Aug 25, 2017

Bantam action.jpg(August 25, 2017)… The Jr. Knighthawks kicked off the fifth annual Jr. NLL Tournament with back-to-back wins over the Jr. Stealth. The Midget team opened the day with a 9-8 victory, while the Bantam side put away the Jr. Stealth 9-7.

“I have really been impressed so far,” said Jr. Knighthawks coach Brad Gillies. “Everybody is coming together as a team. We are starting to see some really good things out there. There is a lot we can build off of. To start the day 2-0, there’s not much more we can ask for as a coaching staff.”

In the Midget game, Casey McDermott led the way with four goals and one assist. Lukas Stanat also chipped in four points (2+2) and Dylan Kuntz posted three (2+1). The Jr. Knighthawks used four second-half power-play goals to break open the game, and held off a late Jr. Stealth rally to start the tourney 1-0.

The Bantam game was also a tight affair, as the Jr. Knighthawks raced out to a 7-2 lead only to have the Jr. Stealth respond with a 4-0 run. With the Jr. Knighthawks leading 7-6, Matthew Blythe scored a huge goal with under four minutes to play to give the Hawks a two-goal cushion. The tally would prove to be the game-winner.

“It was a big momentum changer,” said Blythe. “It gave us a boost to finish the game off strong.”

Bryson Green’s goal with 44 seconds to play sealed the 9-7 win for the Jr. Knighthawks. Caden Padelford powered the offense with two first-half goals and finished with a three-point effort. Cole Beardsley also added three assists.

“It has been awesome,” said Padelford, who is playing in his second Jr. NLL Tournament. “It has been a lot of fun.”

The Midget team completed the day with a 1-1 record, while the PeeWee team fell to 0-1 after dropping their opener 11-9 to the Jr. Bandits. In the rivalry game against Buffalo, Callan Davis finished with four points (3+1), and Noah Snyder and Jameson Bucktooth each scored a pair of goals.

For NLL veteran and former NLL MVP Dan Dawson, however, the game went beyond the scoreboard. For one half of the game against Buffalo, he held his 2-year-old son, Theo, as he coached the Jr. Knighthawks. It was an opportunity for the 35-year-old father to share his love of the game with his eldest of three boys.

“He just loves being around the rink,” said Dan. “I am away a lot with work and lacrosse, so any chance I get to have him around (is great) because I don’t get to spend time with him when I am playing. We had a moment there when we could spend a half together. It was special.”

The Jr. Knighthawks teams are being coached by Gillies, Dawson, Luke Laszkiewicz, and Angus Goodleaf.

“I truly enjoy it because I know these guys come to our games, so it’s a chance to get to know them on a personal level,” said Dawson. “You can give back a little bit what the game has given you. To see the tournament grow like it has, it’s always fun (to be here).” 

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