Winning breeds, well, more winning. Winning can help create a championship culture.
The saying goes something like that, right?
Well, good news for this year’s Rochester Knighthawks roster because several players spent this past summer accomplishing both, winning games and bringing home championships in both Major Series Lacrosse League and Premier Lacrosse League.
Between both championship winning rosters, nine players are signed with the Knighthawks going into the upcoming 2022-23 campaign. Forwards Holden Cattoni, Thomas Hoggarth, Austin Hasen, and Turner Evans, defensemen Paul Dawson and Mitch Ogilvie and transition players Matt Gilray and Thomas Whitty all just won the Mann Cup with the Peterborough Lakers, while transition player Ryland Rees took home the PLL championship title with the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club.
To top it all off, Peterborough is coached by Rochester head coach Mike Hasen. So, the Knighthawks have literally experienced winning from top to the bottom of the organization over this offseason.
“We talk about a winning pedigree, right? That winning culture. Any time you have that experience it’s going to be helpful,” stated Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey how the number of players who just won championships over the summer can help bring that momentum to Rochester this year.
However, every league is different and presents its own challenges. Just because a large portion of the Knighthawks roster just won a championship together, or against one another, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easily translated to their play in the National Lacrosse League.
“The Mann Cup is very tough. It’s a tough championship to win, but it is very different than the National League League and we have different teammates here in Rochester,” said Carey. “I think a big part of that is the work that they put in there and making sure that it moves the organization forward. Using that part of the experience towards helping us win. So, it’s a group effort and it takes everybody to win, and this is a very difficult league. Comparing where we’re at in the lacrosse landscape, the National Lacrosse League has to be considered one of, if not, hardest championship to win.”
Hard would be a good word to describe the Knighthawks first two seasons as an expansion franchise.
Over the last two campaigns in the NLL, Rochester has gone just 6-24. Last year, the team wasn’t lacking defensively, their defense actually kept them in most games. However, the offense was the side of the floor that struggled to produce or halted momentum in the most inopportune times and found the Knighthawks in the basement of the league with just 184 goals for.
Truly, the only way to go from there is up for the Knighthawks. Carey believes that the confidence the Knighthawks roster can place in one another after this summer of winning is the beginning of a shift in momentum.
“I think for an athlete, the confidence that they have in their teammates is very important,” started Carey when asked about the momentum his championship players can give to the rest of the team. “For our guys that have won, and our other players that hopefully were watching, that’s something that they can kind of build confidence on – is the success that their teammates had. But again, it’s different, right?”
Carey then continued with, “It’s a new season. Even if you’re defending a championship, you can’t go into it expecting the same results. You got to work at it and know that there’s a process that’s in place in order to do that. The advantage that those players have is they know what it takes to go through that process and know the work and the effort that goes into it.”
The Knighthawks staff is aware that expectations haven’t been met over the last two seasons, however, they’re young and Carey is hoping that the success from his players this offseason can help create that championship culture here in Rochester.
“The last couple of years haven’t been up to what our expectations are wanting to be,” said Carey. “There is some patience because we’re young, but we have to figure this out and I think a big part of that is going to be the success of our players, either this summer or in previous seasons, that can help us create and enhance that winning culture.”
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.
The on-sale date for all Knighthawks single-game tickets on-sale will be announced in the coming weeks. Season Tickets for the Knighthawks for the 2022-23 season are on sale now and start as low as $18 per seat per game. More information on Knighthawks season tickets can be found at www.rochesterknighthawks.com/memberships.