March 31, 2010 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
(Rochester, NY)... The Rochester Knighthawks announced their second Hall of Fame Class today and it includes three local sport legends. The Class of 2010 features past General Manager Jody Gage and former players Paul Gait and Randy Mearns.
"It's an honor to be put into a Hall of Fame at any point (in your career), especially when it involves a program you love," said Gait.
Gait enters the Hall of Fame because he was the face of the franchise when the team debuted in 1995 and led the Knighthawks to two finals in three seasons. In 1997 he guided the team to the Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship and earned the team's MVP award.
"It was pretty special after coming so close the previous two years," he said. "We lost in overtime to Philadelphia and then lost in the first round the next season. It made it that much sweeter winning in '97."
The Syracuse University product completed his Knighthawks career with 87 goals and 58 assists in just 27 games. Additionally, he was one of the 10 players named to the Knighthawks 10th Anniversary team. Gait is already a member of the NLL Hall of Fame, getting inducted in 2006. He had an unprecedented 13-year playing career that began in 1991 and ended in 2005. He won titles in 1991 (Detroit), 1994 (Philadelphia) and 1997 (Rochester) and was named the league's MVP in 2002. Further, he was an eight-time First Team All-Pro and a three-time Second Team All-Pro. Gait led the league in goals in four seasons (1991, 1992, 1994 and 2002).
In 2009, Gait returned to the organization as the team's head coach. Last season, he guided Rochester to a 7-9 record in 2009 and a berth in the East Division Semifinals, despite playing without stars John Grant Jr. and Scott Evans. Gait was named the fifth head coach in franchise history on December 26, 2008.
Mearns joins his former Rochester teammate in the Hall of Fame. Mearns played seven seasons in Rochester (1995-01) and still stands as the longest-tenured captain in team history (six seasons). The forward recorded 45 goals and 125 assists in 72 games and played in three championship games with the Knighthawks. He was a key member of the 1997 championship team. In 1998, he was awarded the team's Seventh Man Award. Mearns played nine seasons of professional lacrosse and collected 214 points (62+152) in 95 games. He won his first title with Buffalo in 1993.
"I am very humbled by my selection into the Rochester Knighthawk Hall of Fame. What a tremendous honor it is to be inducted with Jody and Paul and to join the great class of 2009. To be recognized by the organization, considering all the great players that have worn a Knighthawk jersey, is just incredible," he said. "I really am taken aback. I cherish the great memories I have of my teammates, coaches, support staff and, without a doubt, the Knighthawk fans. This award will stay with me throughout my lifetime and I truly am speechless. Words can't describe how I feel."
Gage enters the Hall of Fame as the only person to now grace the Hall of Fames for two Rochester professional sports teams: the Knighthawks and the Rochester Americans. Gage served as the general manager for 12 seasons and built the Knighthawks into a lacrosse dynasty (1997-2008). The K-Hawks advanced to five championship games and won two titles during his tenure. In 2007, he assembled a team that won a league record 17 games and suffered only two losses. Rochester also won 15 straight games, which is the second most in NLL history, en route to the championship. Rochester won 12 straight games to close the regular season and tied for the best single-season record by any team since the NLL switched to the 16-game schedule.
He had a hand in drafting future superstars John Grant, Casey Powell, Curt Malawsky, Josh Sanderson and Colin Doyle. He also was a masterful GM when it came to trades, acquiring such notable players as Mike Accursi, Chris Schiller, Steve Toll and Shawn Williams during his tenure.
Gage was inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame in 1999 and is only one of three players to have his number retired. He stands as the Amerks' all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points. He also holds numerous team and American Hockey League records. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2006. After retiring from hockey, he moved into the front office where he still works for the Amerks as the Director of Player Personnel. He was the team's general manager from 1996 to 2009 and was the assistant GM when the Amerks won their sixth Calder Cup in 1996.
"I was quite surprised to hear the news from Curt, but it is truly a great honor to be inducted into a prestigious club with such a rich tradition and includes some of the team's past greats," he said. "I am going in with two of the most well-respected lacrosse people in 'Mearnsi' and Paul Gait, who is arguably one of the best players ever to play the game."
Gage, Gait and Mearns join Paul Day, Duane Jacobs and Tim Soudan as members of the Knighthawks Hall of Fame.