NLL in Toronto is back! After the Toronto Rock dropped their season-opening game on home turf to the New England Blackwolves, Lacrosse has been absent from the floor of Scotiabank Arena; that is until Saturday night when the Rock host the new look Rochester Knighthawks.
The game between the Rock and Knighthawks will feature the most Canadian University alumni of any game so far this season, as 10 former CUFLA athletes are spread among the rosters of the two teams.
Games in Canada’s largest city often hold a lot of meaning for former CUFLA players, as many of them grew up in Toronto and it’s surrounding areas. Unlike west coast teams, there are a lot of players who will go to Canadian universities since the CUFLA schools are all in the eastern provinces.
Toronto has two players from Brock University, but they will not be facing any teammates from that school. However, backup netminder Riley Hutchcraft is set to face former Laurier teammate Tyler Biles.
Biles is the only Laurier athlete on the Knighthawks but is certainly not the only CUFLA alumni on the roster. He is joined by six others, all of whom we will talk about here.
There are six different schools that are represented across the Rochester roster, but not in the way that makes the most sense. There are three former CUFLA teammates who are now Rochester teammates, however, some players played for multiple schools through their time in university competition.
The Guelph Gryphons are the most well-represented school on the Knighthawks, with three players dawning the New York city’s colours. Curtis Knight, Thomas Whitty and Jay Thorimbert all formerly played with Guelph before going into proffesional lacrosse.
Curtis Knight has one of the best names in all of the NLL. It’s almost as though it was meant to be; Knight and Knighthawks just work and it is something that has been working on the floor as well. Knight is in his first season outside of the Saskatchewan/Edmonton Rush organization, after being selected in the expansion draft this past offseason. The Oshawa, Ontario boy has spent his six-year career in the Rush organization and had many successful offensive seasons. His career-high game in 2014, the last year in Edmonton where he put up 72 points (35G,37A). While that maybe his career-high, he has consistently scored above 40 points in all of his other seasons. The former Gryphon has not missed a beat at the start of the 2018-19 season, already having posted seven points through four games.
Knight is joined by fellow alumnus Jay Thormbert, who has had a very different NLL tenure than his teammate. Rather than playing for a single team until joining Rochester, he has spent time in five different organizations, one of which is the Toronto Rock just last season. While he only spent 16 games defending the Rock’s net, he became a familiar local face in the red and blue. Having now joined the expansion side, he is settling into yet another NLL team, something he has become used to throughout his time in the league.
The last player from Guelph is Thomas Whitty, who is in his first season of proffesional lacrosse after being selected in the third round of the NLL draft. In his last season with the Guelph Gryphons, he put up 15 points, good for sixth on the team. While he has not scored yet in his first three games of pro lacrosse, the St. Catherines native will hope to put his first shot in the back of the net in his home province. He is also the youngest player on the Knighthawks roster and will certainly have family and friends in the stands for his first game north of the 49th parallel.
Saturday will present the return of lacrosse to Toronto, as well as the return of many CUFLA athletes to their home province. However, none will be more prevalent than the trio of former Guelph Gryphons set to grace the Scotiabank Arena turf.