ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Last night in Saint Paul the Rochester Knighthawks ended their game with the Minnesota Swarm with an offensive outburst. In Saturday night’s rematch the Knighthawks (11-4) began the game with one as they jumped out to a big lead and never looked back during a 12-9 win over the Swarm (3-12) at Blue Cross Arena.
Less than 24 hours after the two teams faced off in game one of the doubleheader, Rochester was able to race out to a 5-1 lead in the first quarter, putting the Swarm into a hole they were unable to climb out of. The win gave the Knighthawks a three-game season sweep over their East Division rival. While fatigue from a long travel day might have been a factor, Minnesota F Callum Crawford believes it is no excuse.
“[Playing a doubleheader] is always tough. The travel and everything is not ideal, but at the same time the other team does it too,” Crawford explained. “There is no advantage one way or the other.”
Rochester kicked off their first-quarter barrage when forwards Stephen Keogh (2g, 6a) and Johnny Powless (5g) combined for two goals in the first three minutes, beating Swarm starting goaltender Tyler Carlson at 1:11 an 2:55 respectively. The Knighthawks extended their lead to three on the first of F Cory Vitarelli’s four goals, a goal that was answered quickly by Crawford (3g, 1a) who got Minnesota on the board. Rochester was able to gain control back however as Keogh and Powless each added another one before the first quarter came to an end.
While Minnesota was able to stay in contention thanks to a pair of three-goal runs that brought them within two of the Knighthawks at halftime and within three for much of the fourth quarter, they still came out short despite owning a 51-39 lead in shots-on-goal. Crawford’s hat trick and F Logan Schuss’ four-point night (2g, 2a) led the Swarm attack while F Shayne Jackson (1g, 2a) and T Jordan MacIntosh (3a) also contributed.
“I don’t know if they did a whole lot different [defensively], or if it was just not getting the looks we got last night,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said. “I’m still pretty proud of the guys for putting up the numbers we did across two games against this team.”
Minnesota pushed back in the second quarter, which they were able to outscore the Knighthawks 4-2. Swarm T David Earl scored his second goal of the year at 1:35, but Rochester responded by adding goals from Powless and Vitarelli to extend their lead to 7-2. However the rest of the half was all Minnesota as a Crawford power play marker and a pair of goals by T Tyler Hass reduced the Knighthawk lead to 7-5 heading into the break.
Any momentum the Swarm built leading up to halftime was quickly squashed as play resumed in the third quarter, as Rochester kick-started a 4-0 run of their own just 23 seconds in when Pat McCready intercepted an errant pass in the Swarm end and beat Carlson from point-blank range. After the Knighthawks extended their lead to a game high six goals with Vitarelli’s fourth of the night at 8:19, Schuss scored consecutive goals, the first on the power play, to cut the lead to 11-7 heading into the final quarter.
The Swarm had a chance to pull a similar comeback that Rochester did the night before, as they trailed by three with four minutes to go in regulation, but a key penalty kill by the Knighthawks and a few solid saves by G Angus Goodleaf prevented any late Minnesota rally. Goodleaf, making his first start since 2011 and his first in a Rochester uniform made 42 saves in picking up the victory.
Minnesota returns to Saint Paul to end the 2014 with a trio of games at The Hive. While their playoff hopes were still alive at the conclusion of Saturday’s game, Crawford wants his team to finish strong regardless on whether or not there is a postseason for the Swarm.
“We need to win and get some momentum–for chemistry, for next year, maybe for our own pride,” Crawford said. “I would love to finish on a high note and get three wins, at the very least for our fans.”
The homestand begins next Saturday against the Buffalo Bandits during the Swarm’s fourth-annual Hive Cares Night, benefitting the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund. Minnesota will be wearing special edition jerseys for the 7 p.m. CT matchup, which will be auctioned off online. A Swarm game is something that has to be experienced live to be fully understood. Fans can get that experience in The Hive for as low as $22 for a lower-level seat. Fans looking to lock up pro-rated season packages can still take advantage of a special Buy 2, Get 2 25%-Off promotion for the remainder of the 2014 Season. Visit mnswarm.com or call 888-667-9276 for more information.