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12/28/2012 - 11:16pm

By Travis Larner -- Rochester Knighthawk rookie Matt Hummel received a Christmas gift a few days early this year, celebrating his spot on the team’s 23-man roster.

“You grow up playing a sport, and you want to go pro in that. Having the opportunity to do it is definitely a dream-come-true,” said Hummel. “All of the guys have been welcoming with open arms. It’s been an unbelievable experience and it might take a little bit to adapt. It’s definitely a family out there and everyone’s definitely welcomed me in.”

After practice on Wednesday, December 19th, Head Coach Mike Hasen approached the first year transition player to inform him that he made the team’s active roster. Afterward, Owner and GM Curt Styres addressed the team and offered his congratulations.

“They’re the defending champions so I knew they had a stacked lineup. I was definitely nervous coming to tryouts, but there’s nothing you can do out there but play as hard as you can every shift and don’t worry about anything but what you can control. I just played my game, went hard on every shift, and it worked out for me in the end,” he said.

The Knighthawks selected Hummel with the 38th overall pick after he renounced his remaining three years of NCAA eligibility. In his lone season with the Mercyhurst Lakers, he scored 15 goals, third-most on the team, and added seven assists.

In 2008 with the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves, Hummel was named an Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “A” All-Star. He notched 44 points (20+24) in 19 games. He also earned 48 points (13+35) and 55 points (29+26) in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In the summer of 2012, Hummel suited up for 11 games with the Major Series Lacrosse’s Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks. Now, he will try to help the Knighthawks become the first team to repeat since the Toronto Rock did so in 2002-03.

“Everything you work for, you want to win the Championship in the end. To do it two years in a row is something everyone has got to work toward and everyone wants to do,” said Hummel. “You can’t look to at the end of the season, you got to look at the first game and take it game by game. Hopefully, at the end of this season you’ll walk out with a ring on your hand.”

The highlight of Hummel’s preseason was the breakaway goal he netted against the Toronto Rock at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Dylan Evans lobbed a pass down the floor to Hummel, who was able to outrun the Toronto defender and beat goaltender Nick Rose over his left shoulder.

“I saw the ball bouncing in front of me and all I kept thinking was to make sure I picked the ball up and not leave it behind. Once I got the ball, I really didn’t think much after that. I just picked it up and shot and the next thing you know, it’s in the net. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I had some friends at the game who were sitting right behind the net, so I definitely gave me a little more excitement after I scored. Hopefully, I can get more and keep putting pressure on the ball.”  

Hummel will be one of 24 rookies in the league who will begin the 2013 season on an active roster. He believes his speed, which helps in transitioning the ball up the floor, and his defensive pressure are two attributes that allowed him to make the team.

“The constant pressure I think helped me. Just constantly being on someone and jumping back and forth on defense, and applying pressure, definitely makes a difference,” he said.

In addition to earning his first professional championship and Rochester’s second consecutive Champion’s Cup, Hummel’s goal is to continue improving his game. He recognizes that while he made the team, this is only his first year in the NLL and there is always more to learn.

“(My goal is) to definitely to learn the system Coach Hasen has going on and what we’re doing on the defensive side, and fitting in with the team and getting closer to those guys and make it more of a family experience,” he said.

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