October 30, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
The Rochester Knighthawks secured two major pieces of their back-to-back Championship teams today with the re-signing of goalie Matt Vinc and Team Captain Sid Smith to long-term deals. Head Coach Mike Hasen now has two of the anchors of his defense in place with Vinc inking a five-year contract, which is pending league approval, and Smith agreeing to a seven-year deal.
"We have always prided ourselves on the way we play defense. Having two big pieces back is going to be a key for us moving forward for years to come," said Hasen.
"I am pretty excited. When long-term contracts are signed, each group has to be comfortable with what each group brings to the table. I love Curt's vision. It has brought me two championships and I want to continue to be a part of it," said Vinc about playing for Owner and General Manager Curt Styres. "I can't really see myself playing for any other team. I am a Knighthawk through and through."
Since being acquired in a blockbuster deal with Colorado in 2010, "Vno" has led Rochester to three straight NLL Playoff berths and to two straight Champion's Cups. In 2013, Vinc broke Rob Blasdell's single-season saves record (662) en route to a league-record third Goaltender of the Year Award (2010, 2011 and 2013). Vinc also joined Dallas Eliuk as the only other goalie to lead the NLL in saves four times. The St. Catharines, Ontario native was tops in the league with an .803 save percentage and a 10.17 goals-against average, as well. Vinc was honored as an NLL All-Pro for the fourth time in his career and named the Knighthawks' MVP for the second time. Vinc enters his fourth season in Rochester with the second most saves in team history (1,830).
"I couldn't have written a better script. The last two years have been the best lacrosse years of my life," he said. "Three years go by fast when you're having fun."
"Knowing 'Vno' is going to give us an opportunity to compete and win for the next five years is a very good feeling. He constantly pushes himself to be better on the floor with his off the floor diligence; his level of fitness and the way he studies the game is second to none, which pushes every single one of us to make sure we are better," added Hasen. "It is a great feeling that 'Vno' is going to be a part of the Knighthawks family for a long time to come."
In 48 games with Knighthawks, Vinc owns a 25-23 record, a 10.72 goals-against average and a .774 save percentage. In the postseason, he has been nearly unbeatable, collecting a 6-1 record which includes six straight wins. In backstopping Rochester to back-to-back titles, he has maintained a 10.00 goals-against average and an impressive .795 save percentage. Vinc, 31, will crack the league's Top 10 saves list as he has amassed 4,034 career stops in eight seasons. Prior to coming to Rochester, Vinc played for teams in San Jose, New York and Orlando. Yet, the former first round pick admits that he has found a home in Rochester.
"It's easy to play in Rochester for great fans and in front of my family," Vinc said. "I think that's why we've really been successful. Curt focuses on family, and I am thankful to be a part of it."
Smith, 27, is back for his fifth season after winning an NLL title in his first season as the team's captain. In 2013, the former first overall pick was named the Knighthawks' Best Defenseman for the third time in his career. Smith also had a career-best 68 loose balls and was part of a defense that limited opponents to a league-low 165 goals.
"Sid has grown into that leadership role and has accepted and earned the captaincy of this team," said Hasen. "He's a quiet leader that leads by example and sets the bar high for everyone to follow."
With winning his second straight Champion's Cup, he started a trend that continued into the summer of 2013. Smith played in the Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend with the Hamilton Nationals in August and then captured his first Mann Cup with the Six Nations Chiefs in September.
Winning championships has always been the norm for the Six Nations standout, which included a streak of capturing at least one championship per season from 2006 to 2009. The streak began in 2006 when he helped Onondaga Community College win the NJCAA National Championship. In 2007, he captained the Six Nations Arrows to a Minto Cup title. The next two seasons, Smith was named an All-American at Syracuse University and in the process captured back-to-back NCAA Championships (2008-09). For good measure, he won the MLL Steinfeld Cup with the Toronto Nationals in 2009.
A few weeks later, the Rochester Knighthawks selected him with the first overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft. Since the first day he pulled the No. 79 sweater on, Smith has been a force on the Rochester defense. Over four seasons, he has appeared in 58 games and recorded 214 loose balls. In 2011, he was named a reserve for the 2011 NLL East Division All-Star team. In 2013, he earned the highest distinction with his selection as the team captain.
"I think some guys are natural born winners. And he is one of them," said teammate and longtime friend Cody Jamieson. "He has this calming demeanor that can influence a team. It's not always what he says but how he acts. I think these are key elements why he is such a good captain. His resume speaks for itself."