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05/02/2014 - 10:46am

By Craig Rybczynski -- Kyle Laverty may have hung up his helmet and lacrosse stick, but he made sure he was in the stands to support the Rochester Knighthawks last Saturday night. The former Knighthawks defenseman was treated to a 16-14 victory over the rival Buffalo Bandits at the First Niagara Center. (Photo by Micheline Veluvolu of 2012 celebration)

It was fitting that Laverty was in Buffalo in late April. Last year, he returned to play for the Knighthawks on April 17, 2013 and three days later, Rochester earned a 10-9 win in Buffalo to clinch a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. Less than three weeks later, he was hoisting the Champion’s Cup for the third time in his career.

Laverty ended his playing career on May 11th with a postgame celebration in Langley, BC, following Rochester’s 11-10 win over the Washington Stealth. It was a decision he was glad he made, especially considering the way the season ended.

“It was the icing on the cake. It was nice of the team to ask me to come back to add some depth for the playoff run,” said Laverty. “It was really exciting and a great way to top off (my career).”

During his playing days, Laverty was a hard-nosed defenseman for 13 seasons in the National Lacrosse League. He played in 171 games and stands as the NLL’s all-time penalty minutes leader. The Peterborough, Ontario native spent his final five seasons with the Knighthawks. “Lavs” said he still misses the thrill of coming to the rink each weekend.

"Hanging out with the guys, going on road trips and all the fun stuff in the locker room is what you really miss,” said Laverty. “After you don’t do it for a while, you miss it, especially when you make the trip (to games and practices) with three or four guys.”

One can only imagine the banter that occurred over the past several years on road trips with personalities and fellow Peterborough natives like Cory Vitarelli, Brad and Scott Self, and Scott and Shawn Evans.

Nearly a year has passed since Laverty won his second straight Champion’s Cup with Rochester, and a lot has changed for the 34-year-old. These days instead of making the commute to Wednesday night practices and hitting the road for weekend games, Laverty is focused on his family. Kyle now spends more time at home in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife, Jenni, and their nine-month-old son, Benjamin.

“It was amazing. It was the most exciting thing I have ever gone through, even being so lucky to win a couple of championships,” said Laverty about the birth of his son. “It was a different experience and it was awesome.”

Laverty still hits the road on occasion in his full-time job as a power line technician with Hydro One. Although his schedule and assignments take him all over Ontario, from Oshawa to Kingston, he still follows the Knighthawks. With a sense of pride, he pointed out that Rochester has a 3-0 record when he attends the games.

Last weekend, Laverty set aside some time to reconnect with his Knighthawks family. That included going to lunch with Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, who presented him with his 2013 Championship ring. He was all smiles as he showed off his gold championship ring.

“It was a great honor. Curt is first-class in everything he does. There was a lot that went into that ring,” he said. “He put so much thought and detail into it. I didn’t know if he could outdo the one from 2012, but this one is right there beside it.”

Later that night, Laverty was in attendance to see Rochester’s win at the First Niagara Center, which allowed the Knighthawks to tie the franchise record with 14 wins in a season. Rochester (14-4) heads into the 2014 NLL Playoffs as the top seed in the East Division. Laverty was impressed with the 2014 Knighthawks and was encouraged about the team’s chances in the upcoming postseason.

“I think if the boys stick to their game plan and play the way they can, they will be tough to beat,” said Laverty. “They play for each other and it is truly a family. When you get to that point – which has been going on for a couple of years now – it’s tough to beat. Curt has really developed quite the atmosphere and has developed a winning environment.”

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