llord, and Brad and Scott Self – shutdown the rookie. Wings’ leading point producer Kyle Buchanan was also limited to one assist.
The fourth quarter belonged to Rochester as Jamieson scored back-to-back goals to give his club a 10-7 lead. The lone Philadelphia came from Kevin Crowley and the Knighthawks answered with the game’s final three goals. Johnny Powless scored his second of the game at 6:50 and Dawson beat two defenders, burying a bounce shot to power Rochester to a commanding 12-8 lead. Keogh added a late empty-net goal to give him 24 points in his last four games.
“I'm just trying to go hard every shift,” Keogh said. “The ball's been falling for me the last couple games. I'm just trying to do anything to help the team. We've got so many great players on offense, it could be anyone's night each night.”
The K-Hawks will travel to play Toronto and Philadelphia next weekend. Rochester plays the Toronto Rock on Saturday, March 15th at 7:00 p.m. and then flies to Philly to play the Wings Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The Knighthawks will return home on Saturday, March 29th to take on the Edmonton Rush. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
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