Going into the 2022 National Lacrosse League Draft, the Rochester Knighthawks had just five selections. However, as the day came to a close, the Knighthawks left with six new players hopeful to make an impact in the organization.
With the Knighthawks having just one pick, the first overall, in the first round of the draft, there was opportunity for general manager Dan Carey to make some moves in order to acquire another pick in the round. Carey decided to do just that by acquiring the 18th overall pick from the Las Vegas Desert Dogs in exchange for goaltender Joel Watson and Rochester’s second-round pick in the 2024 NLL Entry Draft.
Subsequently, the Knighthawks then went on to select forward Austin Hasen, the son of Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen, at 18th overall to conclude their picks in the opening round.
“No, there was no convincing on his part,” stated Carey when asked what convinced him to make the move for Mike Hasen’s son. “Honestly, I know he’s a huge fan of his and, as a father, I think there’s obviously that bias opinion of your son or daughter, but we’ve watched him enough and all of us are fans of Austin.”
And for the younger Hasen, it was just as shocking that he’d continue to play under his father, just now in the professional spotlight.
“No, that caught me completely by shock. I did not see that coming but I’m excited for it. It’s another chance to play for him and it’ll be fun.”
This past spring, Hasen completed his senior season at Belmont Abbey College in 2022 with 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 is completing his first season with the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse, having totaled 23 points on 11 goals and 12 assists in 12 games. The Lakers are currently fighting for the Mann Cup against the Langley Thunder, hence why the Hasens had to make an early departure from the draft.
Austin Hasen just doing his thing in game two of the Mann Cup 👀
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) September 12, 2022
The best part of this Peterborough experience for Hasen? The young forward gets to play with a ton of players who are on the current Knighthawks roster while also playing under his father.
“It’s a lot of fun right now,” stated Hasen when asked about playing under his dad for Peterborough. “It’s a bunch of guys that play for Rochester there as well, so learning from them and just going for a Mann cup with them right now. It’s exciting and hopefully we can do that and bring a championship to Rochester sometime soon as well.”
Prior to his time in the MSL, Hasen 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 Hasen during those days with the Excelsiors? Dad.
“Years of practice,” commented the elder Hasen when asked how he’s separated being a dad and a coach through the years. “I’m probably one of his biggest critics to boot and he’s come to for me all those years.”
After all those years of coaching his son, he truly feels he can push his son’s buttons a little more as a coach rather than a dad.
“He needs to make sure he’s in the best shape of his life and, as a dad, I’ve told him that for years, but now as a coach, I can maybe push buttons a little bit more here,” stated Hasen when asked about how Austin could make the Knighthawks roster out of training camp. “But you know what? He’s going to be good. He’ll be good for us and he’s going to work really well with the guys he’s already familiar with and playing with right now.”
The coolest part about the younger Hasen’s homecoming to Rochester is the fact that his father had spent so much time in the city during his own career in the NLL while playing and now coaching.
The older Hasen is certainly no stranger to Rochester, having served as head coach of the former Knighthawks franchise since the 2011 season. 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.
Just a couple of beautiful Austin Hasen highlights 👀 pic.twitter.com/g8Dw2cglf7
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) September 12, 2022
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.
But just because the younger Hasen is the son of a coach who’s had such a prolific career in this city, doesn’t mean he won’t have to earn every opportunity given.
“I think he’s a player that can help us win games and he’s going to have to come in and earn it just like anybody else,” explained Carey when asked how he felt Austin would fit on to the Rochester roster. “It’s not like we have a spot that he’s going to be given. He’s going to earn it.”
With the 18th overall selection, we have selected Austin Hasen! pic.twitter.com/Mbe1bhx3Xo
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) September 10, 2022
And the younger Hasen has no expectation of things just being handed to him. Come training camp, he knows has to prove just why he needs to make Rochester’s roster for the 2022-23 campaign.
“First and foremost, making the team out of camp,” said Hasen when asked what his number one goal was headed into his first season in the NLL. “That’s definitely the first goal and that’s what I’m going to be striving to do.”
And dad knows that all his son gets right now is an opportunity to try and make his own mark in a league that’s shaped him over the years.
“In my eyes, he’s a great player, but at the same time, listening to other people talk, he deserves to be here. He deserves the opportunity and that’s what he gets right now. All he gets is an opportunity.”
Unlike a lot of players with a fifth year of eligibility, Hasen will not be returning to Belmont Abbey. The young forward will be attending Knighthawks training camp in October, striving to make the team and begin his first year in the NLL.