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KNIGHTHAWKS’ DEFENSE STANDS TALL
02/09/2014 - 4:14pm

By Andrea Chevalier – Matt Vinc was perfect for almost 39 minutes Saturday night. The three-time NLL Goalie of the Year limited the Buffalo Bandits to a season-low six goals in a 9-6 victory.

Vinc blanked Buffalo for 38:39 en route to the Knighthawks’ fourth-straight home in front of 9,280 fans at The Blue Cross Arena. The win marked the first time since 2007 that the Knighthawks have started 4-0 at home.

“They handed us our first loss a couple of weeks ago and we owed them one,” said Knighthawks Assistant Captain Mike Kirk. “They are a great team and we had to come out and play our best, play a full 60 (minutes). We got our win tonight.”

Vinc made 33 saves kept the Bandits goalless in the first half. This marked the second time in Bandits’ history that they were held scoreless in a half. The other time was during the 2010 season while playing against the Orlando Titans and Vinc.

“We haven’t had a shutout like that in a while,” said Kirk. “We broke down a couple of times but ‘Vno’ was there to make the saves and it’s good for our offense to know that we’re shutting the door and they can keep doing their thing.”

Joe Walters opened the scoring late in the first quarter with a shot from far out that beat Buffalo’s goalie Anthony Cosmo at 10:31. Mike Accursi, who was playing in his first home game since 2013, scored Rochester’s second goal of the night 6:14 into the second. Cory Vitarelli scored a pair of goals at 10:06 and 11:38 to make it 4-0. Cutting close to the crease, Dan Dawson rounded out scoring for the half, giving the Knighthawks a solid 5-0 lead.

“We were just dictating a little bit, putting on as much pressure as we could,” said Knighthawks Head Coach Mike Hasen. “It was a big team effort tonight.”

A four-goal run in the third quarter for Buffalo cut Rochester’s lead to on at 5-4. But the Knighthawks got a big power-play goal from Cody Jamieson to give Rochester a 6-4 advantage after three.

 “Lacrosse is a game of runs,” said Jamieson. “We don’t expect a shutout at any time. You’re going to get goals so we just had to limit their runs. That four-goal run was a couple too many but we stopped it and went on a run of our own.”

Rochester tacked on another goal 1:06 into the fourth as Vitarelli completed his first hat trick of the season. Chad Culp scored to bring the Bandits within one goal again. Yet, Accursi scored 1:11 later to give him his second goal of the night. Joel McCready then extended his scoring streak to 12 games off a shot from far out to give the Knighthawks a four-goal lead. Ryan Benesch was able to put one more goal past Vinc for the Bandits before the end of the game.

“(The win) was one we definitely needed coming off the two losses on the road,” said Hasen. “We’re happy with the end result but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Vinc was awarded with Player of the Game and first Star of the Game. Jamieson received second start honors with one goal and three assists. Third Star of the game was given to Vitarelli with three goals.

To show their support of former Knighthawk Shawn Williams’ son, Tucker, who was recently diagnosed with Stage III Burkitt Lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the Knighthawks were selling T-shirts at the game with the logo “Braver than Brave” on them. Proceeds from the sales went to support the Williams family, while Tucker is undergoing treatment. Williams played for 10 seasons for the Knighthawks.

The Knighthawks will play their next three games on the road, starting next weekend in Toronto on Saturday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. Rochester will return home on Saturday, March 8th to take on the Philadelphia Wings at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Knighthawks office at (585) 454-4295.   


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