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KNIGHTHAWKS REACT TO 2013 TITLE WIN
05/12/2013 - 1:13am

(May 12, 2013)...An offensive shootout turned into a defensive battle in the second half, and when the dusted settled, the Rochester Knighthawks had successfully defended their National Lacrosse League championship, becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles in a decade.

Despite scoring 10 goals in the first half, the Knighthawks would only find the back of the net once in the final 30 minutes of regulation, but it was all they needed to pull out the 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C.

“It was worth the ticket,” said Rochester Head Coach Mike Hasen. “It was a great game back and forth; offensive in the first half, defensive in the second half. It’s great to be a part of.”

Forward Cody Jamieson became just the second player in league history to win consecutive championship game MVP awards, joining the NLL’s all-time leading scorer John Tavares, who was named the MVP of both the 1992 and 1993 title games. Jamieson, playing for the second week on an injured ankle, scored a first-half hat trick and finished with six points (3+3).

“Nobody comes into the championship game expecting to lose,” Jamieson said. “At the start of the game in warm-ups it was hurting. Once you get in the game adrenaline just takes and you forget about it.”

Goaltender Matt Vinc finished with a postseason-high 39 saves and a .796 save percentage. He became the first netminder in league history to be crowned the Goaltender of the Year and win the Champion’s Cup in the same season.

With approximately 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Vinc denied Washington’s Rhys Duch of the game-tying goal. Duch had another opportunity to send the game into overtime with under two seconds remaining, but Vinc was there again to preserve the win.

“That final minute (Goaltending Coach Pat O’Toole) just said for me to stay relaxed,” Vinc said. “You tried to stay relaxed, but it’s almost a blur. You’re just kind of reacting out there. Fortunately, things went our way. You’re bouncing, your adrenaline is pumping and you’re ready to go. There is no other feeling, that last minute of the game in the championship.”

“When you have the best goalie in the league, we rode him all year,” Dan Dawson said. “We said that from the beginning and it wasn’t just a cliché. We were going to ride him as far as he took us and he took us to the top.”

Dawson hoisted the Champion’s Cup for the first time in his 12-year career. With four assists, he surpassed Toronto’s Colin Doyle for second all-time in postseason assists with 73 in his career. “Dangerous Dan” finished the playoffs tied with a team-high 14 points (6+8).

“Finally,” Dawson said. “One word that describes it is 'finally.' It’s a load off of my shoulders. I’m thankful (Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres) brought me on board this year and things went according to plan.”

Although he recognizes that winning that Champion’s Cup alongside his brother Paul makes the victory even more memorable, Dawson noted, “As far as I’m concerned, I have 25 brothers in that room.”

The Knighthawks are the first team to win back-to-back Champion’s Cups since the Toronto Rock did so in 2002 and 2003. With six career playoff wins, Hasen is now the franchise’s leader in postseason victories. Hasen, who is the only head coach to win multiple championships in Rochester, was unable to find the words to describe the feeling of winning consecutive titles.

“To tell you the truth, it really hasn’t sunk in at all yet,” Hasen said. “Our focus was on playing the game and now that it’s over, you can’t really describe it…it feels great but it hasn’t really sunken in yet.”


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