Training Camp kicked off this past weekend for the Rochester Knighthawks as they head into their third full season in the National Lacrosse League.
While the opening day roster featured 40 players made up of four goaltenders, 11 transition players, nine defensemen and 16 forwards, the numbers will skew down as the weeks continue to pass by before Opening Knight on Dec. 3 against the Georgia Swarm. However, Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen is ready for the preseason weeks ahead and making sure that everyone is on the same page going into his third season behind the bench with the expansion-era Knighthawks.
“First of all, it’s identifying who we feel is going to be able to play for us. We just want to try to make sure we’re putting the best team forward here,” said Hasen when discussing his three main goals heading into the 2022-23 campaign. “We want to stress our principles, especially once we get down to a little bit in numbers and how we want to play and, thirdly, I think is the pace we want to play. We push our pace with as much transition as we possibly can. I think the additions we made help us on that end. So, we just want to make sure everybody’s on the same page and understand what we’re looking to do here.”
In the weeks to come, practices will be far and few between with three exhibition games on the docket for the Knighthawks.
On Sunday, Nov. 6, Rochester takes on the Buffalo Bandits at 10 a.m. at KeyBank Center in Buffalo in its first preseason matchup before heading to Brampton for the final two exhibition games ahead of the 2022-03 season. On Saturday, Nov. 12, the Knighthawks take on the Calgary Roughnecks before battling Panther City in one final tune-up on Saturday, Nov. 26. Both face-offs are set for 6:00 p.m. at Brampton Memorial Arena.
“Making the most of our time that we have together,” commented Hasen when asked how he makes sure the team gets what they need out of each practice and game before heading into the regular season. “Just making sure that, number one, our effort is there right from the get-go. That’s one thing we’re going to hang our hats on every single week. When we step on the floor, is that our effort is going to be the best. We’re going to be the hardest working team this year moving forward.”
The Knighthawks remain in the NLL’s Eastern Conference this coming season and will play only nine of the 15 teams in 2022-23, including every team in their respective conference at least twice as part of their 18-game (nine home, nine road) regular-season schedule. Rochester will again be joined in the Eastern Conference by the Albany FireWolves, Buffalo, Georgia, Halifax Thunderbirds, New York Riptide, Philadelphia Wings and Toronto Rock.
The Knighthawks embark on their third NLL season on Saturday, Dec. 3 on the road against the Swarm as part of the league’s Face-Off Weekend before returning home to host the Rock on Opening Knight on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Segar & Sciortino Field.
While the season is enough to be excited for as the Knighthawks continue with Training Camp over the coming weeks, Hasen feels that fans should be even more excited to see the new faces – draftees and free agency signings included – that are looking to finally take flight in the Flower City come Dec. 3.
Hasen finished with, “Fresh faces. Legit guys that can be here and there’s quite a few of them and, I think, just an overall new perspective of what it’s going to take and where we want to be moving forward.”