NLL: Thunderbirds stop two-game slide in 17-7 rout of first-place Rochester

NLL: Thunderbirds stop two-game slide in 17-7 rout of first-place Rochester


The Halifax Thunderbirds needed a statement win to get their season back on track.

They got their wish on Friday night by giving the National Lacrosse League’s top team – the Rochester Knighthawks – a 17-7 drubbing at the Scotiabank Centre, ending their two-game slide.

“F—-n right, we needed that,” said Thunderbirds forward Austin Shanks, who led all scorers with eight points (three goals, five assists).

“We’ve had our struggles in the last few games but we’ve worked hard. We came out tonight with a nice reset. It didn’t matter if it was the No. 1 team or the team in last place, we would play our game and do what we had to do. As a result, we made a big profit.”

Is it too early in week 9 to call @SportsCenter???

Petterson hits Benesch with an electric feed to make it 4-2 Thunderbirds #SCtop10

— NLL (@NLL) January 27, 2023

Chris Boushy and rookie Wake:Riat BowHunter also scored hat tricks for the Thunderbirds (4-3) that not only gave the Knighthawks (6-1) their first loss of the season, but also sent Rochester to a season-low in goals scored.

Halifax, who had a bye last week, wanted two weeks out of the weekend after a weekend doubleheader — an 11-10 loss in overtime at home to the Albany FireWolves and a 17-8 drubbing on the road at the Toronto Rock game come out before.

Back in the Scotiabank Center friendlies, Halifax went on a 7-0 run that extended through the first two quarters to take an 8-2 lead and were 8-4 at the break.

The Thunderbirds held a 9-6 lead into the fourth quarter and scored six goals in a 5:43 span to put the game out of reach.

Eleven different players scored for Halifax and Warren Hill was sensational in goal, repelling 43 Rochester shots, including a breakaway stop on former Thunderbird Brad Gillies in the third quarter.

Halifax Thunderbirds forward Chris Boushy shoots at Rochester Knighthawks goaltender Rylan Hartley during the second quarter of Friday’s National Lacrosse League game at the Scotiabank Center. – RYAN TAPLIN / THE CHRONICLES HERALD

Knighthawks goalie Rylan Hartley was put out of play after Bushey’s second goal at 10:27 of the fourth quarter. As the goaltender passed the Halifax bench, something distracted him and he went right behind the Thunderbirds’ Johnny Pearson, who was sitting on the bench. Officials eventually pulled Hartley out of the melee and rated him a five-minute major and knocked him out of the game.

Later in the quarter, Pearson got into a spirited battle with Rochester’s Tyler Biles after former Knighthawks top scorer Connor Fields was equalized with a heavy check.

Shanks said the Thunderbirds lacked temperament in their previous games.

“Coach called us out,” Shanks said. “We start hot and then just lose ourselves.

“But tonight our team was solid all over the floor. We have eight (offensive) guys who can score anytime and 9-10 D men who are tough strong defenders and Warren is the backbone in goal. From front to back, everyone has contributed.”

Rochester Knighthawks goaltender Rylan Hartley shoves Halifax Thunderbirds’ Jake Withers during Friday’s NLL game in Halifax. – RYAN TAPLIN / THE CHRONICLES HERALD

That included a few rookies in the lineup.

With the hat trick, BowHunter – Halifax’s first-round pick in the 2022 NLL draft – doubled his offensive effort to six goals. Defenseman Max Wilson, the Thunderbirds’ top pick in the ’21 draft, buried a penalty attempt with 30 seconds remaining for his first professional goal.

“Bo had a hat trick and Max had energy all game,” Shanks said. “When he scored a goal at the end of the game it was well deserved because he worked so hard. Our young people are doing their thing and have stepped up for us.”

👉 Your first NLL goal
👉 home
👉 At a penalty shootout

You can’t write a screenplay much better than that! Welcome to the NLL, @WilsonMax_

— NLL (@NLL) January 28, 2023

The Thunderbirds will next host the Calgary Roughnecks on February 4th at the Scotiabank Centre.

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