The Rochester Knighthawks’ 2022-23 campaign will be here before we all know it and the Hasen family has the next few weeks planned out.
For the first time in a long time, newly acquired Knighthawks forward Austin Hasen gets to spend Thanksgiving at home with his family and Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen is excited to get to share the holiday with his son. It’s the time of the year where the family gets to travel a little, kick back with the in-laws and enjoy one another’s company before the season truly kicks off and takes up almost six months out of the year.
“We go up to my in-law’s place, they have a place up by my home, so that’s our Thanksgiving spot,” stated Mike when asked what the plans were for the next couple of weeks. “It’ll be the first time, I think, in five years that Austin’s going be able to join us because he’s finally home from school. So, we go up there with the family and we spend Thanksgiving there with my brother-in-law and father-in-law and have a chance to relax and kick back a little bit.”
Austin added, “Missing out on the Thanksgiving turkey for the last couple of years, it’s been a little tough, but now it’ll be fun.”
Good thing for Austin, he doesn’t have to miss out on many more holidays around the Hasen household thanks to Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey making moves in the first round of the 2022 National Lacrosse League Draft.
In order to acquire the younger Hasen with the 18th overall in the first round, Carey first had to agree to part ways with goaltender Joel Watson and Rochester’s second-round pick in the 2024 NLL Entry Draft, both of which went to the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. In return, the Knighthawks received the 18th pick and subsequently used it to select Austin at 18th overall to conclude their picks in the opening round.
The acquisition came as no surprise to the Knighthawks head coach. He always felt his son was literally born to be here and play at some point in the Rochester.
“In my opinion, he was born to be here and born to have a lacrosse stick in his hands,” started Mike when asked how the father and son dynamic has evolved on the floor over the years. “I used to be hard on him. You know, as a coach, he used to be my example that I would make sure the other guys were aware of because I didn’t want him to ever seem to be a favorite. So, growing up, he maybe took it a little bit more than he should have, but I think there was a stage when he probably came 13 or 14 years old where the reins were off, and I let him be a player as opposed to my kid.”
This past spring, Hasen completed his senior season at Belmont Abbey College posting career-highs with 41 goals, 17 assists 58 and points while starting all 15 games. He was named the 2022 Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Crusaders in scoring in addition to recording 81.5 percent of his shots on goal. He also had seven caused turnovers and 14 groundballs, earning him a spot in the 2022 USILA Senior All-Star Game.
In 51 career games with the Crusaders, Hasen totaled 154 points on 113 goals and 41 assists while also recording 45 groundball recoveries.
A native of Brampton, Ontario, Hasen just completed his first season with the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, having totaled 23 points on 11 goals and 12 assists in 12 regular season games. The Lakers went on to win their fourth straight Mann Cup in a Game 7 winner-take-all matchup against the Langley Thunder. Austin went on to appear in five games throughout the championship series, tallying four goals and four assists for eight points.
The best part of this Peterborough experience for Austin, though? The young forward had the chance to play with a ton of players who are on the current Knighthawks roster while also playing under his father.
Prior to his time in the MSL, Austin played five seasons of Junior ‘A’ ball with his hometown Brampton Excelsiors, recording 207 points on 105 goals and 102 assists over 69 career games as well as 66 points (28+38) in 30 playoff appearances. Austin was named an OLA Junior ‘A’ Second Team All-Star selection following the 2019 season.
And once again, who coached him during those days with the Excelsiors? Dad.
So, at this point you’ve probably figured that Austin has played for his dad pretty much his entire life, making the difficult conversations about development and skillset that much easier to process and put towards his overall end goal. Doing whatever it takes to get to the pros and staying there.
“Well, you never like getting in the car after a game and getting yelled at,” Austin joked when asked how those hard conversations with his dad made him a better player over the course of his career. “I think all those conversations lead to you wanting to do something better. I think we got to the point where probably last year we started talking more and it’s not so much yelling after a game, it’s more of a conversation.”
