We’re a few hours away from crowning a 2013 Champion’s Cup winner and it couldn’t be any closer of a matchup between the Rochester Knighthawks and the Washington Stealth. It’s a rare full circle meeting as these two teams squared off in the season opener (a 13-12 win for the Stealth) and will now cap one of the best National Lacrosse League seasons in recent memory.
This week on the Off the Crossebar Podcast , we talked to the two head coaches who will be dueling in the mental chess match in hopes of doing all the right things in leading their team to the holy grail of professional lacrosse. Mike Hasen is looking for his second league title in as many years while Chris Hall is looking to add his third championship as the Stealth make their third trip in four years. Both men are incredible lacrosse minds and are very focused on the task at hand but both are quick to tip their hats to the other team on their successes.
If you compare the two squads there isn’t much difference from top to bottom. There could be an edge to the Knighthawks on transition defense, to the Stealth in the face-off circle and transition offense but after that it’s a dead heat which could make the coaching battle the key factor in this game. The ability to change your lines, your powerplay, your goalie, your strategy as the momentum of the game goes on is what could very well decide this game.
It may be a journalist’s crutch question but we often set ourselves up for very cliche answers when we ask players and coaches what their team needs to do in order to win. Answers range from play a full 60, stay out of the box, play within ourselves and outwork the other team. Pretty standard in the cliche sports answers 101 handbook. Well, Washington Stealth head coach Chris Hall took it to an even simpler level when asked what the Stealth need to do to dethrone the defending champs, “we just have to score one more goal then they do.” It’s that simple.
Hall is tactician always looking for a way to change the game’s momentum or to keep his team rolling; one of the most intelligent lacrosse minds to grace the National Lacrosse League and his resume speaks for itself. However, after last year, the entire organization feels it has some redemption after falling from grace. After back to back Champion’s Cup final appearances, where they went 50%, the Stealth missed out completely on the post-season. While he doesn’t admit it openly, Hall wears some of that on his shoulders due to his health issues that cost him to miss much of last year and watch from home. The 2013 team has been healthy and everything seems to going their way; with just one more game to, the Stealth are that close to going from worst to first.
His counterpart, Mike Hasen is relatively new in relation to Hall’s tenure but his talents aren’t anything to smirk at. As player and a coach he’s won Mann Cups and Champion’s Cup, so he must be doing something right. The former captain of the Hawks bleeds purple and teal and knows what it takes to win at this level. After everything his team went through last year, this year has been a little less stressful but an 0-3 start to the season had to have him scratching his head a bit. However, the veteran leadership within the Rochester locker room has been a huge driving force to this team turning things around and believing they can be the first repeat champs since the Toronto Rock in 2002 and 2003.
From goaltending to the offense these two teams match up very well, in the two matchups this year they split 13-12 in Week 1 to Washington and Week 5, 7-6 for Rochester. Could we see the first every OT Champion’s Cup final? It would only be fitting.
So this week on the OTCB Podcast, let’s see what the coaches have to say as they prepare for the biggest game of the year!
This past Tuesday on the Off the Crossebar Radio show on TEAM 1410am in Vancouver we spoke with two guys who have been on different paths to stardom in the NLL. As good as he has been, will be and currently is, it’s still hard to believe that Dan Dawson has yet to win the big game. Conversely, Matt Beers won one in his first year in the league and is now playing in his third title game in four seasons. Plus as we get closer and closer to the final game of the year, we speak with Jared Harmen from the Langley Events Center and find out the process of bringing the NLL Champions Cup final to BC for the first ever neutral site final.Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.
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