The defending champion Rochester Knighthawks and the Toronto Rock bring some of the best lacrosse players in the world to Montreal, Quebec for a preseason game on Saturday, Dec. 15 at Bell Centre.
The defending champion Rochester Knighthawks will try to build off their preseason-opening win when they take on the Toronto Rock in an exhibition game in Montreal, Quebec on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Bell Centre. Fans can listen to game live online here.
The Knighthawks defeated the Minnesota Swarm at home last weekend by a score of 11-10 after forward Johnny Powless scored a penalty shot goal with 1:40 remaining in the game. Two Rochester players who sat out the 2012 season had strong showings in their return to the field, as Casey Powell scored two first-half goals and Joel McCready recorded a hat trick.
"Everyone is battling to make the final roster, so I expect guys to continue playing with high intensity," said Knighthawks forward Joe Walters, who notched three assists in the preseason opener. "We can expect a tough game in Montreal against an always-strong Rock team.”
The Rock lost their inaugural preseason game at the new Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) last weekend to the Edmonton Rush, 12-8. Kyle Belton, the Rock's third-round draft pick (27th overall) from 2012, recorded a hat trick as both teams used the scrimmage to try out some rookies and free agents. Despite limited playing time, Toronto regulars Blaine Manning and Rob Hellyer both scored a pair of goals.
Saturday's preseason game will mark the first meeting between the rivals since Rochester's 17-13 road win over Toronto in last year's East Division Finals.
“Last season, we finally beat Toronto in the playoffs, something we hadn’t done in a while," Walters said. "We finally got that monkey off our back. They are always a tough team to play. With them being in our division, I am sure they will want to set the tone for this upcoming season."
Walters looks forward to showcasing some of the best lacrosse players in the world to the crowd in Quebec.
“It should be a great atmosphere," he said. "I hope that our game this weekend sparks new interest in lacrosse for the city of Montreal."
Adding to the excitement is the fact that both teams have selected a Quebec player to participate in the exhibition at Bell Centre, home of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.
Patrick Hargreaves, a 39-year-old teacher from Montreal, will play for the Knighthawks while 25-year-old Mark Kirby from Kahnawake suits up for the Rock after impressive showings by the two at a local tryout camp last month.
Hargreaves ranked first at the selection camp in the areas of conditioning, defensive ability and physical strength. The physical education teacher at Mont-De-La Salle High School in Laval was surprised at work with an official team jersey as a CBC television crew captured the moment on camera here.
"I've been waiting, it's a real surprise," Hargreaves said. "I have class in an hour so I'm going to try to teach. I think I'll wear the jersey all day just to show the kids that when they persevere, there is a nice goal to go for."
The two stars of the Quebec Lacrosse Federation were chosen after the Quebec Lacrosse Showcase on Nov. 17 at Le Club West Island in Beaconsfield. Hargreaves and Kirby beat out 33 other members of the Federation for the honor of playing with the pro teams in addition to an outside shot of making their opening night roster.
“Selecting a kid to participate in a game between rivals like us and Toronto is a great chance to showcase our organizations and provide the experience needed to play at this level,” said Knighthawks Assistant GM Landon Miller. "We will always be an organization that steps up to promote the game anywhere. It's not only an organizational mandate. It has cultural importance for myself and [owner] Curt Styres."
The 5-foot-7, 197-pound Kirby has played the last four seasons with the Kahnawake Mohawks of the Quebec Sr. B Lacrosse League (QSLL). The goal scorer is known for his ability to charge the net with both agility and efficiency. Kirby spent his entire junior lacrosse career with Akwesasne, suiting up for three seasons with their Jr. B club before playing his final two years with the Jr. A team.
“My family was encouraging me to go to the camp,” Kirby said. “I didn’t really want to go initially, but the camp was a great experience. Every time I was out there, I went as hard as I could and left it all out there.”
In 2010, Kirby finished second in the QSLL in goals and third in the league in scoring after posting 104 points (53+51) in 22 games.
“I felt pretty good after the camp,” Kirby said. “I hoped it would be Toronto who picked me up and really thought there was a chance it could happen. When I found out [they were] going to pick me up, I was pretty happy to say the least.”
Tickets for the exhibition game between the Knighthawks and Rock on Saturday, Dec. 15 at Bell Centre, home of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, can be purchased online here.