Knighhawks return for the NLL Cup

ROCHESTER — It’s going to be the Rochester Knighthawks and the Saskatchewan Rush playing in a two-game, home and home series for the newly designed National Lacrosse League Championship Cup next week. Saskatchewan defeated the Calgary Roughnecks 15-13 out west and the Knighthawks squeeze by the Georgia Swarm 9-8 in the semi-final round.

It will. Be the first time in three years they make it to the Big Show to play for the Championship Cup.

It seems the early strategy by both teams seemed was to slow the game down, be extra careful with the ball, take good care of your defensive zone, and wait for the opponent to make a mistake.

But the last quarter was wild, with both teams pouring it on.

They always say that to win a championship your best players have to be your best players and that was no more evident that in this game.

Cody Jamieson opened the first quarter for Rochester at 12:30 and Miles Thompson matched that at 4:16 from brother Lyle and Randy Staats. Miles Thompson opened the second quarter scoring, but it wasn’t until 5:55, but Jamieson answered, unassisted, with 56 seconds remaining in the half, tying it up at 2-2 at halftime.

Randy Staats scored for Georgia to open the second half at 1:50, but Jamieson scored his third of the game at 2:12, and now it was 3-3 where it reminded until 11:53 when Rochester’s Josh Currier put the Knighthawks ahead 4-3 and 15 minutes left to play.

Both teams exploded with offence in the last quarter starting with Eric Fannell’s goal at 48 seconds assisted by Joe Resetarits and Jamieson. Randy Staats answered for the Swarm at 1:44.

The Knighthawks turned it on with Austin Shanks, Scott Campbell and Kyle Jackson potting Rochester goals between 2:32 and 3:55.

Now, Georgia turned it on with the Thompsons doing what they have done throughout their NLL careers.

Miles scored back-to-back goals at 5:20 and 6:42 with Lyle chipping in another at 7:15 for a miraculous comeback but still behind 8-7.

Austin Shanks scored his second of the game for the Knighthawks to make it a two-goal lead at 9-7, but there was still a lot of time on the clock, certainly enough for the Swarm to complete the comeback.

Rochester went back to its defensive style holding off waves of Swarm attackers but Shayne Jackson got through the Rochester curtain of defence to bring the Swarm to within one of the Knighthawks and three minutes to play.

The Rochester defence, led by Six Nations’ Sid Smith, and Matt Vinc’s stellar play, built a wall the Swarm was unable to break through as the Knighthawks held on for the 9-8 win.

The first game of the finals begins Saturday, May 26th, at the Sasktel Centre in  Saskatoon. Game 2 will be back at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, the following Saturday night at 8 pm. There will be a tiebreaker game if necessary to be announced.

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