February 15, 2012

Five Knighthawks Suspended For Role in Restaurant Brawl

Players landed in hospital, court after incident following Sunday's loss in Minnesota

Travis Hill was among five Rochester Knighthawks that appeared in a Minnesota court to face charges stemming from a restaurant brawl in the hours after Rochester's loss to the Swarm on Sunday.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Rochester Knighthawks players Cody Jamieson, Jordan Hall, Travis Hill, Sid Smith and Tyler Burton have been suspended indefinitely, the National Lacrosse League announced Wednesday.

Four of them required medical treatment and spent Sunday night in a Minnesota hospital after being involved in a restaurant brawl, head coach Mike Hasen revealed during the NLL's weekly coaches' conference call Wednesday. Hasen declined to name the players who required treatment.

On Tuesday afternoon, The Rochester Five had appeared in an Edina, Minnesota, court to face a variety of charges stemming from what happened hours after a loss to the Minnesota Swarm in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on Sunday afternoon.

What began as a verbal altercation with other patrons escalated when menus, glasses and cutlery were thrown at a T.G.I. Friday's, police told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. A brawl erupted after midnight. Damage was pegged at about $1,600. More than two dozen people might have been involved and a total of seven were arrested.

Knighthawks president Lewis Staats issued a statement Tuesday evening verifying that ''five of the people taken into custody were Rochester Knighthawks players. The five players appeared in court and are on their way home. We are conducting our own investigation of the incident. As there is now an ongoing legal proceeding, we will not be issuing any further comment at this time.''

Jamieson is Rochester's leading scorer and is second in the NLL in goals, 18, and points, 38, in six games.

A league announcement Wednesday afternoon stated that ''each have been suspended indefinitely pending further investigation by the league.''

''Players in the NLL are held to a higher standard and are expected to conduct themselves in a way that promotes the values upon which the league is based,'' NLL commissioner George Daniel stated. ''The players involved in this incident that were arrested failed to live up to this standard and are subject to discipline even where the conduct itself may not ultimately result in conviction of a crime.''

The players have the right to appeal the commissioner's decision to an independent arbitrator in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

Rochester's next game is at home Saturday night against the Washington Stealth.

Game of the Week

Colorado, 5-0 and fresh after a weekend off, is at Minnesota, 3-2, on Saturday night, and it'd be strange given how Evan Kirk handcuffed the 'Hawks to see head coach Mike Lines send anybody else into the Swarm crease.

The Mammoth beat Minnesota in Denver on Jan. 14.

''We're excited to get back at it,'' says coach Bob Hamley.

Rookie defenseman Dan Coates has been impressive.

''He's fit right in,'' says Hamley. ''He's a very coachable kid who works very hard at his game and he's probably one of the fittest guys on the team.''

Tuna Anyone?

Frankie Scigliano has arrived.

At six foot four and 290 pounds, he's hard to miss.

Scigliano made his pro debut in the 25th minute in relief of starting goalie Mike Poulin and stopped 34 of 39 shots to help the Calgary Roughnecks to a 12-11 road win over the Washington Stealth last Friday night.

''Frankie went in and played a great game,'' says teammate Shawn Evans. ''He made a lot of game-changing saves to keep us on top. He was a difference maker. We were so happy he got his first win. He's got a bright future ahead of him.''

Scigliano is only 20 and he wears No. 92 because it is his birth year. The native of Coquitlam, British Columbia, was the 18th player selected in the entry draft last September after leading the B.C. junior league with an .846 save percentage.

His favorite pre-game meal? A foot-long tuna sub.

100 For Shattler

Jeff Shattler fourth goal of the game was not only the winner, it was the 100th of his career.

''I had no idea,'' he said when informed after the game he'd reached the milestone. ''That's pretty cool. A lot of years playing in this league, I guess. It was awesome for sure.''

The 2011 league MVP is thriving in an expanded offensive role this year.

Rookie goalie Evan Kirk made 46 saves in a win over Rochester Sunday. He's shown here with fellow rookie and recently named all-star reserve Jordan MacIntosh.
© Scott Pierson 

First Star in First Start

Evan Kirk dressed as the backup goalie and watched Nick Patterson and Tyler Carlson start Minnesota's first four games. Kirk patiently waited his turn, and he made the most of it when he got it Sunday afternoon.

The Swarm won 9-6 despite being outshot 52-44 by Rochester, and Kirk was named the game's most outstanding player after making 46 saves to help his team improve to 3-2.

Kirk was the sixth overall entry draft pick last September after playing NCAA field lacrosse for Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y. At 5-11 and 185 pounds, he's smaller than most lacrosse goalies so he relies on positioning and quick reflexes to frustrate shooters.

Three years with the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks of Ontario's senior summer league gave the 24-year-old native of Orangeville, Ontario, the experience and the confidence he needed to step into the NLL. It helps, too, that Kodiaks GM and former NLL goalie Steve Dietrich mentors Kirk on his game. Swarm teammate Ryan Benesch also keeps in shape playing summers for the Kodiaks.

This is what Swarm associate GM Joe Sullivan has said about Kirk, who signed a three-year contract last October: ''We believe Evan is a future all-star goalie in this league. He is athletic, charismatic and disciplined. We look for Evan to improve each time out and he expects nothing less than to be a top goaltender in this league in the near future.''

Big brother Mike Kirk, 29, is a Knighthawks defenseman.

Out of This World

Washington goaltender Tyler Richards produced a sensational performance in a losing cause. His team was outshot 71-56 and the 59 saves made by Richards gave the Stealth a chance to win the fight-filled game.

