Rochester Knighthawks re­lo­cat­ing to Halifax

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS-EX­AM­INER STAFF

HALIFAX — The Na­tional Lacrosse League is com­ing to Halifax.

The NLL an­nounced Thurs­day that the Rochester Knighthawks, fea­tur­ing sev­eral play­ers from Peterborough and the Peterborough Cen­tury 21 Lak­ers, will be re­lo­cat­ing to Halifax, be­com­ing the league’s fifth Cana­dian fran­chise.

Peterborough’s Cory Vitarelli, Josh Currier, Jake Withers, Eric Shewell and Cam Mil­li­gan are on the Knighthawks ros­ter, along with Peterborough Lak­ers vet­eran goalie Matt Vinc. Lak­ers head coach Mike Hasen is also the long­time head coach of the Knighthawks.

Curt Styres, the NLL’s 2017-18 gen­eral man­ager of the year and owner of the Knighthawks, ap­plied to re­lo­cate his team and re­ceived ap­proval from the league’s board of gov­er­nors.

“We had been look­ing for a new home for the Rochester Knighthawks for awhile, but it had to be the right fit. We looked at cities across North Amer­ica, and none of them com­pared to Halifax,” Styres said.

NLL com­mis­sioner Nick Sakiewicz said Halifax is an ideal lo­ca­tion for the league’s next Cana­dian team.

“We ab­so­lutely fell in love in­stantly with your pas­sion, your warmth and your true Mar­itime grit — we love that about it,” said Sakiewicz, flanked by a wall of TV screens flash­ing lacrosse game high­lights.

“We firmly be­lieve this trend is go­ing to con­tinue. We have more teams com­ing. I think over the next decade to 12 years, you’re go­ing to see a 30-team league emerge in one of the most dy­nam­ics sports in North Amer­ica.”

Sakiewicz praised Styres for be­ing a “tremen­dous busi­ness­man” and for his track record as an owner — his teams have won three NLL cham­pi­ons.

“Curt Styres is the em­bod­i­ment of bluechip own­er­ship and what you look for in an owner,” he said.

The Knighthawks are one of the char­ter fran­chises of the NLL.

Ear­lier reports sug­gested the Knighthawks would be pur­chased by Buf­falobased Peg­ula Sports and En­ter­tain­ment, but in­stead Peg­ula will es­tab­lish a new team in Rochester, N.Y.

The com­pany, which owns the NFL’s Buf­falo Bills, NHL’s Buf­falo Sabres and the NLL’s Buf­falo Ban­dits, among other prop­er­ties, an­nounced later Thurs­day that they had been ap­proved to run a new team based out of Blue Cross Arena start­ing with the 2019-20 sea­son.

The Knighthawks were crowned East Divi­sion cham­pi­ons last sea­son and ad­vanced to the fran­chise’s first NLL fi­nal since 2014. They lost to the Saskatchewan Rush in three games.

Halifax’s team will be­gin play dur­ing the 2019-20 sea­son at Sco­tia­bank Cen­tre, with many of the play­ers on the cur­rent Knighthawks’ ros­ter.

Sakiewicz said a name has not yet been cho­sen for the team. But he ac­knowl­edged the Pri­va­teers “may be one of the op­tions.”

The NLL has 11 fran­chises play­ing in the 2018-19 sea­son in­clud­ing four Cana­dian teams in Toronto, Saska­toon, Cal­gary and Van­cou­ver. The San Diego Seals and Philadel­phia Wings will start play­ing in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son this De­cem­ber.

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Saskatchewan Rush for­ward Ben McIn­tosh dives past Rochester Knighthawks de­fence Eric Shewell, of Peterborough, to score on Lak­ers goalie Matt Vinc, in the NLL fi­nals in Saska­toon on June 9.

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