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10/02/2012 - 5:32pm

(October 2, 2012)… On Monday night, the National Lacrosse League focused on the future. Tonight, it will honor its past. The NLL will induct Rochester Knighthawks and NLL goaltending legend Steve Dietrich into its Hall of Fame this evening in Toronto at The Westin Harbour Castle.

"It's an incredible honor," said Dietrich about his induction into the Hall of Fame. "As I played my career, I never would have dreamed that this could have happened. To be included with the legendary names that are already in the Hall of Fame, it's an incredibly humbling feeling."

The Hall of Fame ceremony will conclude a busy three days of NLL events. On Sunday, prospects and non-roster free agents participated in the NLL Combine. The following night, 56 players were selected in the six-round draft. At 7:00 p.m. tonight, Dietrich, who played 18 seasons in the league, will go into the Hall of Fame as its 18th member.

He joins other former Knighthawks players such as Paul and Gary Gait, and Darris Kilgour in the prestigious club. Former Rochester teammates Chris Driscoll, Paul Gait and Pat McCready, and Knighthawks Assistant Coach Paul Day will be in attendance to congratulate Dietrich on his induction.

“Chugger” helped the Knighthawks become as an instant Cup contender in their first season in 1995. Dietrich, who was the first great goalie in team history, led Rochester to the NLL Finals in the team’s inaugural season. Two years later, he backstopped Rochester to its first title in 1997, earning Championship Game MVP honors in a 15-12 win over Buffalo. His 54-save effort was vintage “Chugger.”

“We had a good well-rounded team, but Buffalo was stacked,” said Day. “’Chugger’ was unconscious and unbelievable.”

“He made some huge saves in that game after leading us to the Finals in 1995,” added Driscoll, who played with Dietrich in Rochester from 1995-99. “He was the difference in the game.”

Dietrich played seven of his 18 seasons with the Knighthawks and was the first team MVP in 1995. He is still second in team history in saves and was a two-time All-Pro with Rochester. In his career, he played for Baltimore, Detroit, Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Rochester. In 2006 he won the League MVP Award and had one of the best statistical individual seasons for a goaltender in league history, posting a save percentage of .808 and a goals-against average of 9.97. He made 5,531 career saves, logged more than 8,300 minutes and earned a record of 60-47.

The lone member of the Class of 2012, Dietrich continues to serve the game as a general manager. His move to the front office was not a surprise to Day, who witnessed Dietrich’s dedication to the game from the moment that “Chugger” arrived in Rochester in 1994. Not only did the Kitchener, Ontario native move to Rochester, but he was a frequent visitor to local radio shows as he helped market Rochester’s newest pro sports franchise. Dietrich was also an innovator in his game preparation, which was something Day remembers well.

“At the time, he and Dallas (Eliuk) were the two best goalies in the league,” said Day, who coached Dietrich for seven seasons with the Knighthawks. “I had never seen a goalie that studied players and did video. He set the tone for guys like (Anthony) Cosmo and Vno (Matt Vinc), who are real students of the game. We always talked about players, which we still do to this day, and we brought in a lot of those guys. You could tell he was destined to work in lacrosse.”

Tonight, he closes the playing chapter of his career with his induction into the NLL Hall of Fame.

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