JR KNIGHTHAWKS CONTINUE CHAMPIONSHIP LEGACY
By Andrea Chevalier - In true Rochester Knighthawks fashion, the Junior Knighthawks took home the championship in two of the three divisions on Sunday. The Bantam and Midget teams came out victorious in their championship rounds, continuing the championship legacy created by their NLL Knighthawks.
In the Bantam Division, the Jr. Knighthawks got their revenge after last year’s semifinal loss, winning the Championship in their division by a score of 10-6 against the Jr. Rock.
The Jr. Rock took an early three goal lead, but the Knighthawks wouldn’t give up easily. Riley Miller got the Knighthawks going as he took charge to the net to cut the deficit to two. William Carnduff scored the Knighthawks’ second goal of the Championship Game to bring the team within one. Payton Cormier then scored the Knighthawks go-ahead goal, his first of the game, off of a pass from Chase Scanlan.
The Jr. Knighthawks scored the next three goals to take a 7-5 lead in the first six minutes of the second half. Marshall Powless, sporting the No. 93 of his brother Johnny Powless of the Knighthawks, scored once to give his team an insurmountable three-goal lead.
“They were really good out there, very disciplined,” said Coach Ron Elijah. “We just played our system and everything went really well. There was a good corps of veterans on here. Last year we were the team to beat and we got beat in the semis so this year felt good.”
In the Midget Division Finals, the Jr. Knighthawks took a 7-2 lead at the half to come out on top with a 12-9 win over the Jr. Stealth. The Knighthawks team was coached by Miles General, Nick Skye, six-time NLL Champion Chris Driscoll, and Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres.
The Knighthawks were led by a four-goal effort from Cecil Monture, who is the cousin of Knighthawk Cody Jamieson, while Owen Friesen and Daylen Hill each scored twice. Sidney Powless, also wearing the No. 93 like his brother Johnny Powless, scored once to go along with a four-point effort from Jerry Staats (1+3) and a three-point night from Tyler Fox-Mackenzie (2+1).
The Jr. Knighthawks fought off a second half Stealth come-back, who tied at nine with eight minutes to play. But Monture started what turned into a three-goal run for the Knighthawks to give them a 12-9 victory and championship win, mirroring what their professional counterparts did back in May during the NLL Championship Series.
The Pee Wee club also played an exceptional Championship Game, rallying to force overtime in their game against the Jr. Rock. They got on the board quickly with a pair of goals before the Jr. Rock answered with their first goal of the game. Ross Hill, who has played strong throughout the tournament, netted the Jr. Knighthawks’ third goal, but it was his breakaway goal that closed out the Knighthawks’ scoring for the half as the Jr. Rock came back to tie the game at five apiece.
In the second half, Tayton Skye opened up scoring for the Jr Knighthawks, but the Jr Rock, answered with three straight goals to take a 8-6 lead. The Jr. Knighthawks fought back with goals from Skye and Richie Albert to tie the game at eight and force sudden-death overtime.
The Jr. Rock took the first shot in overtime, but was denied by the Knighthawks goalie Connor O’Toole. The Knighthawks came back and nearly beat the Jr. Rocks ’goaltender, but a quick move blocked the shot from going in. The Jr. Rock came back down and scored the game winner to earn a 9-8 win. The Jr. Knighthawks earned the silver medal to kick off a day in which all three Knighthawks teams would play for championships.
The Junior Knighthawks Pee Wee team was coached by NLL Hall of Famer Pat O’Toole, as well as Chris Horsman and Cam Hill.
“It’s an amazing experience as a guy coming from the league and for these kids to be able to play on the Toronto Rock turf and a league-sized rink. It’s unbelievable,” said O’Toole. “It was a good experience for them and that’s the most important thing.”
Rochester was one of several teams representing different NLL cities in the tournament for their own version of the Champion’s Cup. Last season, the Knighthawks were joined by the Buffalo Bandits, Colorado Mammoth, Minnesota Swarm, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Stealth at the weekend-long competition at the TRAC. The tournament was officiated by NLL referees and played under the NLL’s rulebook.
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