Henhawk Backstops Saints' Playoff RunJuly 23, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) Rochester Knighthawks
Two weeks after winning the Cup, Henhawk returned to the Saints in an impressive fashion. In his first two starts this season, he posted a 5.00 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage. He allowed just 10 goals on 89 shots, as he collected 36 saves versus Brooklin and 43 saves in the victory over Sarnia. He was awarded the team Defensive Player of the Week honors on June 4 th for the two-game performance. Henhawk finished the regular season with a 4-3 record and a 7.86 goals-against average.
Last season, he guided the Saints to an upset series win over the four-time defending champion Owen Sound Woodsmen in the 2011 Ontario Senior "B" Finals. The Six Nations product then backstopped St. Catharines to a bronze medal in the Presidents' Cup, earned First Team All-Star honors and won the Travis Solomon Outstanding Goaltender Award. A Senior "B" title would be just as meaningful this season with Owen Sound again being the team to beat.
"It would be special. Owen Sound has stocked up on offensive players, but we are right there with them," said Henhawk. "We have to outwork them."
Working hard comes easy to Henhawk, who is married with four children, and runs several businesses in Six Nations. He jokingly said "when he is not playing lacrosse, he is working." The dedicated father and businessman has played in goal since he was eight years old. He cited that his 6-0, 285-pound frame was perfect for cutting down angles and blocking the ball. When asked about the mindset it takes to stop 100-mph shots, he laughed and said he had never thought about it before.
"I don't let the pain bother me," said Henhawk. "I guess I like pain."
On the floor, the 31-year-old has quietly assembled an impressive career, winning a Founder's Cup while playing in over 100 junior games and 50-plus senior games. He has starred on the international stage as well, playing for Team USA twice in the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. He has played in four NLL seasons and in November returned to Rochester, where he last played in 2010.
This season, "Jaker" was ready to help the retooled Knighthawks take a shot at their third NLL Championship. With Matt Vinc as the starter, Henhawk saw action in four games this season and registered a career-best 11.18 goals-against average. His real value, however, was noticeable at games and practices. Not only did he provide a solid option for Coach Hasen, but he gave his teammates extra shooting time. Henhawk, in his third season with the team, was one of the first players on the floor and one of the last to leave.
In May, he was rewarded for taking hundreds of shots by earning his first professional lacrosse championship. It was his first trip to the NLL Finals since the 2002 season when he was a member of the Albany Attack.
"It was extra special," said Henhawk. "The last time I wasn't even on the bench because I was a third-stringer for Albany when Toronto beat them. (This season) it was an awesome feeling."
Henhawk has taken steps to build on last season's NLL success by playing for two teams. He has not only played goal in St. Catharines, but also for the defending Mann Cup Champion Brampton Excelsiors. Again, his numbers were very impressive, recording a 6.81 goals-against average for the Excels.
"You always want to take shots because it helps you stay in game shape," said Henhawk. "I think it will help me a lot for next season."
Henhawk's playoff run continues Friday as he tries to lead the Saints back into the Senior "B" Finals. Game Two ended in a 10-10 tie, with details of finishing the game still to come. St. Catharines will host Brooklin at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. The winner of the series will play the winner of the Oakville-Owen Sound semifinal.
National Lacrosse League Stories from July 23, 2012
- Henhawk Backstops Saints' Playoff Run - Rochester Knighthawks
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