Austin then continued with, “It kind of grew my game and it not only allowed me to talk to him and see what he was seeing, it gave me a voice as well. So, it was a good way to grow up and continue growing up now.”
From the time Austin was born he’s had the privilege of learning from one of the best that the NLL has ever seen in a player and a coach. So, at this point, Austin is used to seeing his dad behind the bench and he’s used to the pressure that comes from being a part of an iconic lacrosse family whose name holds status in a league like the NLL.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say there was pressure coming down from him on me playing the game. He kind of just allowed me to do what I loved, and I love lacrosse. I would say there’s a little bit of pressure when you’re following in line with your dad’s name.”
Especially a name that’s almost synonymous with Rochester lacrosse at this point.
The older Hasen is certainly no stranger to the Flower City, having served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise from 2011 to 2019 before taking over the expansion-era Knighthawks prior to the team’s inaugural 2019-20 campaign. In nine seasons behind the bench, Hasen guided the former Rochester franchise to an 81-75 regular season record while leading the team to six playoff appearances. The Knighthawks also finished among the top two teams in the East Division six different times under Hasen, including each of the first five seasons (2011-2015).
His most successful run at the helm of the Knighthawks came from 2012-14 when he made National Lacrosse League history by leading Rochester to an unprecedented three straight Champion’s Cups. Hasen remains the only NLL bench boss to accomplish the feat.
In 2014, he guided Rochester to the top of the East Division with a 14-4 record, which was the second-best mark in the NLL. The Knighthawks went 12-1 within the East Division and posted an NLL-best 8-1 record at home. Hasen capped off the season by defeating the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL Championship Series.
During the 2013 season, the Toronto, Ontario, native became the first-ever Rochester coach to lead his team to consecutive titles, following an 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth in the Champion’s Cup Finals. In 2012, he guided Rochester to its first NLL Championship since the 2007 season.
In 2011, Hasen made league history with his selection as the NLL Coach of the Year, becoming the first rookie head coach to win the Les Bartley Award. That season, the Knighthawks returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009 campaign. The team ended the regular season on a four-game road winning streak and finished in a three-way tie for first in the East Division at 10-6.
Now, Austin is once again faced with the opportunity of taking on a brand-new league with his dad by his side and he’s ready to soak every ounce of the experience up.
“Obviously, just to get on the floor,” commented Austin when asked what he’s most excited about when getting to navigate training camp with his dad at Segar & Sciortino Field. “It’s going to be fun, and I’ll be taking it all in. I know that first training camp is going to be just one of those things that you just have to soak it all in. You’re on a floor with a bunch of great guys and great coaching staff, so for me that’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to is just learning and soaking it all in.”
The Knighthawks set out on their third season in the NLL on Saturday, Dec. 3 on the road against the Georgia Swarm before returning home to host the Toronto Rock on Opening Knight on Saturday, Dec. 10. Prior to the season kicking off in early December, training camp begins at the end of October and coach Hasen is ready to take a step back and see if his son put in the work to make the Knighthawks active roster going into the 2022-23 campaign.
“I’ve been on him his entire life about certain aspects of his game that he’s going to need to improve on to make sure he’s going to have an opportunity, or he has an opportunity, to make the most of this opportunity, and we’ll see, right?,” commented Mike when asked how Austin’s experience in the NLL is going to be unlike any other lacrosse he’s faced in his life. “It’s one thing being his dad and I got to look at him every day and see him in the house and know what he’s doing, and I know what he’s not doing, but it’s on him. So, all I can do now is offer advice and come the end of the month, if he took the advice or not, he’ll show the other coaches and his teammates what he’s done and go from there again.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the older Hasen has never been easy on his son. This new adventure that the Hasens are about to embark on with one another goes to show just how serious Mike truly takes coaching Austin at this next level.
Coach Hasen finished with, “He’s my kid, but he has his own name and he’s got to make his own path. So, it’s on him from here forward and again, as a dad, I hope he’s listening and, as a coach, he better show up.”