The Rochester Knighthawks selected 10 players at the 2019 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft tonight in Philadelphia, beginning with transition man Ryland Rees second overall.
Taken with the team’s only first round pick of the night, Rees spent the past four seasons at Stony Brook University (NCAA), where he totaled 15 goals and seven assists for 22 points in addition to 164 ground balls in 51 career games for the Seawolves. A two-time team captain, Rees was named the 2019 America East Defensive Player of the Year after recording four points (3+1) and causing 10 turnovers during his senior campaign.
A native of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Rees led the team in ground balls and turnovers in each of his four seasons and was a three-time America East All-Conference First Team selection. He was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2016.
This past summer, the 22-year-old transition player appeared in nine games with the Burnaby Lakers (MSL), recording six points (4+2) as well as four points (3+1) in 11 playoff games. He also made his professional field lacrosse debut with the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse and was named to the 2019 MLL All-Star team.
Internationally, Rees has twice represented Team Canada, most recently winning a silver medal at the 2018 World Field Lacrosse Championship. He also won silver with Team Canada at the 2016 U19 World Field Lacrosse Championship.
WATCH: RYLAND REESE POST-DRAFT INTERVIEW
Rochester stayed with the transition position by opening the second round with Cory Highfield out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell 18th overall. After being held to just 12 points in each of his first three seasons with the River Hawks, Highfield enjoyed a breakout year in 2019 when he erupted for a career-high 38 points on 18 goals and 20 assists. He also added 14 ground balls in 14 games before closing out his collegiate career with 80 points (39+41) in 56 games. As a freshman in 2015, the Georgetown, Ontario, native was credited with scoring the first goal in UMass-Lowell’s DI history and was named to the America East All-Rookie Team.
Highfield also appeared in 17 combined contests with the Oakville Rock this past summer, collecting 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points. In 2017, he helped the Six Nations Arrows capture the Minto Cup.
The Knighthawks selected defenseman Dustyn Pratt with their second pick of the second round. A native of Orangeville, Ontario, Pratt spent parts of the last four seasons with his hometown Orangeville Northmen, recording 20 points (5+15) in 71 games while also adding nine points (1+8) in 47 playoff contests. He helped Orangeville to the Minto Cup this past summer and also won back-to-back Founders’s Cup with the Junior “B” Northmen in 2016 and 2017.
Rochester began the third round by selecting defenseman Thomas Whitty and forward Matt Vangalen at 35th and 37th overall, respectively. Whitty is coming off his fourth season with the St. Catharines Athletics in 2019, posting career-highs in assists (10) and points (11) while appearing in all 20 games. In 74 career games with St. Catharines, the 6-foot, 150-pound defenseman has amassed 26 points (5+21), including a career-best four goals during the 2017 season.
Vangalen recently completed his collegiate career at the University of Detroit Mercy as one of the most decorated players in program history. He started all 15 games at attack for the Titans in 2019, scoring 19 goals while breaking his own school records with 36 assists and 55 points to become the first player in UDM history to be named the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year. Vangalen led the MAAC and was 13th in nation with 2.40 assists-per-game and was also third in the conference and 51st overall with 3.67 points-per-game.
For his efforts, the 6-foot, 200-pound Orangeville, Ontario, native was named a 2019 All-MAAC First Team selection and a USILA/Warrior and New Balance Division I Scholar All-American. He was also two-time MAAC All-Academic Team selection.
WATCH: CORY HIGHFIELD POST-DRAFT INTERVIEW
The Knighthawks selected defenseman Sean Darroch with their first of back-to-back picks to close out the third round. Darroch, the third defenseman chosen by Rochester, recently completed his collegiate career at Lindenwood University, where he recorded 122 points (80+42) and 93 ground balls in 59 career games for the Lions. As a senior in 2019, Darroch finished with 33 points, including a career-best 28 goals. During his freshman season, he led the team with 18 assists and ranked second with 36 points, earning Rookie of the Year honors as well as a selection on the ECAC All-Rookie Team.
A native of Oshawa, Ontario, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman is also a two-time silver medalist for Ontario men’s lacrosse.
Rochester then immediately opened the fourth round by selecting fellow defenseman Tyler Biles, who is currently in his second stint with the Brampton Excelsiors. During the 2019 season, Biles set career-highs in goals (1), assists (7) and points (8) while also adding one assist in eight playoff appearances for Brampton. Since 2015, he has appeared in 78 combined Junior “A” games with Brampton and Halton Hills, recording one goal and 16 assists for 17 points.
Later in the fourth round, the Knighthawks selected forward and local product Bradley Voigt with their 62nd overall pick. Voigt recently completed his senior year at Syracuse University, where he started all 14 games this past season on attack and led the Orange with 35 goals and 44 points during a breakout year for the Penn Yann native.
WATCH: SEAN DARROCH POST-DRAFT INTERVIEW
Before joining SU, the 6-foot, 202-pound forward was a five-year letter winner for Penn Yann high school, whom he led to four straight sectional championships. As a senior in 2014, he set the single-season school record with 125 points on 73 goals and 52 assists before finishing his high school career as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 416 points (252+164). His 252 goals are also the most in school history. For his efforts, he was named an Under Armour All-American, a NILCA First Team All-American and USLacrosse All-American. Additionally, he was named the 2014 All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year, a First Team All-Section selection in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the Brine National High School All-American in 2012.
Rochester used its fifth-round pick to select high-scoring forward Carter Badour from the College of Saint Rose. Badour, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, started all 14 games at attack during a record-setting season in 2019 which saw him set the single-season program record with 61 points – matching his own school record of 44 goals – while also becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer. He finished his career at Saint Rose with a record 146 points, including 112 goals, the most ever by a Golden Knight. He left Saint Rose as the only player to record a pair of 50-point seasons and remains the first and only Golden Knight lacrosse player to score 40 or more goals in two different campaigns. He ranked 13th in the nation and third in the Northeast-10 Conference with 3.14 goals-per-game and was sixth in the league with 4.36 points-per-game. Additionally, he placed sixth in the NE-10 with 44 goals and 10th overall with 61 points, earning him a selection to the All-Northeast-10 Conference Third Team. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward was also a two-time team captain in each of his last two seasons.
WATCH: DAN CAREY POST-DRAFT INTERVIEW
With their final pick of the night, the Knighthawks selected forward Alec Simons. A 21-year-old native from Etobicoke, Ontario, Simons is on the heels of his second 30-point season with the Mimico Mountaineers in 2019. In his Junior “A” career, he has recorded 176 points (66+110) over 92 career games with Mimico and Mississauga Tomahawks while also collecting 36 points (15+21) in 24 career playoff appearances for the Mountaineers.
A new era of Knighthawks lacrosse begins on Saturday, Nov. 30 when Rochester opens its inaugural NLL season against the Georgia Swarm at The Blue Cross Arena. New Season Ticket Memberships for the 2019-20 season start as low as just $16 per seat, with Loyalty Member pricing beginning at just $15 depending on seat location. For more information, visit www.rochesterknighthawks.com/season-tickets or call 585-454-5335 and speak with a Knighthawks sales representative