NATIONAL SHOWDOWN IN ROCHESTER
2/21/13 4:15 PM
Hamilton Nationals fans craving the excitement of lacrosse can drive to Rochester, NY this Saturday to see some of their favorite players. The professional indoor lacrosse game features 10 Nationals stars as the defending NLL Champion Rochester Knighthawks host the Philadelphia Wings.
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The Nationals’ top three point producers will hit The Blue Cross Arena turf at 7:30 p.m., as Joe Walters, Kevin Crowley and Stephen Keogh showcase their indoor skills. Walters led the Nats with 46 points last season, while Keogh was third with 32. Nationals’ standout Kevin Crowley is currently tied for the team-lead in points on the Wings after finishing second on Hamilton in points (37) in the summer of 2012.
Wings Jordan Hall, Brodie Merrill, Chad Wiedmaier and Kevin Ross also play for the Hamilton Nationals. Besides Walters and Keogh, Rochester has three additional Nationals on its roster in Cody Jamieson, Matt Vinc and Sid Smith. Jamieson had a career season in 2012 with the Nats following his MVP performance in the NLL Championship Game. He recorded 25 points in nine MLL games last summer.
Playing in the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse has allowed players to compete alongside some of their teammates all year long.
“I love playing with my Nats teammates year round,” said Crowley. “Not only are they great players, but they’re also stand-up guys that I'm good friends with.”
Yet, Saturday has a different feeling for the players with Nationals on opposite sides of the floor. With so many Hamilton players going head-to-head in the battle for third place in the NLL’s East Division, there will be more at stake.
“Bragging rights are on the line. The Wings haven't beaten the ‘Hawks in something like 11 games so there's definitely a little extra on the line,” said Crowley.
“It’s pretty easy to battle against those guys,” said Jamieson. “Once you put on a different color jersey, it’s easy to put aside friendships.”
“Jammer” did admit that he looks forward to the upcoming season after the NLL campaign has concluded in May. Last season, the Knighthawks edged the Wings 14-13 in the opening round of the NLL Playoffs en route to the franchise’s third Champion’s Cup. That gave him some extra ammunition in the locker room.
“After the season is over and you put aside the NLL, you get focused on being teammates,” he said. “There are definitely some bragging rights when the chirps get going.”
The Nationals are back for their fifth season in Major League Lacrosse. The Nats will kick off their 2013 schedule on Saturday, May 4th against the Boston Cannons. The home opener is set for Saturday, May 11th against the New York Lizards. The Nationals are geared up for the 2013 season with new Head Coach Dave Huntley ready to lead the team back to Championship Weekend.
“We want to get back to the playoffs where it's anyone's game,” said Crowley, who was on the 2011 team that advanced to the MLL Finals. “I'm excited for the roster moves and I think they will make us more competitive moving forward.”
After missing the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, Hall has extra motivation to have a successful summer. The six-year pro was a major factor in Hamilton’s run to the 2011 MLL Championship Game, notching a career-high 14 goals and 23 points that season.
“Having a full season off allowed me to re-charge my batteries,” said Hall. “For the past five years, I have been playing for three different teams in three different leagues. It was lacrosse year around. I am excited to get back and contribute to the Nats. I am looking forward to getting out there with the same boys we are playing against this weekend.”