Final season-opening rosters were submitted to the league on Monday afternoon as teams prepare for the NLL’s Faceoff Weekend. The Rochester Knighthawks open their season at home on Saturday, December 2, hosting the Calgary Roughnecks for a 7:00pm faceoff. For every game, teams carry a 21-man active roster with injury reports submitted 48-hours prior to the game.
16 HAWKS RETURN
Of the 21-man active roster, 16 players return for another season in Rochester.
Defenseman Ryland Rees returns for his fourth season in Rochester, having been selected second-overall by the Knighthawks in 2019. Rees is the three-time Defensive MVP and has totaled 22 goals and 20 assists for 42 points in his 46 career games. Rees finished second among all Knighthawks defensemen in goals (7), assists (9), and points (16). He recorded career-highs in assists and points. Rees is in the second year of his two-year contract.
Forward Turner Evans returns for his fourth season with the Knighthawks. He established career-highs in both goals (14) and points (46) in 15 games with Rochester during the 2021-22 campaign. The 30-year-old completed his sixth campaign in the NLL last year after being a second-round selection of the Toronto Rock (10th overall) in the 2015 NLL Entry Draft. Evans played his collegiate lacrosse at Ohio State University, where he was a four-time Scholar-Athlete and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward is also a four-time Mann Cup champion with his hometown Peterborough Lakers, winning titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.
Defenseman Dan Coates enters his 12th season in the NLL and third in Rochester. Coates re-signed a one-year deal with Rochester in July, bringing 157 career games back to Segar & Sciortino Field. In 29 games with the Knighthawks, Coates has recorded 21 points (3+18) and 170 loose ball recoveries while also leading the team to its first-ever playoff appearance this past spring.
Forward Curtis Knight enters the second year of his two-year contract and fourth overall in Rochester. Prior to joining the Knighthawks, the Oshawa, Ontario, native spent the first six seasons of his NLL career with the Saskatchewan Rush from 2013-19, recording 307 points (122+185) and 350 loose balls in 99 games. Knight helped the Rush to six consecutive first-place finishes in the regular season while also leading the team to a pair of NLL titles over a three-year span. In his second season with the Rush in 2014, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward was named team MVP after registering a career-high 72 points, including 35 goals, which ranked 10th in the NLL.
Defenseman Brad Gillies is back for his second season with the expansion-era Knighthawks and sixth overall in Rochester. Gillies is no stranger to Rochester having spent the first four years of his pro career with the previous Knighthawks organization after being selected ninth overall in the 2015 NLL Entry Draft. Prior to turning pro, Gillies was a four-year starter at Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.) from 2012-2015. A mainstay on the Tigers midfield, he tallied 97 career points on 27 goals and 70 assists in 83 career games, helping the Tigers to four Liberty League titles and four trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, including a championship game appearance in 2013.
Goaltender Rylan Hartley suits up for his fourth season between the pipes for Rochester. Hartley, who was originally acquired by the Knighthawks in the third round of the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft, was named the team’s Unsung Hero last season. Hartley finished third among all NLL goaltenders in minutes (1,049) and saves (713), while is 10 wins last season tied him for 4th-best amongst the league’s netminders.
Transition player Tyler Biles returns to Rochester for his fourth season in military green and gold after recording two assists and a career-high 37 loose ball recoveries last season. He racked up 24 penalty minutes, but really made a name for himself defending his teammates on the floor. Biles re-signed to a two-year contract over the summer.
Forward Ryan Smith enters his third season in Rochester after re-signing a two-year deal over the summer. Smith finished his second season with the Knighthawks third on the team in scoring with 75 points (33 goals, 42 assists). Smith recorded at least one point in all 17 games he appeared in last season and posted 10 multi-goal efforts. He tallied a season-high five goals in Buffalo on January 20, 2023. “Smitty” holds the franchise record with 19 career power play tallies.
Transition player Matt Gilray returns for his third season in Rochester after signing a three-year contract extension in 2022. Gilray led the team in loose ball recoveries last season, with 154, and was tied for first with 26 caused turnovers. Gilray was one of seven players to appear in all games last season, and looks to continue his success on the floor this season.
Defenseman Tyler Halls begins his third season with the Knighthawks, having signed a two-year contract over the summer. Halls recorded seven assists and a career-high 86 loose ball recoveries last season, while winning 127 faceoffs for the Hawks. “Hallszy” was named co-Teammate of the Year, as voted on by his team.
Defenseman Mitch Ogilvie completed his second season with Rochester in 2022-23, leading all team defensemen in assists (7) and points (8) while being one of only seven Knighthawks to appear in all 18 games. In 26 career NLL games, all with Rochester, he has amassed 10 points on three goals and seven assists while also recording 156 loose ball recoveries. He led his hometown Peterborough Lakers to their fourth straight Mann Cup in 2022 after producing 14 points (6+8) in 26 games. Rochester’s fourth-round selection (54th overall) of the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, Ogilvie was also a five-year starter at Guelph University.
