NLL Week 9: K-Hawks and Bandits Face off in Western New York Battle

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NLL Week 9: K-Hawks and Bandits Face off in Western New York Battle
The Buffalo Bandits (left) and the Rochester Knighthawks (right) renew their rivalry this weekend (Credit: Jeff Folkins).

A Western New York rivalry will be renewed this weekend.

The Rochester Knighthawks will head to HSBC Arena in Buffalo on Saturday for the first of three meetings against the Bandits.

Rochester head coach Mike Hasen has played in the rivalry plenty of times as a Knighthawks player, but Saturday’s matchup will be the first for him against the Bandits as a coach. 

“It is a big difference because you have to control your emotions as players which sometimes is tough to do,” Hasen said. “On that end for me, that is going to be a tough factor trying to keep our emotions and energy in check because Buffalo plays a very physical game, and we have to be disciplined and smart with the ball and what we are doing without it.” 

The Knighthawks (5-4) are coming off of a 13-9 win over the Edmonton Rush last Saturday in which Rochester pulled away for the victory in the second and third quarters, outscoring Edmonton 8-2 in that time frame. 

“We felt that we moved the ball well and we capitalized on our scoring chances,” Hasen said on his team’s overall performance against the Rush. “We had quite a few guys put the ball in the net; we didn’t rely on one guy. We had a good game defensively. We kept Edmonton away from what we think they wanted to do.” 

Shawn Evans led all Rochester scorers in that game with three goals and two assists, bringing his overall point total to 40 on the season. 

“Shawn has been really good for us,” Hasen said of Evans. “He is a guy that constantly has his energy at 110 percent every time he is on the floor. He is shooting well, he is finding the open guy and he is having a very good year for us.” 

The Bandits (4-3) have been idle the past two weeks with their last game coming in a 10-9 loss to Philadelphia on Feb. 19. Even though Buffalo lost the game, head coach Darris Kilgour said he liked how his team played and it was just the penalties they took that hurt them in the contest.

Buffalo will be playing twice this weekend, as they’ll take on Boston on Sunday, but Kilgour said he is looking forward to game one of the weekend and is expecting another tight contest against the Knighthawks. 

“It is a huge game for both teams and it seems like every time we play it is a close game and it comes down to the last possession,” Kilgour said.

Buffalo and Rochester are chasing Toronto for the top spot in the Eastern Division, but if both teams can pick up solid wins this weekend, they can move up as high as second place in the East and one game behind the Rock. 

Saturday’s game between the Knighthawks and the Bandits will be broadcasted live by the NLL Network at NLL.com at 7:30 p.m. EST.

 

Now here is a look at the other five games in Week 9 of the National Lacrosse League.

 

Philadelphia Wings at Toronto Rock – Friday Mar. 4, 7:30 p.m. EST

If this matchup looks familiar, that’s because it is. 

The Wings and the Rock played each other last Saturday with Toronto winning 16-13. It was a close contest throughout and the only reason why the Rock came out as the victors was because they began the game with five unanswered goals. 

“We need to start better,” said Philadelphia head coach John Tucker. “To fall into a 5-0 hole against a great team is not what we had in mind. Spending the rest of the game trying to catch them was a difficult task.

“I thought overall we played pretty well. We made some big mistakes in some critical times that cost us.” 

Philadelphia (4-5) may be in the basement in the East, but they sure gained the respect of Toronto general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson after last week’s performance. 

“One of the problems [for us] is that Philadelphia executed very well, especially on their 6-on-5 which we didn’t make the proper adjustments,” Sanderson said of the Wings. “It had more to do with Philly’s offense clicking as opposed to what we were doing to stop them. 13 goals against is not acceptable from our stand point, but you have to give credit where credit is do.” 

The Wings and the Rock (8-2) will play game two of three in their season series on Friday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The game will be broadcasted live on TSN 2 for Canadian viewers.

 

Minnesota Swarm at Colorado Mammoth – Friday Mar. 4, 9 p.m. EST 

The Colorado Mammoth will have the chance at redemption and their first win at home in over a year. 

