Rochester Knighthawks rookie Matt Hummel made his NLL debut in their win at Colorado last weekend. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)
Rochester Knighthawks rookie transition player Matt Hummel, the 38th overall pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, made his professional lacrosse debut in Rochester's 12-11 road win over the Colorado Mammoth this past weekend.
The fourth-round draft pick out of Kitchener, Ontario was activated off the Injured Reserve List before the game on Saturday. According to Hummel, it was the one of the most exciting moments of his lacrosse career.
“Definitely number one at this point,” he said. “I’ll never forget that game for sure. It was a pretty loud and crazy environment. Going on a two-game losing streak, that was definitely a good game to win and I’m just glad we pulled it out.”
“We wanted a little boost of energy and a boost of speed,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “He’s a guy that has been working real hard, even through his injury. We wanted to reward him a little bit for the work he’s done thus far.”
Playing on the road at Pepsi Center in Denver might be one of the tougher arenas for a rookie to make his debut. Colorado is averaging crowds of over 15,000 per game and “isn’t the easiest place to play,” according to Hasen.
“I got a little nervous at first to be honest,” Hummel said. “You get the butterflies in your stomach. Once I got the first shift out of the way, it sank in that it was just another lacrosse game and you just got to relax. It was definitely a very loud place.”
Hummel began the 2013 season on Rochester’s active roster, but was placed on IR on Jan. 16 with a lower-body injury.
“It was tough [to go on the IR], but you’ve got to do what’s right for the team,” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t in game shape so I didn’t make sense to keep me on [the active roster]. It was disappointing, but I’ve got to understand that’s how it works.”
Playing defense and transition, Hummel was going against two of the NLL’s all-time leading scorers in John Grant, Jr. and Gavin Prout.
“When you’re on the floor in a game situation, all you’re thinking of is doing your part on the defensive side of the floor,” said the 23-year-old. “After sitting on the bench, you kind of realize who you just went up against.”
Coming out of Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania, Hummel was one of 17 players who renounced their remaining years of NCAA lacrosse eligibility to enter their name in the draft. Hummel redshirted his freshman season but was third on his team with 15 goals during his second season. Although it was a tough decision, playing in his first professional game reassured him it was the right one.
“I definitely loved being a part of Mercyhurst,” Hummel said. “But nothing beats playing at the highest level of lacrosse.”
Hasen felt that Hummel, who recovered three loose balls, played well in his NLL debut.
“For the most part, he did his job,” he said. “He got a few big loose balls off faceoffs for us. He used speed to create some scoring chances for other guys.”
Hummel is a young player that Rochester fans can look forward to seeing in a teal and purple sweater.
“We have him penciled in our lineup for years to come,” Hasen said. “He brings a lot of great speed to the floor. It was the first of many. And for the first one, he did okay.”