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Stories/Op-Ed

Return Flight: Hall Carving Out Role With Knighthawks

After a two-year stint in Philadelphia with the Wings, Jordan Hall returned to the Rochester Knighthawks as part of a draft day trade with the New England Black Wolves this past September. And when Hall suited up in teal and purple again on December 6 for a preseason game at the Blue Cross Arena, his return to Rochester was made official.

“It’s great coming back,” said Hall after the preseason game against the Minnesota Swarm. “It’s great seeing an arena that was so full tonight, that was really cool. Loved having everyone come out and supporting.”

Even though the Knighthawks have won three-straight Champion’s Cups, the offseason was more chaotic than fans expected. Gone were Johnny Powless and Joel McCready, both of whom had played significant roles in Rochester making league history last season. When Hall returned to Rochester, the Knighthawks got a player who now has 148 goals and 295 assists for 443 points in 108 career games. He is on pace for 77 points this season, which would be his best scoring season since his second in the league.

His scoring prowess is certainly a big reason why the Knighthawks acquired him. However, it is his all-around game that makes him such a valuable player.

“He’s a fantastic world-class player,” said Knighthawks assistant coach Paul Day in an interview with Knighthawks.com. “We want him to come in and score some goals and make everyone around him better. That’s what he does. He’ll take some pressure off (Dan) Dawson and Cody (Jamieson). He is a great team player.”

“We are really excited to have ‘Hallsy’ back,” defenseman Mike Kirk added to Knighthawks.com. “He is an elite player in this league. He is also a great team guy to have in the dressing room.”

However, getting Hall reacclimated to the Knighthawks offense was not easy at first. Due to work, Hall is unable to practice with Rochester on Wednesdays. As the season has progressed, the chemistry has solidified as evidenced by Hall’s results on the floor. Four out of the last five games, Hall has tallied at least five points.

“I think our offense is starting to hit our stride,” Hall said. “I know that previous games, we’ve only had a few goals. So it was really nice to get above 12 consistently over the last little bit.”

The back-to-back games against the Buffalo Bandits and the Black Wolves last weekend really brought the team together after long bus rides from Buffalo to Connecticut and then back home. Hall played a big role in the Knighthawks’ weekend sweep with three goals and two assists in Buffalo and one goal and five assists against the Black Wolves.

“These are the games you want to play,” Kirk said prior to the weekend doubleheader. “You’re with your team for three days, you’re on the road, you’re bonding. You’ve got lots of lacrosse. You can’t ask for more than that.”

“It’s always nice to hang out with the boys, we spent a lot of time on a bus together,” Hall said. “It’s good for chemistry for sure. You can talk about the games you guys are going in to. Honestly, now that we’re eight games in, we’re hitting close to our halfway point in the season, I think it’s starting to gel a little bit better for us.”

Now with eight games under his belt back with the Knighthawks, the first overall pick from the 2007 NLL Draft has had a bit of a chance to reflect on his return to Rochester.

“Honestly, it’s crazy being back on this team,” Hall said. “It’s such a good team. You’re really just trying to find a role. Some other teams you play on, you might be the guy they look to score a big goal. On this team, there are so many guys that can do that. It’s just about spreading the ball, taking whatever role works for the team, and doing whatever it takes to win.”

In 2014, Hall led the Wings with 76 points while playing in 16 of the team’s 18 games. He was the guy the team looked for in big spots. So has the pressure lessened for Hall in Rochester?

“Yes and no,” Hall said. “Yes in the fact that I know guys like ‘Jammer’ can step up… But the pressure is a little higher because you’re expected to win here. They’ve won three times in a row, so there’s that expectation that if you’re not winning every single game, there’s something wrong. It’s great. I love that expectation. I don’t ever want to go into a game where you’re really concerned if your guys can put it together.

“There’s a lot of guys that would be new in Philadelphia to indoor lacrosse, so you never really know what you were going to get. With a group like this, you’re expected to win. You’re expected to go out and to perform, and you should win if you do that.”

With such a winning tradition, the expectations in Rochester are higher than ever. And Jordan Hall is more than happy to do whatever he can to meet and exceed them.

Story by Jeremy Pike (@KnighthawksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Larry Palumbo.

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