The owner of the Rochester Knighthawks masterminded a roster that won the NLL championship on Saturday with a dramatic come-from-behind 9-6 victory over Edmonton at the Blue Cross Arena in front of 9,227 fans.
Curt Styres knows, and loves, his lacrosse.
The owner of the Rochester Knighthawks made some trades last off-season that angered many fans - however, the man obviously knows his business.
“This championship is one that we started dreaming of years ago,” Styres said on the Blue Cross Arena floor after the Knighthawks stormed back to beat Edmonton, 9-6, and claim the title on Saturday night.
We dreamed about being here and having an opportunity to win the champions cup. We work hard as a family, we got our chance tonight and we pulled it off.
“With help from the fans, our families, the players, it’s such a great feeling to be here, such a privilege.”
In a youth movement, the key trade that brought all-star goalie Matt Vinc to the K-hawks cost the team its leading scorer, and fan-favorite, John Grant Jr., who was sent to the Colorado Mammoth.
“There are so many great players around, and a lot of people had a great season,” said Styres. “Congrats to everybody that plays the great sport of lacrosse.”
Vinc was happy to come to Rochester from Colorado.
“Hopefully (the championship) will ease any pain the fans may have from the trade,” Vinc said with a smile. “Anytime you trade player of the caliber of a John Grant Jr., it’s going to be difficult. He was (league) MVP this year. I’m just appreciative of the support I have had here.
“It’s unreal, probably the loudest building I’ve ever played in tonight. For a pretty young team, we looked pretty mature in the third quarter (with six goals). The season really steamrolled in the finals. Even though we’re young, we have a lot of veteran leadership that carried us through to win.”
Though the Knighthawks struggled in the regular season with a 7-9 record, they did tie the Philadelphia Wings and Buffalo Bandits for second place behind the Toronto Rock in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) East Division.
“When everybody was down on us, we didn’t doubt a thing,” said Cody Jamieson. “I think they’ve got to trust the man and believe he knows what he’s talking about because he put one heck of a team together.”
And despite gaining the finals, and the honor to be host for the NLL championship game when the Edmonton Rush upset the Minnesota Swarm in the West Division final, the doubters still had reason to doubt as the K-hawks trailed the Rush, 5-1, at halftime.
Rochester was outshot 31 to 11 in the first 30 minutes of play, and except for the goaltending of Vinc, the deficit may have been even greater.
Page 2 of 2 - But all that changed in the second half.
The Knighthawks went on a 7-0 run, holding the Rush scoreless in the third quarter and allowing just one goal in the fourth.
Jamieson, Styres' nephew, led the charge with three goals and four assists in the second half.
“I know what (Curt) is capable of doing,” Jamieson said. “He loves the game. He has such a passion for it. He’s not going to steer anybody wrong.
“This (the championship) is a testament to what he did, obviously.”
Jamieson also netted the lone K-hawk goal in the first half as he finished the game with eight points.
Rochester stormed back to win its third NLL championship in franchise history with a 9-6 victory.
“We stuck with the game plan,” Jamieson said. “We didn’t change a thing. We put the ball away in the net, the way it should be.”
It marked the first title for Styres in his four-year ownership, and the first for the franchise since 2007.
Irondequoit native Joe Walters, also in his fourth season with the K-hawks, picked up three assists in the title match and finished second behind Jamieson in points for the playoffs with 13. Jamieson’s eight-point effort upped his total to 17 points.
“Curt is a man with a mission,” Walters said. “He’s got a plan in his head, and he wasn’t always the most popular, but it worked out.
“I’m proud that we stuck with it, and I’m happy to be a part of this team.”
The only other time Rochester played host to the title game, the Knighthawks lost to Toronto, 8-6, in 2003.