Colorado will host the Minnesota Swarm once again at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Friday night. These two teams played before the All-Star break with the Swarm taking the 12-10 win after going on a late run. 

At Wednesday’s league conference call, Colorado head coach Bob Hamley said his team needs to be better at all facets of the game, but mostly shooting the ball. 

“I think offensively we have to shoot the ball [better],” Hamley said. “I think we have the lowest shooting percentage among teams. That will be one focus that we will be working hard at during practice." 

The Mammoth (1-7) have faced a lot of good goaltenders this year and faced one two weeks ago in Swarm goalie Nick Patterson. Patterson made 47 saves on 57 shots in the Feb. 20 game against Colorado.

Game two of the season series between the Mammoth and the Swarm (4-4) will begin on Friday night at 9 p.m. EST.

 

Calgary Roughnecks at Philadelphia Wings – Saturday Mar. 5, 7 p.m. EST

Geoff Snider will be returning home, but in a Calgary Roughnecks sweater.

Snider, who played four seasons in Philadelphia, will be playing his first game at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday since leaving the Wings in the offseason.

“Geoff is a tremendous guy,” said Philadelphia head coach John Tucker. “We were sorry to see him go. It is unfortunate that he is not with our team, but again he is having an impact in a positive way for Calgary and it will be good to say hello and I’m sure the fans are going to embrace him.” 

In his four years with the Wings, Snider scored 58 goals while also adding 99 assists. Snider had a slow start this season, but has still scored five goals while also picking up 89 loose balls.

Philadelphia (4-5) will be coming off a game the night before against Toronto, while Calgary (5-3) has had two weeks off since their Feb. 20 victory over the Edmonton Rush.

Saturday’s game will begin at 7 p.m. EST from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

 

Washington Stealth at Edmonton Rush – Saturday Mar. 5, 9 p.m. EST

If it wasn’t for one bad weekend, the Washington Stealth might be on top in the Western Division standings. 

That weekend came on Feb. 11-12 in which Washington lost twice to the Edmonton Rush, who at the time was 0-5 on the season. 

Washington (4-5) will look to bounce back this week against Edmonton (2-7) and will have some additional firepower in their arsenal to do it. 

Jeff Zywicki will be back in the lineup for the Stealth after missing the last eight games with an injury. Zywicki’s presence should help Washington not only in scoring goals even strength, but also on the power play.

“Jeff is obviously a marquee player in this league,” said Washington head coach Chris Hall of Zywicki. “He would probably be a top five scorer in this league if he is able to play a full season. He also provides great leadership and makes our power play click which we are looking forward to as our power play has struggled since he’s been gone.”

Since the Stealth’s and Rush’s last meeting, Edmonton has struggled once again to get wins as they’ve lost 12-11 to Calgary on Feb. 20 and 13-9 to Rochester last Saturday. A win against Washington would help give Edmonton some momentum going into a bye week before another game with Calgary on Mar. 19.

 

Buffalo Bandits and Boston Blazers – Sunday Mar. 6, 5 p.m. EST

After two weeks off, the Boston Blazers can’t wait to get back onto the field.

The Blazers have won four games in a row and are close behind the Toronto Rock for first place in the Eastern Division. Second place Boston will have the chance to give themselves some breathing room in the East as they’ll play third place Buffalo on Sunday. 

“Buffalo is a quality team and they are a good test for any team and that is what we expect,” said Boston head coach Matt Sawyer. 

If either the Blazers (6-3) or the Bandits (4-3) want to think about catching the Rock for first place in the East, they’ll have to prove that they can beat each other as Sunday’s game will be the first of three meetings between the squads in the final seven weeks. 

The Blazers are coming off of a 14-11 victory over Minnesota on Feb. 19 while Buffalo will hope to be coming into Sunday’s game off of a win on Saturday against Rochester.

Sunday’s game will begin at 5 p.m. EST at the TD Garden in Boston. Both teams will play again next week in Buffalo.

All six week 9 National Lacrosse League games will be broadcasted live on the NLL Network at NLL.com (Canadian Blackout for Toronto-Philadelphia game on Friday).

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