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12/18/2012 - 1:25pm

By Craig Rybczynski
(December 18, 2012)…
After pulling off a blockbuster trade and the release of goalie Ian Duffy, the Rochester Knighthawks have moved closer to setting their roster for the 2013 season.

The Knighthawks currently stand at 28 players and will get one final chance to evaluate their team with practice set for Wednesday night. The Knighthawks have to get down to the 23-man active roster by Thursday. The team can also sign three practice players to the roster as well.

“There will be one or two last-chance looks,” said Head Coach Mike Hasen. “We start our season earlier than most teams in the league so we have to get our roster set so we can get ready for January 5th.”

The Knighthawks open the National Lacrosse League season on Saturday, January 5th against the Washington Stealth. The game is the only one scheduled that weekend in the NLL. Rochester enters its 19th season as the defending NLL Champions after completing an incredible run to the franchise’s third NLL title. Having won the championship has made the final player moves that much more difficult.

“This year is tougher because we won with a really good group of guys,” he said. “It’s hard, especially after you have success.

“There are a few tough decisions to be made,” added Hasen. “It’s the direction that Curt (Styres) started and the direction we need to move forward with.”

Styres, who serves as the Knighthawks Owner and General Manager, said roster cut-down day is always difficult.

“It’s never a good day when you are the one making the calls,” said the former NLL Executive and General Manager of the Year. “It’s tough, but I think everyone knows what they are getting into (when they play professional sports).”

Rochester made its biggest roster moves on Friday, pulling off a six player, two draft pick deal with the Philadelphia Wings. That trade sent Paul Rabil, Joel White, Jordan Hall and Robbie Campbell to the Wings in exchange for Dan and Paul Dawson. Dan Dawson notched five points (1+4) in his Rochester preseason debut Saturday, while Paul Dawson earned one assist and added some grit to the defense.

“Paul has excellent defensive skills and provides a safe work place for the other guys on the team,” said Styres of the 6-5, 225-pound defenseman.

Joining Paul is his brother, former NLL MVP Dan Dawson. The 31-year-old enters his 12th season in the NLL eighth on the all-time scoring list. Last season with the Wings, “Dangerous Dan” finished third in the NLL in points (103) and second in assists (78). He was named a First Team All-Pro and finished third in the MVP race. Dawson joins Casey Powell, Mike Accursi, Craig Point, Stephen Keogh and Alex “Kedoh” Hill on the right side of the offense. The left side features Cody Jamieson, Joe Walters, Cory Vitarelli and Johnny Powless.

“We have more guys that can carry the ball. We have two on the right side and two on the left side. With Casey and Dan, the off-ball guys should find themselves open more,” said Styres. “It will spread the offense out a lot.”

Undoubtedly, the Rochester offense has added more firepower to its lineup for the upcoming season. Yet, Styres cautioned against complacency, despite the addition of two former MVPs to his offense.

“Everyone wants to beat the champs because they are trying to prove something,” said Styres. “We have to work harder then we have ever worked before.”

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