''Richards is a great goaltender,'' says Evans. ''There's a reason why his team has made the finals the last two years. We had a lot of scoring chances but couldn't get the ball past him. We were just glad to get out of there with a win.''

There's no love lost between those two teams.

''It's two teams that hate each other and want to win,'' Evans summed up. ''It was a great game and I think we showed a lot of character as a team.''

Way Up North

First place in the East Division will be at stake when the Toronto Rock, 3-2 and shooting for a fourth straight win, take on the visiting Philadelphia Wings, 3-2, this Saturday night.

Defenseman Rob Marshall is out of the Rock lineup with a broken foot so fellow vets such as Phil Sanderson will have to step up. The Rock won 15-6 in Philadelphia on Feb. 4 and Sanderson knows one thing for sure.

''I can count on Philly having a better outing than last game we played them,'' he says. ''They will try and break us down on video and I'm sure they are hoping for a few more friendly bounces going their way.''

Philadelphia GM-coach Johnny Mouradian hopes his players can build off their 14-13 home win over Buffalo last Sunday.

''We have to go into this game with the determination and the desire to tie the (season) series,'' says Mouradian.

Captain Colin Doyle has been out since pulling a hamstring Jan. 27 and it was thought he'd return to action Saturday but GM Terry Sanderson says that is now an iffy proposition.

''He left practice early (Tuesday night) so we'll see,'' he said during the league's weekly coaches' conference call Wednesday. ''We're hoping to have Colin back in the lineup but I can't say at this time he's in for sure.''

Hard to Believe

Washington, 1-4, is at Rochester, 2-4, on Saturday night as two teams too good to have losing records collide. It'll be the first Stealth game since the Monday shocker that sent Paul Rabil and a first-round 2012 entry draft pick to Edmonton for the rights to Athan Iannucci and a second-rounder.

''He's ready to go and will be in the lineup,'' coach Chris Hall replied when asked during the coaches' call if Iannucci would play Saturday. ''You add Athan to the right side and it becomes formidable.''

As for the Knighthawks, coach Mike Hasen's main concern is the offense.

''It's that inconsistency we've dealt with all year long,'' says Hasen. ''We were taking too many outside shots, looking for the easy way.''

Battle of Alberta

Edmonton, 1-3, is at Calgary 3-2, this Saturday night, when the Roughnecks will be looking for their first home win.

''It's the Hatfields and the McCoys,'' Calgary coach Dave Pym says about the provincial lacrosse feud. ''We want to put butts in the seats and to do that we have to play well at home.''

Scott Evans returns to Edmonton's lineup after being suspended for one game.

'Gone Stagnant'

Edmonton GM-coach Derek Keenan will be looking for more from his offense after blaming it for that 10-9 overtime loss in Minnesota last Friday night.

Minnesota had a 51-41 shots advantage and the 41 saves made by goaltender Aaron Bold kept the Rush in the game but his teammates could not produce enough goals in get the job done.

''We wasted an outstanding goaltending performance and a pretty good defensive performance because our offense has just gone stagnant,'' said Keenan. ''It's all about performance and on offense we have players that just aren't performing.

''Nine goals in almost five quarters of lacrosse is not good enough and I'm tired of it. With the guys we have, there is no reason we shouldn't be scoring more.''

About Time

Minnesota defenseman Joe Cinosky scored the first goal of his four-year NLL career during the overtime win over Edmonton. The 26-year-old native of New Jersey, via the University of Maryland, is head coach of the University of Minnesota men's field lacrosse team.

Scoring Race

Colorado star John Grant Jr. had last weekend off but he still leads all point-getters with 45 on 19 goals and 26 assists.

Rochester's Cody Jamieson is second with 38 points (18-20), while Buffalo's John Tavares (15-18) and Minnesota's Callum Crawford (8-25) have 33 each.

One Away

Dan Dawson's 10-point game (1-9) in Philadelphia's 14-13 home win over Buffalo last Sunday lifted him to fifth place in the scoring race and increased his career points total to 799. He's about to become the eighth player in NLL history with 800. Dawson works weekdays as a firefighter in Brampton, Ontario.

Bandits Idle

Buffalo, 2-4, loser of four in a row, doesn't play again until March 3 when Colorado visits, which leaves too much time to stew.

''Right now, we're not a smart team,'' says coach Darris Kilgour. ''When you're not a smart team, teams can take advantage of it.''

Twitter This

That was an interesting gimmick the Wings used last weekend in replacing players' names with Twitter handles on the back of jerseys. They got the attention from the media that they were seeking, and $13,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society in a post-game auction of the jerseys.

Want to try something else?

  • Mic the head coaches and captains and patch them into arena sound systems for whole games. We could hear the action on the floor instead of a tune we've already heard 500 times. Terrified somebody might hear a four-letter word? Not me. Challenge the coaches and players to keep it clean while wearing the mics and they'll make it work because their kids are in the stands, too.
  • Try instrumentals on the play list. Hey, we're not all heavy metal fans. There are plenty of rockin' tunes that could be used. The Wings, for instance, could let fans hear George Thorogood's ''Boys From Philly'' at the start of each half and follow with some classic Ventures, etc.

Attendance Update

Franchise contraction has enhanced the quality of the NLL product but attendance hasn't changed much and, unless it picks up, the majority of teams will lose money again this season.

Average attendance:

1. Buffalo 15,142
2. Colorado 14,457
3. Toronto 11,102
4. Calgary 8,400
5. Edmonton 8,192
6. Philadelphia 8,191
7. Rochester 7,522
8. Minnesota 7,442
9. Washington 4,212

(Based on multiple home games in all cases other than Edmonton, which has played only one home game.)

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli -- a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor -- are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.

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