Mat Giles named assistant coach with Rochester Knighthawks
There are plenty of Lakers connections on the NLL team
Mat Giles returned to the National Lacrosse League and high-level coaching again on Saturday night.
Giles retired from the NLL as a player in 2014 and holds the league record for playing on the most teams at 12. He coached the Peterborough Merit Precision Jr. A Lakers from 2008-15 and the CLax’s Durham Turfdogs in 2015-16. While he’s continued to coach minor lacrosse, Giles always hoped to one day coach in the NLL and was hired as an assistant coach by the expansion Rochester Knighthawks. He joins head coach Mike Hasen, who he played two seasons with in Rochester, and his former Lakers teammate Pat O’Toole, an assistant coach. Knighthawks GM Dan Carey served as an assistant coach to Giles with the Jr. A Lakers. Carey first approached Giles last year to do some scouting for him in preparation for the NLL expansion draft.
“I think he valued my opinion,” said Giles, “and it sort of went from there. When (Hasen) was hired Dan mentioned my name and it all worked out.”
It was exciting for Giles to be back at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena on Saturday even if the game, a 14-4 loss to the Georgia Swarm, didn’t go as desired.
“It’s great to be back with a group of coaches and managers I have playing experience with who you can trust and be honest with in the room,” he said. “I was really excited when Dan talked to me about coming there. Playing with Mike for a few years in Rochester and knowing his demeanour, I was excited to learn from him. Having Patty here in Peterborough, it was a relationship that was always great, his personality in the room and never losing his cool. He was like the older guy when we were a bunch of young hot heads. He kept us cool as a player. Being able to see him do that as a coach is great.”
The Knighthawks are a mix of veterans like Shawn Evans, Turner Evans, Holden Cattoni and Paul Dawson and rookies like Dan Michel, Tyler Gaulton and Doug Utting.
It was tough to know what to expect for the first-year team, but Saturday was an eye-opener.
“If you looked at our lineup on paper, our strongest suit was our offence and obviously we didn’t perform (Saturday) night,” said Giles. “I don’t think going forward that’s us. We will be better but it was eye-opening to play one of the top teams in the NLL and see how big, how fast and how few mistakes they make. It was good for us in a way because it opens eyes for the six to eight rookies we’re going to have in the lineup every night that where we are isn’t good enough.”
Still, it wasn’t the young players who cost them the game, said Giles. He felt the defence and goaltending were respectable.
“We just never found our rhythm offensively. We looked better through camp in scrimmages against other teams. (Saturday) night a lot of it was our older guys trying to do too much and once we started doing that, everything went south.”
Giles said there is really only one expectation for the new team.
“To get better is our only expectation,” he said. “We can’t put a huge emphasis on where we are going. We want to get better each week and keep learning.
“With so many young guys, there is no ceiling on where we can go. We’ve picked a good group of young guys who seem to absorb everything they’re being taught.”
Mat Giles, seen here coaching the Peterborough Merit Precision Jr. A Lakers in 2017, has been hired as an assistant coach with the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League.