KNIGHTHAWKS TAKE THREE YOUNG ‘BUCKS’ IN FIRST ROUNDSep 19, 2017
Rochester also selects Perroni and tough Six Nations’ defensemen Stacey and Doolittle
(September 18, 2017)… The Rochester Knighthawks looked to Columbus, Ohio to reload their roster by taking three former Ohio State University Buckeyes in the first round of the 2017 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft.
The Knighthawks made history Monday night in Oakville, Ontario as they became the first team to pick three players from the same university in the first round of the NLL Entry Draft. The Canadian trio all played huge roles in the Buckeyes’ trip to the 2017 NCAA Division I Finals.
“We went on a pretty good run this year, so I am close to those guys. They are my teammates, but at the same time they are a couple of my best friends,” said Jake Withers, who was picked second overall. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am excited to get going with them and hopefully we can go on another title run this winter.”
Rochester kicked off its first-round haul by taking defenseman/faceoff specialist Jake Withers. The Knighthawks selected forward Austin Shanks fifth overall and then took forward Eric Fannell with the sixth pick. With Withers, Rochester adds a player who has a penchant for winning faceoffs which he demonstrated at Ohio State.
In 2017, while serving as one of the Buckeyes’ team captains, he was named a 2017 Second Team All-American. The Peterborough, Ontario native was also named the Big Ten Specialist of the Year in back-to-back seasons (2016-17). In 2017, he ranked fourth in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten in faceoff winning percentage (.647) and was seventh nationally with 7.6 ground balls per game. In his career, he had a .595 faceoff winning percentage (614-of-1,032).
This summer, the 23-year-old Withers dominated draws for the Mann Cup champion Peterborough Lakers, winning 134 of 172 for an incredible .779 winning percentage. The Lakers standout also chipped in eight points in 12 games while playing under Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen.
“‘Haser’ is a great coach,” said Withers. “I am thankful that he gave me the opportunity to come to Rochester to play under him.”
The Knighthawks added their second Buckeye with the fifth pick, taking Shanks. During his collegiate career, the Whitby, Ontario native posted 83 goals and 40 assists in 60 games. The 23-year-old played his final two collegiate seasons in Columbus. In 2017, he finished second in the nation with nine man-up goals, as part of a 15-goal, four-assist senior season. Shanks, who roomed with Withers in college and currently lives with Fannell, was excited to be part of the Ohio State contingent heading to Rochester.
“It just shows what it means to be a Buckeye,” he said. “There’s a big difference than most schools. I think today proves that.”
At the Junior “A” level, Shanks won a Minto Cup with the hometown Whitby Warriors in 2013. The following season, he led the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) in goals and was second in points. In 2015, Shanks was named league MVP and the most outstanding player, while leading the circuit in points. He finished his career in Whitby with 129 goals and 140 assists in 72 regular season games. He has spent parts of four seasons with the Brooklin Redmen of Major Series Lacrosse (MSL), posting 55 goals and 50 assists in 31 games.
With the sixth pick, Rochester selected Eric Fannell. In 2017, he led Ohio State in assists (30) and points (66), while finishing second with 36 goals. His point and assist totals both tied for 10th in single-season program history. On Monday, he took one more step forward to playing professional lacrosse.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Fannell about getting selected by the Knighthawks. “I have been looking forward to this day my entire life.”
In the MSL, the 23-year-old spent the past two seasons with the Oakville Rock. In 15 games, he scored 12 goals and added 16 assists for 28 points. He played for the Junior “A” St. Catharines Athletics from 2012-15 and amassed 76 goals and 68 assists in 57 games. What’s more impressive is that he played the first two seasons as a goalie. In 2012, he was named the OLA regular season MVP.
The Knighthawks used the 14th overall selection to take Whitby, Ontario native Adam Perroni. The 21-year-old transition player was one of the standouts at the 2017 NLL Combine. Perroni finished in the Top 10 among defensemen in the medicine ball toss (second), agility (fourth overall), the 40-yard sprint (eighth), and the 300-yard shuttle (eighth). Finishing 10th overall in the combine peaked the interest of the Knighthawks.
“We like Adam’s size and grit,” said Knighthawks head scout Stuart Brown. “We think he can develop into a solid defender in the NLL.”
In 2017, Perroni appeared in 19 games with the Junior “A” Whitby Warriors and notched five goals and five assists. He was also called up by the Brooklin Redmen for three MSL games. In two seasons in Whitby, he played in 20 games and recorded 10 points. Perroni spent four seasons (2013-16) of Junior “B” ball with the Clarington Green Gaels, collecting 69 goals and 73 assists in 70 games.
Rochester used its fifth-round selection to take defenseman Trevor Stacey, who was celebrating his 20th birthday.
“It was pretty exciting to get drafted by the Rochester Knighthawks,” said Stacey. “It’s a great organization. I’m just glad to get things started.”
In 2017, the rugged defender accumulated 107 penalty minutes in eight regular season games. He also won his third Minto Cup with the Six Nations Arrows. At the Junior “B” level, he played three seasons with the hometown Kahnawake Hunters, collecting 233 PIMS in 23 games.
“Trevor is one of the toughest defenders in the draft,” said Brown. “He has underrated skill, and we feel that he has some good upside. He's a great young man who's also played hockey and at the major junior level. We are excited to get him to training camp and start working with him.”
With the 52nd overall pick, the Knighthawks drafted another defenseman from Six Nations in Kessler Doolittle. The Six Nations product recently won a Minto Cup with the Six Nations Arrows. In two seasons with the Arrows, Doolittle notched 11 points in 30 games. In four seasons at the Junior “B” level, he was part of three Founders’ Cup championship teams. In 2015, he was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player in the Junior “B” Western Conference. He also won a bronze medal with the Iroquois West at the 2015 U19 World Lacrosse Challenge.
“Kessler is a tough, versatile defender with a winning pedigree,” said Brown. “We are excited to get a player like Kessler in the draft and we are looking forward to seeing him at training camp.”