When you’re a 15-year pro like Shawn Evans it’s hard to narrow down your top moments in a season to just three. The Rochester Knighthawks’ veteran forward was having himself another standout season prior to it getting cut short due to an upper body injury and then the outbreak of COVID-19 that followed and canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign. Evans ranked third on the Knighthawks squad in points, was named as one of two assistant captains and joined an elite club in league history despite his 15th season in the NLL being cut short. Here’s a look back at two-time NLL MVP’s top three moments of this season in his return to the Flower City.
1. RETURNING TO THE ROC
Fun fact about the Knighthawks’ veteran forward, Evans was originally selected by the previous Rochester Knighthawks in the first round (second overall) of the 2005 NLL Entry Draft and starred on their roster from 2006 to 2011, winning a championship along the way.
In the six seasons that he played for the former franchise to kick off his NLL career, Evans appeared in 93 games and notched 363 points over that span. It should come as no surprise that the two-time league MVP was also named to the NLL All-Rookie Team back in 2006 and was a part of the former Knighthawks championship squad back in 2007. He also earned four straight All-Pro First Team selections over his NLL career.
This past season, Evans was acquired by the new-look Knighthawks first overall in the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft, returning him to the city that began his professional career.
2. ASSISTANT CAPTAIN
Back on Nov. 29, the Knighthawks announced that veteran defenseman Paul Dawson had been named team captain for Rochester’s inaugural season. Dawson was joined by forwards Evans and Curtis Knight, who served as the team’s assistant captains.
Evans spent last season – his 14th in the NLL – with the rival Buffalo Bandits, posting 94 points (28+66) in 17 games to finish seventh in the league in scoring. He helped the Bandits claim the East Division with an NLL-best 14-4 record during the regular season and an appearance in the NLL Cup Finals, bringing Buffalo to within one win of its fifth NLL championship.
If those accolades aren’t enough to prove why this guy was one of three players chosen to lead the squad in their inaugural campaign, then I don’t know what better qualifies you to be a team leader in the NLL.
3. EVANS JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Returning to Rochester and joining the expansion-era Knighthawks for the 2019-20 season, Evans didn’t seem to miss a beat when the season got underway in late November.
In just nine games during the team’s inaugural campaign, Evans accumulated 43 points to rank to third on the team in scoring, with 24 of those points coming within his last five games. Despite missing the last two games of the regular season due to injury, the Knighthawks assistant captain tallied a team-high 41 penalty minutes and was recording nearly five points per game while also averaging nearly 14 shots.
With his nine-point effort back on Jan. 11 in Toronto, Evans became just the sixth player in NLL history to reach 1,200 career points. It didn’t take him long either as the 15th-year pro recorded a point on each of Rochester’s first six goals of the contest, including the primary assist on all three first-quarter scores. Evans notched his 1,200th point with a goal just 53 seconds into the second quarter and now trails only the likes of John Tavares, Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson, Colin Doyle and John Grant, Jr. for the most points all-time in league history.
Not long after that, Evans continued his climb up the league’s all-time scoring lists. With his fourth assist of the game in the 16-15 overtime loss at Buffalo on Jan. 31, Evans surpassed former teammate John Grant, Jr. for fifth all-time in league history. Evans will pass Shawn Williams, another former teammate, for ninth all-time in goals (445) on his next goal.