The Knighthawks (3-4) averaged over 17 goals per game in their back-to-back wins on against Philadelphia February 8th and Buffalo on February 9th, but could not find their rhythm against goaltender Anthony Cosmo. Cosmo made 54 saves on 60 shots for a .900 save percentage.
A different defensive game plan allowed the Bandits (4-3) to hold Rochester to a mere six goals after giving up 15 in last weekend's defeat.
"Normally Buffalo really pressures out, but tonight they did something completely different," said Rochester forward Mike Accursi. "They needed to change something, so they packed it right in. They were letting us settle for the outside shot."
"Their defense changed up their strategy," Joe Walters said. "They packed it in a little bit more. It made our job a little bit tougher.
"You kind of have to take what they give you, and they weren't falling. We going to learn from it, and we just have to be better next week."
Rochester outshot the Bandits 60-51, but was unable to take advantage.
"I don't think they're hitting the shots that they get," said Buffalo head coach Darris Kilgour about the Rochester offense. "They are creating good opportunities. As a coach and as a player, you just have to say keep doing it and believe in it. When they hit their shots, they're a really tough team to beat."
The Knighthawks held their only lead, 3-2 in the second quarter, for only 2:40. Led by Luke Wiles (3+1), the Bandits led 5-3 at the half, and broke away in the third quarter.
Cory Vitarelli cut the deficit to 5-4 with a goal 55 seconds into the half. The momentum didn't last long, as Buffalo scored four of the next five to take a four-goal lead. Nick Cotter followed Vitarelli with a crease dive that was originally ruled no goal, but was successfully challenged by Kilgour. Wiles closed the third quarter with his hat-trick goal.
Dan Dawson opened the fourth quarter with a goal, charging to the net on the left-wing side, but that would be all for the Knighthawks during the final 15 minutes. Chad Culp regained a four-goal lead, 10-6, for Buffalo approximately three minutes later.
"We were a little stagnate on offense tonight," Walters said. "We didn't play the way we were playing in the last couple of games. The ball was kind of dying in people's sticks. The ball wasn't moving like it was in the last two games. Credit their goalie; I thought he made great saves."
Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc made 41 saves on 51 shots, and for the most part, was able to match Cosmo's performance on the opposite end of the floor. According to the Rochester locker room, the team was happy with the effort on defense, holding the Bandits to 10 goals.
"You hold any team to 10 in this league, you expect to be on the right side of the end of the game," said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. "They had some good looks, and Vinc saved us a few times. For the most part, we kind of did what we wanted to do (on defense). A couple squeaked by Vinc that normally don't, and if he gets those, it's a little bit of a different game."
"I thought (the offense) had a lot of really good chances tonight, and I thought Cosmo made some good saves," said Rochester defenseman Rory Glaves. "We got a great offense, and I thought they made a lot of great plays and had a lot of really good shots."
The Knighthawks were only 2-for-6 on the power play, but did kill four of the five chance Buffalo had with a man advantage. The Rochester offense was led by Cody Jamieson, who scored one goal with two assists.
On Saturday, February 23rd, the Knighthawks host the Philadelphia Wings at 7:30 p.m. The game will conclude the annual Teddy Bear Auction to benefit the CURE Childhood Cancer Association.
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