The Rochester Knighthawks (7-3) earned the team’s fifth-straight win by defeating the Calgary Roughnecks (2-8) on the road by a score of 13-7 in front of 13,212 roaring fans at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. The Knighthawks beat the Roughnecks for the second time in three weeks, this time in convincing fashion.
“That’s a tough offense to play against,” said Knighthawks netminder Matt Vinc. “They run the ball well in transition, and I think we did a good job limiting their guys’ time and space. We didn’t really let too many of their guys get hot, you can’t let a guy like Shawn Evans and Dickson get hot, and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
It was a huge night for Vinc, who stopped 34 shots on goal and reached the 5,000 career saves milestone. While his strong play limited the Roughnecks to just seven goals, Vinc said it was a team effort.
“Our offense did a great job tonight,” he said. “You know last game we played them, they got a run and we were on our heels a bit, and tonight I think we did a good job answering back.”
The third quarter of the game was really the turnaround that the Knighthawks were looking for after coming back from a two-goal deficit in the second. Four goals off the sticks of Rochester was what they needed to get the ball rolling for the rest of the game.
“When we move the ball offensively, and move our feet, we have opportunities,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen.
The rest of the game was almost the opposite of the Roughnecks and Knighthawks previous contest, as they put up a hefty six goal lead against the ‘Necks in the fourth.
“It feels good. We’re just looking to get better and we got better from last time we played which is nice,” Hasen concluded.
The Roughnecks are now looking to pinpoint what went wrong during the second half, Riggers head coach Curt Malawsky believes that the mentality of the team wasn’t in the right place.
“We played a different emotional game in Edmonton than we did tonight,” Malawsky admitted. “When things got tough, we just didn’t keep fighting through it, we started looking for answers, and referees, and reasons, straight-up excuses.”
“Sometimes its fundamental mistakes that cost us one and then the other game it’s the mental side of it,” Malawsky added. “When the big lights are on and there’s pressure, and there’s a championship team with a world-class goaltender, things are going to go sideways… It’s 90% mental 10% physical and we gotta work on our mental game and get mentally tough.”
Roughnecks team captain Andrew McBride (0+1) agreed with his coach, after four goals by Rochester in the third, and then five more in the fourth, the team quickly lost their focus.
“Obviously the start of the second half wasn’t good and we let one little thing affect us,” McBride said. “We need to do a better job collectively as a group to not only move on quicker, but to believe in our abilities, and believe in ourselves. I don’t know why that’s becoming an issue. Maybe that’s because of the record, maybe that’s because of the situation we’re in.”
“Last year, we didn’t do that. Last year, we shook things off and we refocused right away,” McBride added. “We need to get back to refocusing right away when something negative happens.”
McBride believes that the Knighthawks’ consistency is the key to their success. The Roughnecks will have to focus hard on playing a consistent game to make the playoffs this year, as there are only eight games left in the regular season.
“They’re the three-time champs; they play a consistent game and they don’t panic,” said McBride about Rochester. “I think that game is more on us, the mistakes we made, the panicking we’re doing, just not things we’re doing consistently. Every game is a test here. There’s no more maneuverability. It’s time to go, we gotta win the last games we have left, we gotta go on a run here.”
“We gotta continue to believe in ourselves,” Malawsky said. “This thing is far from over, and we’re still at the point where we still control our own destiny.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Matt Vinc
2) Shawn Evans
3) Aaron Wilson
By Laura Bates (@RoughnecksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Rob McMorris.