The Rochester Knighthawks, behind a 40-save effort from Matt Vinc, grounded the potent Vancouver Stealth offense in a 10-7 win tonight at The Blue Cross Arena.
Combined with Buffalo’s loss to the Minnesota Swarm, the Knighthawks (12-4) clinched the East Division title. The division crown, Rochester’s first since 2007, secures a first-round bye in the 2014 Champion’s Cup Playoffs.
Rochester outscored the Stealth 7-3 in the second half and 4-1 down the stretch to erase a 4-3 Vancouver halftime lead. In the second half, Rochester’s defense went into shutdown mode, allowing only two even strength goals. Sid Smith was a force on defense, forcing turnovers and picking off passes. Paul Dawson and Ian Llord were also planted in front of Vinc and blocked several shots. Vinc was equally as impressive, making 25 saves in the first half and 15 in the second.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Knighthawks got multiple goal-efforts from four different players. Craig Point finished the game with a team-high three goals to go along with one assist. Point’s first of the night tied the game at four. He scored a quick stick marker off a feed from Cody Jamieson just 58 seconds into the third quarter. The assist was part of a six-point performance for Jamieson, who became the first Knighthawk since Shawn Williams to hit the 90-point plateau in a season.
Dan Dawson followed with a rising shot from the left wing side that beat Matt Roik up his right arm for a 5-4 lead. The shorthanded goal was the first of two second-half goals for Dawson, who also added three assists.
His second goal at 9:20 of the fourth helped Rochester regain its one-goal lead. The goal sparked a 4-1 run to end the game for the Knighthawks. During the game’s final 5:40 of the contest, Rochester also got key tallies from Cory Vitarelli (two goals) and Point.
Vitarelli’s first gave Rochester an 8-7 advantage with 2:47 to play as he spun away from his defender and fired a diving shot past Roik. Point followed with a goal just 59 seconds later to make it 9-7 Knighthawks. Vitarelli slammed in a low shot in the final minute to ice Rochester’s seventh home victory of the season.
Rochester opened the game with a 3-2 lead after the first quarter as Johnny Powless (2+4) scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at two. Jamieson, who set up both goals, then scored his first of the night with just 2.1 seconds left to give Rochester its first lead of the contest.
The K-Hawks will end the regular season with two straight games against Buffalo (8-6). The Knighthawks will host the Bandits in the regular-season home finale on Saturday, April 19th at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena.
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