December 13, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks
The 2012 World Champion Rochester Knighthawks will continue their preseason on Saturday, December 15th in a showdown against the Toronto Rock at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the home of the Montreal Canadiens. Fans can catch the game on Sportsradio 950 ESPN and online at www.sportsradio950.com.
The Knighthawks are coming off a big win against the Minnesota Swarm, after defeating them 11-10 in a penalty shot victory at The Blue Cross Arena on December 8th. Toronto opened their preseason against the Edmonton Rush and suffered a 12-8 loss the same day.
Knighthawks forward Joe Walters, who had three assists against the Swarm, commented on what the team is looking to do against the Rock in Montreal on Saturday stating, " Overall, I think our exhibition game against Minnesota was positive. Everyone is battling to make the final roster, so I expect guys to continue playing with high intensity. Our goal is to improve each time we are together whether that is practice, shoot around, or the actual game. For first year players, last weekend's game gave them a taste of what the NLL is all about. We can expect a tough game in Montreal against an always-strong Toronto Rock team."
Rochester made four player moves prior to Saturday's game, releasing Ben VanEvery, Mike Matteo, Josh Kacprzak and Chris Courtney.
The game in Montreal will feature the last two Champion's Cup winners in Rochester and Toronto, the Rock having won the 2011 NLL Championship. The Knighthawks stunned the Toronto Rock last season in the 2012 East Division Final to advance to play in the Championship Game. This rematch means there will no doubt be tension in the air at the Bell Centre on Saturday. The Knighthawks defeated the Rock in divisional finals, with their first playoff victory against the team in four years, and went on to win the 2012 NLL Champion's Cup.
Both teams have high-caliber rosters, and although it is just a preseason game, pride is on the line. Walters commented on the tension between the two teams stating, "Last season we finally beat Toronto in the playoffs, something we hadn't done in a while, so we finally got that monkey off our back. They are always a tough team to play, and with them being in our division, I am sure they will want to set the tone for this upcoming season on Saturday."
The Knighthawks and the Rock are bringing lacrosse back to Montreal for the first time in a decade. The last professional lacrosse game played at the Bell Centre was during the 2002 season by the Montreal Express. The goal of playing this exhibition game is to hopefully re-energize the city's interest in the game of box lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League.
Walters commented on the efforts of the Knighthawks and the Rock to bring lacrosse back to Montreal stating, " It should be a great atmosphere. I hope that our game this weekend sparks new interest in lacrosse for the city of Montreal, and with the NHL on strike it sets up perfectly for a big crowd coming to check out NLL action."
The Knighthawks are led by 2012 Championship Game MVP Cody Jamieson, and two-time NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc. Rochester also boasts second-year stars in 2012 All-Rookie Team members Stephen Keogh and Johnny Powless. The 19-year-old Powless hit the 50-point plateau and earned the NLL Sportsmanship Award. Keogh finished third on the team with 58 points and third among rookie point producers. Rochester concluded the 2012 campaign with wins in five of its last six games. The Knighthawks rallied from a 5-1 halftime deficit to defeat the Edmonton Rush 9-6 in the NLL Finals.
Rochester enters their second preseason game with some new additions that the Toronto Rock will certainly have to get used to playing against, most notably Joel McCready, Tom Montour and Ian Llord. McCready will start in his fourth season with the Knighthawks. Llord comes to Rochester after spending five of his six seasons in the NLL with the Knighthawks' thruway rivals, the Buffalo Bandits. Montour enters his 11th season in the NLL in 2012 after spending the last four seasons in Buffalo. Originally drafted by the Toronto Rock in 2002, the transition man has played for four teams. The 30-year-old won a Champion's Cup in 2003 with Toronto.
Rochester will begin its title defense on the road to open the 2013 season. The World Champions will open their 19th season against the Washington Stealth at 10:00 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, January 5th. The Knighthawks will play their home opener on Saturday, January 19th against the rival Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. Season tickets are currently on sale at the Knighthawks Office and can be purchased by calling (585) 454-HAWK (4295).