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10/01/2013 - 9:53am

By Craig Rybczynski -- The Rochester Knighthawks’ youngest offensive weapon cracked’s Top 50 list Monday, coming in at No. 44. At just 20 years old, Johnny Powless has become a vital member of the back-to-back National Lacrosse League Champion Rochester Knighthawks.

“I was really surprised but it's an honor to be recognized with all the great names on this list,” said Powless, who was the second Knighthawk to be honored. Brad Self was rated No. 49.

It’s no surprise that Powless stands as one of the top players in the NLL, despite his age. Drafted as an 18-year-old in 2011, he has become an offensive force in the NLL in just two seasons. He has amassed 91 points and has two Champion’s Cups to his credit. Last season, he was fourth on the team in points in the regular season and during the playoffs. Three games into his pro career, he showed the lacrosse world he could hang with the league’s best when he scored off a 20-foot backhander to make SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. It was a sign of things to come for the eventual All-Rookie Team member.

“Watching Powless from the stands can be intoxicating, so imagine what it’s like to defend him. He knows how to avoid the damaging hits, and he’s got the lacrosse IQ that can’t be coached. He just knows what to do, and he does it so very well,” said Bob Chavez of

With that lacrosse acumen, the Knighthawks were willing to part ways with All-Star forward Shawn Evans to move up in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft. Rochester grabbed the fifth overall pick from Calgary in exchange for Evans and a first rounder for the right to draft Powless. What the Knighthawks got with Powless was a smooth shooting, creative, dynamic player seasoned behind his years. He was fresh off a two-year run in which he scored 111 goals and added 69 assists for 180 points in just 43 junior games.

“Sick stick skills and the innate lacrosse sense of someone who’s had a stick in his hands his whole life. He’s already really good, and keep in mind, that next year would be his draft year if he hadn’t entered the league early,” said Stephen Stamp of

Powless’ decision to enter the draft and play in the NLL was a blessing for the Knighthawks. Since Powless arrived, Rochester has won back-to-back championships for the first time in team history. He has been a perfect fit with Knighthawks’ offensive stars like Cody Jamieson, Dan Dawson, Mike Accursi, Craig Point, Cory Vitarelli and Stephen Keogh. Yet, he has developed the best chemistry with American Joe Walters.

“When he came into the league at 18 years old, you wondered how he would fare playing against grown men. Not only did he prove that he belonged (in the NLL), but he showed he could be a future superstar,” said Walters. “It has been a great experience playing alongside him and getting to know him on and off the floor.”

The Six Nations star, known as “Pup” to his K-Hawks teammates because of his age, has shown that maturity with his Junior “A” team in the summer. In 2013, he led the Arrows to within one win of advancing to the Minto Cup. In the process, he was named a First Team All-Star, and the winner of the Jim Veltman Award as the Most Outstanding Player and the Dean McIntosh Award as the Junior "A" MVP. Once his junior season was completed, he was able to win a different Cup with the Six Nations. After getting called up by the Major Series Lacrosse Six Nations Chiefs, he helped the team win their first Mann Cup in 17 years.

“It was awesome winning the Mann Cup, but afterward I was looking forward to taking a break and resting. I've been off for a little while now and I'm getting hungrier to play with Rochester as camp gets closer,” said Powless.

That leads us to the upcoming NLL season and the Knighthawks’ drive to become the first team in league history to win the Champion’s Cup three straight seasons. With Powless back for his third season with the Knighthawks, fans should be prepared for more excitement in 2014.

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