“It’s an expansion team, but not really,” Marechek said of Rochester. “They have six former Detroit Turbos and maybe six Canadian Mann Cup winners. There’s a lot of talent on that team.”
The Wings, who received their championship rings in a pregame ceremony, kept putting distance between themselves and the Knighthawks, only to see the lead whittled down. At one point, the Wings opened a 10-6 gap, and they held three-goal leads on five other occasions, but Rochester never stopped coming. The Knighthawks finally drew within 18-17 on Benedict’s score with 29.1 seconds remaining, but never got another shot on goal.
“From a fan’s standpoint, it was one of those exciting, back-and-forth games,” Resch said. “But for me and the players, it was very difficult. Every time we’d get a little lead, they came right back.”
Gary Gait, who said he had an off night despite two goals and two assists, achieved a personal milestone when he scored his 200th career MILL point on a remarkable, between-the-legs goal with 14.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter. That erased a 14-13 Knighthawks lead, and the Wings went ahead to stay less than a minute into the final period when Finneran got one of his five assists in setting up a goal by Miller.
“Sometimes you get lucky,” Gary Gait said. “Sometimes when your shot is off, the best thing to do is to just throw it at the net.”