13-year NLL veteran Scott Self (left) finally won his first championship with the Rochester Knighthawks in 2013 and shared it with his brother Brad (right) after Scott was acquired from the Buffalo Bandits at the trade deadline. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
The day after raising the Champion’s Cup for the first time in his career, Scott Self’s smile was still noticeable on his grizzled face, which still bore the playoff beard he began growing three weeks before.
“It was definitely exciting for me to win my first one,” said Self, as he stood alongside his clean-shaven younger brother, Brad. “Also, to win it with Brad was really special.”
Rochester won the 2013 NLL Championship Game on May 11, becoming the first team to repeat as league champions since the Toronto Rock accomplished the feat (2002-03). The Knighthawks withstood a late barrage of shots to hang on for an 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth at Langley Events Centre in British Columbia.
Brad was on the floor as Rhys Duch fired a point-blank shot at Matt Vinc with three seconds to go, while Scott anxiously watched from the bench.
“It was pretty wild. It was probably a little more nerve-racking for the people in the seats,” said Brad. “It is for us too, but it happens so fast you just react. ‘Vno’ is back there and had to make a huge save. It is kind of fitting after the type of year he had to finish it off with a big stop at the end.”
“It was pretty tense. Brad and I talked, and I know he was feeling pretty emotional in warm up. I was feeling that excitement and emotion all game and just trying to control it,” said Scott. “To finally win, it was so exciting, overwhelming and just exhausting.
For Brad, 32, it was back-to-back NLL Championships, and for Scott it was the first title of his 13-year pro lacrosse career. Scott and Brad shared the Cup with their parents, Steve and Jane.
“Curt (Styres) actually flew my parents out so that was pretty awesome,” said Scott.
It was a hectic day for the Self family, as their parents flew in for the game, enjoyed the championship, then headed back to Peterborough, Ontario. The trip across Canada was worth the four-hour flight as they watched the Knighthawks win back-to-back championships.
“They are diehards. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse,” said Scott.
The title was Brad’s second since being acquired from the Colorado Mammoth in the Matt Vinc trade in 2011. As he waited for his luggage at Toronto Pearson International Airport, he was happy with his decision to forgo professional hockey to focus on his NLL career.
“It’s a pretty cool experience after coming back, obviously, from hockey. I have played in the league before, and to come back and win back-to-back championships is an awesome experience with a great group of guys top to bottom,” he said.
It was just eight months ago that Scott and Brad won their second-straight title in the summer league. Their dream was to share the same experience in the NLL, but that was a difficult task with Brad in Rochester and Scott in Buffalo with the Bandits.
The dream became closer to a reality on March 13th, when the Knighthawks acquired Scott in a deal with the Buffalo Bandits for Alex Kedoh Hill. The trade deadline deal prompted Scott to jump in the car and accompany his brother to practice that night at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Scott, 33, was thrilled to be traded to the defending NLL Champions.
With the addition of Self, Jimmy Purves and Jon Sullivan at the trade deadline, the Knighthawks won four of their final six games to secure a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. The playoff produced hard-fought wins over Philadelphia and Minnesota, which set the stage for a thrilling one-goal win in the Championship Game.
“I was hoping it would (lead to the championship), but you never know how things are going to work out,” he said. “I transitioned pretty easily. We got on a really good run at the end of the year and it carried us to the championship.”
The 2013 season marked the third time in their professional careers that Scott and Brad Self played on the same NLL team. The trade reunited the brothers for the first time since the 2008 season. Scott has played in 189 games in 13 seasons and has made stops with seven teams. Brad and Scott first played together in the NLL in 2003.
The third time was definitely the charm for the Selfs, who will enter the 2014 with the back-to-back champion Knighthawks.
“The plan is to win and continue to keep it going. We are very fortunate to play on this team. It’s a great organization,” said Scott. “It will be nice to spend an entire year here. I am looking forward to next season and going for another championship.”
Story courtesy of Craig Rybczynski from Knighthawks.com.