The Rochester Knighthawks have been waiting five years to host a playoff game, and they did not disappoint when they finally got their chance. The Knighthawks defeated the Philadelphia Wings 14-13 in a thrilling game Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. With the win, Rochester moves on to next weekend's Eastern Division Final where they will face the winner of the other semifinal Saturday night between the Toronto Rock and the Buffalo Bandits.
Rochester's balanced offensive attack was led by six-point games from Craig Point (3+3) Cody Jamieson (2+4) and Joe Walters (2+4). Matt Vinc also had a stellar game in goal for the Knighthawks with 37 saves, including several crucial stops in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia was mounting a rally.
For the Wings, Kevin Crowley (4+3), Dan Dawson (1+5) and Brendan Mundorf (0+5) all had solid offensive games. Philadelphia started the scoring when Crowley connected just over two minutes into the game. The game then went scoreless for almost eight minutes before Point broke the drought and brought Rochester even at 1-1. Just seconds later, Ned Crotty was able to push the Wings back ahead, scoring from in close. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Cody Jamieson scored on a diving shot that he tucked by Philadelphia goalkeeper Brandon Miller. However, the Wings again answered quickly and reclaimed the lead off the stick of Brodie Merrill. Philadelphia led 3-2 after one period of play.
In the second, the Wings were able to extend their lead to two goals behind Mike Hominuck's early goal. Rochester then scored three straight goals to take its first lead of the game at 5-4. Defenders Pat McCready and Tyler Burton scored in transition for the Knighthawks, before Stephen Keogh snuck one by Miller to put Rochester back in front. Philadelphia would draw even when Drew Westervelt scored with 28 seconds left in the half, but Point answered with a late goal of his own to send Rochester to the locker room with a 6-5 halftime lead.
The Knighthawks broke the game open in the third period, outscoring Philadelphia 6-1 while scoring five in a row to start the half. Johnny Powless started the Rochester rally in the opening minutes giving the Knighthawks a 7-5 lead. Mike Accursi and Jamieson then extended the lead further, before back-to-back goals by Walters gave Rochester an 11-5 lead. Crowley was finally able to break through for the Wings with 3:40 reaming in the third, but his goal was matched by Keogh in the closing minutes and Rochester led 12-6 after three.
In the final period, Philadelphia amped up its game and mounted a comeback with its season on the brink. Drew Westervelt got things started with a power-play goal in the early going. After Point pushed the Rochester lead back to six at 13-7, Philadelphia went on a 6-1 run over the final 10:34 and nearly found the game-tying goal in the closing seconds. However, Vinc stood strong in goal for the Knighthawks, making several key saves including one with two seconds to play.
Rochester will now face the winner of the Toronto-Buffalo game, which faces off at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. The Knighthawks advance to the division finals for the first time in five years and extended their home playoff winning streak to three games, dating back to the 2006 season. The Knighthawks now own a 7-2 record in home playoff games, as they defeated Philadelphia for the fourth straight this season.