Transition player Thomas Whitty hits the floor for his third season after spending most of last season on the Physically Unable to Perform List. Whitty has recorded one goal and seven assists in his 28 career-games for the Knighthawks. During his rookie season in Rochester, Whitty led all rookies with 12 penalty minutes and made 52 loose ball recoveries.
Forward Connor Fields enters his second season in military green and gold, after being named a second team all-league selection in his first season in Rochester. Fields recorded 17-straight multi-goal games and set a single-season franchise record for goals (52), assists (60), and points (112) last season. He led the team in scoring in 14 of 17 games last season, and posted four-straight four-goal games. Fields is only the third American-born player in NLL history to record 100 points in a season. He was also named Offensive MVP.
Goaltender Riley Hutchcraft returns for his second season in Rochester after making 25 saves last season. Hutchcraft was acquired in the 2022 NLL Expansion Draft along with Connor Fields from the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. “Hutchy” was named co-Teammate of the Year last season.
Forward Austin Hasen returns to Rochester for his second season, after posting four goals and 21 assists during his rookie season. Hasen was named the NLL’s Rookie of the Week after the opening weekend in 2022-23 after being drafted 18th-overall in 2022.
Defenseman Joe Post hits the floor for his second season — but first full season — in Rochester after being signed mid-season last year.
FROM THE DRAFT
The Knighthawks’ first-overall pick in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft, Thomas McConvey will make his NLL debut on Saturday night. The 6’4″ forward spent his graduate season at the University of Virginia, scoring 28 goals and adding 24 assists for the Cavaliers. McConvey was named an All-ACC Selection, USILA and Inside Lacrosse First Team All-American, and received the Lt. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award as the nation’s top midfielder.
From the 2023 NLL Entry Draft, the Knighthawks selected defenseman Ben Macdonnell 16th-overall, after acquiring the pick from the Calgary Roughnecks. Macdonnell led the Whitby Warriors to a Minto Cup championship last summer and posted seven goals and 18 points for the Oshawa Outlaws of the Arena Lacrosse league.
ACQUIRED VIA TRADE
In the same trade that acquired the 16th-overall pick, the Knighthawks acquired forward Kyle Waters from the Roughnecks. He recorded 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 16 games for Calgary last season, and added 14 loose ball recoveries. Waters was signed to a two-year contract over the summer.
Ahead of the NLL Entry Draft, Rochester acquired veteran forward Dan Lomas from the New York Riptide. Lomas joins the Knighthawks after tallying 44 goals and 32 assists for 76 points in 31 games for New York. He added 89 loose ball recoveries. Lomas previously played in Rochester after being drafted to the previous Knighthawks franchise in the 2016 NLL Entry Draft.
VETERAN FREE AGENT SIGNED
Defenseman Ethan O’Connor, who won the NLL Champion’s Cup last season with Buffalo, will provide another veteran presence on defense for Rochester. He signed a two-year deal during the offseason after recording 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) and 147 loose ball recoveries in 50 regular season games for the Bandits. He added four assists in 15 playoff contests and appeared in the back-to-back NLL Finals appearances.
NOT ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER
Transition player Cory Highfield, who spent last season on injured reserve, is currently on the Practice Player list. He is on the second year of a two-year deal, and totaled 12 goals and seven assists in 2019-20 with the Knighthawks. Highfield also recorded 65 loose ball recoveries in his 20 career games in Rochester.
Defenseman Pent Eistrat, also begins the season on the Practice Player list. He signed a two-year contract over the offseason.
Defenseman Taylor Jensen, who the Knighthawks signed in August, rounds out the season-opening Practice Player list for Rochester. Jensen completed a four-year career at Rochester Institute of Technology, producing 27 points in 64 career games for the Tigers. He also led the Tigers to consecutive Division III NCAA Tournament Championships in 2021 and 2022.
Defenseman Greg Harnett, who signed as a free agent in October, was assigned to the Injured Reserve List ahead of the Home Opener. Harnett is entering his 10th NLL season, having posted 25 points and 316 loose ball recoveries in his 119 career games for the Calgary Roughnecks. He won the NLL Championship in 2019.
Forward Stephen Keogh, who was signed for his third-stint in Rochester in September, was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Keogh returns for his 12th NLL season having totaled 451 points (227 goals and 224 assists) in 151 career games between Rochester, Halifax, Colorado, and Toronto. With the previous Knighthawks organization, Keogh recorded 244 points and helped the franchise win three-straight NLL Championships.
Transition player Connor Farrell, who was acquired from San Diego in August, has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list ahead of Faceoff Weekend. Farrell enters his 4th NLL season, but appeared in 32 PLL games with the Chrome Lacrosse Club, tallying eight points and 334 loose ball recoveries. He won 56.1% of his faceoffs on the field.