The Rochester Knighthawks opened their 2023-24 training camp with a new, but familiar name. Dan Lomas, a 30-year-old forward and former Knighthawk of yesteryear, is back in the Flower City.
The Burlington, Ontario, native began his professional lacrosse career with the previous iteration of Rochester Knighthawks during the 2017 season. Rochester drafted him the year prior in the second round of the 2016 NLL Draft out of High Point University.
“It’s a place I’ve had a lot of really good memories in,” said Lomas upon returning to the city where it all began. “You walk through the halls and think of all the different guys you played with and funny enough now one of them is our assistant coach, Dylan Evans. It makes me feel a little bit old, but it’s close to home and a spot where my family has a lot of memories coming to games, so it’s definitely something I’m very excited about.”
Lomas took to the floor for two seasons in a Knighthawks jersey from 2017-19. His rookie season in the NLL saw Lomas record 15 goals and 38 points over 14 games. He also posted a career high-51 ground balls.
Those 14 games played are the most Lomas has seen in a single season. He moved on from the organization in 2019 when he departed for Vancouver, then spent the last three years with New York. His journey with the Riptide had a promising start, scoring 21 goals while adding 20 assists for 41 points during the 2019-20 season, but less games meant less opportunities for Lomas the following two seasons.
“I don’t think he was very happy with the role he was given in New York,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “If you follow his journey, he came in here as a young guy and played a lot, then had to take a step backwards when Cody Jamieson came off an injury year. He did that, then got injured, then came back from injury. His journey has been up and down.”
“You get humbled in a hurry in this league,” said Lomas. “I think coming in, you expect to be a goal-scorer or a ball-carrier, but it’s so rare to make that transition (from college to pro lacrosse), so I think over that timespan I’ve just been surrounded by a bunch of guys that have taught me to take on a different role, whether that’s moving without the ball, setting picks, or sometimes even when I’m not playing in the game. I think the most I’ve learned is from watching this game. I think that’s helped me mature a bit and manage the ups and downs of the mental side of the game, too.”
Lomas left as a young player and returns as a veteran. Still, there’s no ‘hometown discount’ for the returnee. Lomas isn’t letting nostalgia cloud his judgment, or his mindset entering the new season.
“For me, step one is earning the ability to put the jersey on here. I want to show that I belong on this team and earn a spot.”
“He’s a veteran that’s going to come in and work,” said Hasen. “He’s going to push everybody around us to get better, but he’s got to prove what he’s going to earn here in Rochester.”
The lessons learned over the years have Lomas returning to Rochester with a different perspective. When he left, the then second-year pro was looking for his next opportunity to showcase his abilities as a young forward in the game. Now, he embarks on his second tour of duty with Rochester as a veteran and a player that has seen and lived through experiences in this league that have shaped his approach.
“A former Knighthawk, Dan Dawson, once told me that the only certainty in the NLL is uncertainty. You never know what is going to happen. I left Rochester for what I felt was a great opportunity, but I think in the back of my mind there was always a piece of my heart that was down in Rochester.”
“There’s a certain level of comfort that it’s coming home, which for me is pretty cool, being around for seven-odd years now in the NLL. To come full circle and be back in Rochester is an awesome feeling.”