ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It is a big weekend for Rochester sports with a playoff doubleheader on the docket.
The Amerks face game five in Syracuse Saturday night. However, that’s nothing out of the ordinary for them. But the Knighthawks, it’s their first playoff game since they came back as an expansion franchise.
Times were tough in their first two years back in the National Lacrosse League. The Knighthawks were 2-10 in 2020 and held a 4-14 record a season ago.
But a return to glory for the Knighthawks has them back in the playoffs and ready to take on their rivals from Buffalo Saturday night. While those first few years were very difficult, it’s making their rebirth even that much more exciting.
“Losing is not okay, it hasn’t been fun,” said Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey. “But at the same time we had to go through a process and know that in order for us to have sustained success we needed to be patient.”
Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen said there wasn’t a single person outside of their organization who thought they would be in the postseason.
“It’s a big test,” said Hasen. “It’s a big step for us heading into the playoffs. You look at the East there are a heck of a lot more teams that expected to be in our position. So we’re going to take it and put our best foot forward.”
The Knighthawks will face the top-seeded Bandits at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Saturday night. “Banditland” is often considered the toughest place in the NLL to play. Few players on the team have playoff pedigree, but Hasen is having the team embrace their inexperience.
“I think our messaging this week has been first and foremost to enjoy it. I don’t think there are many guys here who have been in this kind of atmosphere,” said Hasen. “This will be their first test and their first time. We want to take it in and enjoy it. And the biggest thing here for us is that we’re not expected to be here. It’s going to start from that opening faceoff and that loose ball. Those are the ones we’ve got to worry about and add them up and see at the end of the game how they stack up.”
The winner-take-all game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. You can watch it on ESPNU.