Rochester Knighthawks star forward Dan Dawson won the 2014 NLL Champion's Cup Finals MVP award. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
After an inspiring return from injury, Dan Dawson helped the Rochester Knighthawks to a comeback of their own en route to their league-record third-straight title as 2014 NLL champions. On top of the right to again raise the Champion's Cup, Dawson was also rewarded with the championship series Most Valuable Player award.
In the finale of the NLL East Division Finals against the Buffalo Bandits, Dawson cut through the middle of the floor and took a vicious but clean hit from Bandits enforcer Rory Smith. One of the key cogs in Rochester's offense, Knighthawks nation held their breath as Dawson laid motionless on the turf. Fortunately, Dawson was able to leave the field with assistance from his teammates but did not return for the remainder of the game.
The upper-body injury then forced him to miss the Cup Finals series opener against the Calgary Roughnecks.
"It was obviously hard for me to watch the game in Calgary last week," Dawson said. "But it also puts things in perspective and makes you appreciate the little things in life that can be taken away from you real easily."
With Dawson in Game Two, Rochester matched its seven-goal total from Game One in just the first half of the second game of the series. Dawson, who was the longest-tenured player playing last year's title game without a championship ring, now has some more hardware to go with it.
"Dawson is a big part of our team," said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. "But again, it comes from the 23 guys in our locker room. Dawson controls the pace of the game for us in the offensive end, but it's not on Dawson, it's on everybody, and everybody played their role tonight. We're comfortable at home, we play well at home. We always have."
Knighthawks star forward Cody Jamieson, who led the NLL in scoring this season, won two-straight title game MVP trophies in 2012 & 2013. Jamieson joined Buffalo Bandits legend John Tavares as just the second player in league history to accomplish the feat consecutively. However, with such a balanced offense, 2014 turned out to be Dawson's night in the limelight.
"It's the same thing all year for us," Hasen added. "On any given night, it's going to be one or it's going to be all of them. We needed all of them here tonight. When we get that kind of contribution, we know we're going to win. Tonight was all-around. Hey, that's the way we play."
Dawson posted a game-high seven points (3+4) in Game 2 and assisted on the game-winning goal by Craig Point with under a minute remaining in the subsequent mini-game tiebreaker used to determine the champion.
The 2014 NLL Champion's Cup Finals MVP award is determined by a vote of the league's covering media at the title game along with help from fans on social media.