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Knighthawks Face Tough Decisions on Roster Spots

December 20, 2011 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Rochester Knighthawks News Release

(Rochester, December 20)... In the next two days, the Rochester Knighthawks will review DVDs, stats and scouting reports to determine the 26 players that will represent the team this season. For Head Coach Mike Hasen, the decisions are tough this preseason with such a young, talented crop of players in camp.

"It will be very difficult because every player brought everything we asked for and more," said Hasen. "They have made it really tough on us."

Rochester currently has 28 players on its roster to choose from to complete its 23-man active roster and three-man practice squad. The deadline for league roster submission is noon on Thursday, December 22nd. Hasen gave a hint at what he expects from the practice players and the final one or two players that make the active roster.

"They have got to be ready to play. We don't have a lot of bodies," said the 2011 NLL Coach of the Year. "They will be guys that are close to being full-time players that have the right attitudes."

In the preseason, the Knighthawks scored victories over the Philadelphia Wings and the Minnesota Swarm. The 19-15 win over Minnesota Saturday at a packed Blue Cross Arena gave veterans like Mike Accursi flashbacks to the 2007 championship season.

"It felt awesome. It makes me remember the 2007 year when we were packing this place every night. It's good to see. I hope that it continues and Rochester falls in love with the Knighthawks again."

The 15-year pro notched three goals in preseason action as the Knighthawks netted 30 goals in two games. Cody "Jammer" Jamieson led the way with eight goals and four assists. He saved his most impressive effort for the home crowd as he collected six goals and three assists in just one half of play. The second-year pro will be one of the focal points of the Knighthawks offense after the departure of Shawn Williams and Shawn Evans.

"He will be a big part of it, but we are all about team," said Hasen. "We don't want opponents to be able to focus on one player. We want them to worry about the total team."

The Knighthawks will count on a balanced attack as displayed Saturday with 10 different players contributing to the 19-goal effort. In the two games, the Knighthawks had six players with five-plus points. Besides Jamieson, they included fifth overall pick Johnny Powless with eight points, while Stephen Keogh, Joe Walters and Jordan Hall all recorded six points. Brad Self, in his return to the NLL, scored three goals and added two assists in his only preseason game. Self last played in the NLL in 2008 before going to Germany full-time to pursue his professional hockey career.

Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, VP of Player Personnel Jody Gage and Assistant GM Landon Miller made sure to acquire his rights as part of the trade to get Matt Vinc last year. Hasen now has the benefit of the transition man with scoring touch.

"He brings another element to the game. The game has changed where you need a player that can play tough defense and bury it on offense," he said.

In goal, Matt Vinc saw the majority of the work playing nearly six quarters and recording 42 saves. Backup Jake Henhawk played the final quarter of the Minnesota game and saw some action against the Wings. Vinc and Henhawk will have a pressure defense in front of them this season, which Hasen has used successfully in Brampton in Major Series Lacrosse. Mike Kirk, Tyler Burton and Dylan Evans are accustomed to the defense and were members of the 2011 Mann Cup Championship team.

"The defense is still shaping up, but we are a lot further ahead on defense because of 'Kirky,'" said Hasen. "He has helped shorten the learning curve. We need to add some different elements, but we will do that during the season."

Next up for the team is a practice at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena on Tuesday, December 27th. It will be the first time the 2012 team comes together to prepare for the season opener. Hasen will have a message for the Knighthawks when they arrive at practice.

"I will congratulate them for a job well done so far," he said. "We need to play 19 games this year to reach our goal so we have to get right back at it."

The Knighthawks will open their 18th season at the Wells Fargo Center against the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, January 14th at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsradio 950 ESPN and www.sportsradio950espn.com.

The Knighthawks will open the home portion of their regular season schedule on Saturday, January 21st against the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena. The Knighthawks are holding their Millionth Fan Promotion, which includes a trip for two to Las Vegas (hotel, airfare and $2,000 cash). Knighthawks individual tickets will go on sale at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 21st at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, and at The Blue Cross Arena Box Office or by calling 1-800-745-3000.


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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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