The Rochester Knighthawks won the 2012 Champion's Cup, beating the Edmonton Rush 9-6 in the finals. Forward Cody Jamieson figured in eight of Rochester's nine goals, scoring four and assisting on four to earn the game MVP.
Jamieson is back in 2013 and, after a few big offseason moves, the Knighthawks have actually improved their regular-season performance by one win, going from a 7-9 record in 2012 to an even 8-8 this year.
Does this mean the signs are pointing to a repeat performance for the K'Hawks?
Difficult to say.
Starting with Jamieson, the good news is he improved on his performance from 2012. He picked up 89 points this year, which is four better than in 2012.
He also went from seven power-play goals last season to 13 in 2013, significantly improving the Knighthawks' effectiveness with the man advantage. They improved by almost 10 percent as a team to 49.2 percent success.
That success was also aided by the addition of Dan Dawson, who was acquired with his brother Paul in a preseason deal with Philadelphia that sent Paul Rabil to the Wings.
Although Dangerous Dan, a former MVP, had a bit of an off-year by his standards by "only" contributing 75 points, that was good for second-best on the team.
The resurgence of goaltender Matt Vinc was probably the biggest factor in Rochester's success this year.
After an unremarkable 2012 season in which he posted a 12.21 goals-against average and a .753 save percentage—his worst numbers since 2007—he came alive in the 2012 playoffs, cutting his GAA by almost two.
And he carried on with the hot netminding going into 2013. His 10.17 GAA this year was the best in the NLL, and his 662 saves set a new league record.
If Vinc stays hot, the Knighthawks have a shot at beating anyone and winning their second straight championship.
Vinc was aided by a steady defense in front of him, powered by Brad Self and Sid Smith. Self led the team in loose balls, collecting 96 while forcing 13 turnovers. Smith was fourth on the team in loosies with 68 and forced 16 turnovers, tops on the team.
The Knighthawks were just 3-5 at home this year, but two of those three wins were their last two home games. If they can maintain that momentum at home this Saturday against the Philadelphia Wings, it'll take them one step closer to the Big Prize.
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