By Stacey Kilpatrick
BOSTON, MA – The Rochester Knighthawks [7-5] clinched a playoff spot Saturday night at the TD Garden after beating – literally – their East Division rival Boston Blazers [6-8] in a 19-8 game that was more like a Bruins-Canadiens match with all the pounding.
“A couple of scrums,” Boston Blazers head coach Matt Sawyer said.
Actually, a couple is two. There were 14 penalties for fighting and roughing. At one point it was looking like a UFC match, with gloves flying off, jersey’s being ripped up and players laying on top of one another in the straddle position, fists cementing faces.
“[Kyle] Rubisch had a good one with [Jarrett] Davis there; that’s just a lacrosse fight,” Sawyer continued. “Two guys going at it. The second half there I guess we were just trying to show a little fight in ourselves that we weren’t happy with what was going on. But to be honest it was nice to see it when we saw it.”
Well the teams fought with their fists, but their sticks, Rochester held the upper cuts on that end, clearly, and to Rochester coach Mike Hasen’s loving.
“We just want to come out here and play our game …. Tonight we caught [Boston] at a good time where they’re struggling a little bit.”
The Blazers put down a dreadful performance and Sawyer stated the obvious when he said that losing five games in a row sucks.
“It’s tough, and asking me after that performance out there it’s even worse,” Sawyer said. “It’s something that we’re all going to remember for a long time … right now what’s foremost in our mind is that abysmal effort.”
Boston wasn’t catching any breaks and goalie Anthony Cosmo was having difficulty catching the ball, saving 22 of 41 shots.
Rochester’s Sean Williams put the Knighthawks on the board at 10:47 in the first quarter and from there the Knighthawks kept barreling Cosmo.
At the half, Boston was down 9-3, with Rochester goals from Davis, Craig Point and Cory Vitarelli, two by Cody Jamieson and three from Jordan Hall.
Jamie Rooney, Kevin Buchanan and Dan Dawson put the three in for Boston, but the scores didn’t do much; they didn’t instill confidence in the Blazers and the goals certainly didn’t inflict fear in the non-wobbling knees of the Knighthawks.
“First half we had nine goals on the board that we gave up and five times we had that ball in our stick before the ball went in the net. Just terribly sloppy at this point in the season,” Sawyer said.
He admitted to thinking of putting Nick Rose in the game when they were down with 1:00 left in the third.
“I told Rose he was going in.”
Well, why didn’t you put Rose in when you were down six?
“They scored a goal on [Cosmo]. But Cos, being a veteran goalie, he likes a lot of shots so I gave him the opportunity to stay in there,” Sawyer said.
But you’re the coach. You have the say. If you want to win, pull out your goalie whose missing most blocks left, right, straight and upside-down.
“I asked him what he wanted to do in between the third and fourth [quarter] and he’s a proud guy and he likes to work and he wanted to stay in there. If I hadn’t known that it was going to turn into a shooting gallery on the power-play I certainly would have pulled him.”
Sawyer added that, “We look to score early and look to score often and neither is happening right now; not early nor often. So we’ll continue to work at it.”
Maybe the Blazers will end their five-game failure streak when they face Philadelphia next Saturday, April 9, in their final regular season game.
“We’re in a must-win next week against Philadelphia. It’s essentially playing for our playoff lives.”