One year down in the National Lacrosse League and another year of experience to add to Rochester Knighthawks forward Ryan Smith’s resume.
“Just another year of experience, I think, and just building more chemistry, bringing other guys into the offense as well and adding more and more weapons. So, I’m very excited for the season,” commented Smith when asked how his first season in the NLL better equipped him going into the 2022-23 campaign.
Smith, the third overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, finished second among NLL rookies in 2021-22 with 35 goals and third with his 59 points while also leading all first-year players with a franchise record eight power-play goals. Additionally, Smith ranked third among rookies in power-play scoring with 15 points and was awarded the Knighthawks Offensive Player of the Year award at the conclusion of the 2021-22 campaign.
Though Smith was a standout to those watching last year, the forward still felt a lot of work needed to be done to better himself going into this season.
“I’m just kind of working on the vision part and the play-making part of things. I had a good year in terms of goal-scoring (last year), but not really a full-on production from the inside. So, just looking to get better in that department.”
Prior to turning pro, Smith was the most decorated player in history to come out of Robert Morris University.
Over his illustrious five seasons with the Colonials, Smith, who was on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List for much of the 2021 season, scored 142 goals and totaled 217 points in 69 career games, all of which are most in program history. Smith ranks second all-time in career points-per-game with 3.14 and 59 games started and third with 2.06 goals-per-game and 75 assists. A native of Burlington, Ontario, the 23-year-old Smith is also a three-time All-Northeast Conference selection and remains the only player in RMU history to win NEC Rookie of the Year honors.
Not to forget, as a fifth-year graduate student in 2021, Smith set career-highs with 48 goals and 71 points, while also establishing single-season records with his 71 points, 5.46 points-per-game and 3.69 goals-per-game. More impressively, Smith recorded hat tricks in 11 of his 13 appearances in his fifth season at Robert Morris and registered multiple-assist outings on seven different occasions. Smith finished his final year with the Colonials ranked second nationally in goals-per-game and fourth in points-per-game en route to earning All-America Honorable Mention accolades from USILA, Inside Lacrosse, US Lacrosse Magazine and College Crosse.
As Smith approaches his second season with the Knighthawks, and in the NLL, he’s not looking to set any personal goals. All sights are set on playoffs for Smith and until then he’s going to continue to work as hard as he can to help make that happen for Rochester.
“It’s just continuing to work as hard as you can to get your body ready for the games,” finished Smith when asked how he approaches preseason action headed into the Knighthawks third year in the league.
THE KNIGHTHAWKS ROAD AHEAD:
In the weeks to come, practices will be far and few between with two more exhibition games on the docket for the Knighthawks.
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.
The Knighthawks will officially embark on their third NLL season on Saturday, Dec. 3 on the road against the Georgia Swarm as part of the league’s Face-Off Weekend before returning home to host the Toronto Rock on Opening Knight on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Segar & Sciortino Field.