Rochester Knighthawks win National Lacrosse League Championship on Strength of Aboriginal Stars
Cody Jamieson certainly did his best to ensure a professional squad with numerous Aboriginal connections captured the National Lacrosse League (NLL) championship.
Jamieson, a Mohawk, scored four goals and added four assists as he led the Rochester Knighthawks to a 9-6 victory over the Edmonton Rush in the NLL final.
The Knighthawks hosted the championship match on May 19 at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena.
Jamieson, one of seven Aboriginal players on the Knighthawks' roster, was selected as the most valuable player in the championship contest. Despite registering eight points, Jamieson didn't think he deserved the MVP award.
"I thought it should have gone to our goalie," he said. "He was unbelievable for us and just stood on his head."
The Knighthawks were outshot 52-35 in the final. Rochester goalie Matt Vinc made 46 saves in the match. Vinc was especially impressive in the second half as he allowed just one goal. Rochester trailed 5-1 at halftime but managed to take control of the game by scoring six unanswered goals in the third quarter.
Like all the other Aboriginal players on the Rochester roster, Jamieson, 24, is from Canada - more specifically the Six Nations community of Ohsweken.
These players are Johnny Powless, Craig Point, Sid Smith, Jake Henhawk, Travis Hill and Alex Hill.
"We all grew up together," Jamieson said. "It feels so good to win it with so many good friends."
Powless, a Knighthawks' rookie who was recently named as the NLL's most sportsmanlike player, also contributed offensively in the championship final. He scored two goals and added an assist. Point was credited with two assists in the game. Smith, a defender, and Henhawk, the club's backup goalie, also dressed for the final.
Travis Hill and Alex Hill were not among the 20 players that Rochester suited up for the match. The Knighthawks' organization also has plenty of other Aboriginal connections.
Curt Styres, also from Ohsweken, is the team's owner and general manager. He bought the club in the summer of 2008, becoming the first Aboriginal to own a professional sports club in North America.
Other members of the Knighthawks' staff from Six Nations include president Lewis Staats and assistant coach Jason Johnson. Also, Johnson's wife Tracy is the club's director of lacrosse operations.
Also, former National Hockey League player and coach Ted Nolan, an Ojibwe from Ontario's Garden River First Nation, is a special advisor to the team's president.
The fact the Knighthawks managed to win the NLL championship this season was a bit of surprise for some. The club had a losing record, 7-9, in regular season action.
Despite its sub .500 mark, Rochester finished in a three-way tie for second place in the league's four-team East Division.
All four of the squads in the East Division and four out of the five West Division entrants advanced to the post-season.
"We knew we had to get into the playoffs," Jamieson said. "And from there anything can happen. We peaked at the right time."
Rochester kicked off its post-season edging the Philadelphia Wings 14-13 in their East semi-final contest. The Knighthawks then qualified for the championship match by upsetting the defending league champion Toronto Rock 17-13 in the East final.
The NLL title was the first one Jamieson has won in the pro ranks. But he has won a pair of other rather impressive championships as well.
In 2007 he was a member of the Six Nations Arrows who captured the Minto Cup, annually awarded to the top Junior A box lacrosse team in Canada.
And in 2009 he won the NCAA men's field lacrosse championship with Syracuse University. Though the NLL season is now over, Jamieson will not be taking a break. He'll be playing for a pair of clubs this spring and summer.
He's a member of the Hamilton Nationals, a pro field lacrosse squad that participates in the Major Lacrosse League.
And he will also play for the Six Nations Chiefs, a Senior box lacrosse team that competes in the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse.