By: Brayden Peters
BURLINGTON, ONT – It was a special day in the history of the NLL. Eight players and two referees, became the newest inductees into the NLL Hall of Fame. Out of those eight players, six of them were former Rochester Knighthawks. Three of them were members of the legendary 2007 Knighthawks team that went 14-2 and won the Champion’s Cup at home. It was the first time since 2016 that the NLL had new inductees into the Hall of Fame.
Steve Toll and Shawn Williams and Regy Thorpe were the three inductees who won the 2007 Champion’s Cup. The other three former Knighthawks were John Grant Jr., Casey Powell, and Pat McCready. The two other players were Colin Doyle and Kevin Finneran. The two referees that were inducted were Roy Condon and Bill Fox.
Toll has a whole list of awards and records on his name. The fifteen-year St. Catherines native was the first player to win the Transition Player of the Year Award back in 2007. Not only that, but he also won five championships: four with Toronto (1999, 2000, 2002, & 2003) and one with Rochester (2007). Toll is also in the top ten all time in loose-ball recoveries with 1,562 of them in the regular season and an additional 160 in the playoffs. He would not have been able to have as great of a career if it weren’t for a former teammate of his.
“I don’t do what I do unless I had Jim Veltman,” said Toll. “They said, ‘Oh, Steve Toll always left early.’ Well, if you see Jim Veltman going for the ball in the corner for a loose ball, he’s gonna get it. So, I left, and he hit me on a breakaway pass and sometimes I scored, sometimes I didn’t score.”
Williams was key in helping Toll and others win two championships. After seventeen years in the league, he retired as one of the only eight players to have accumulated 1,100 career points. He also finished in the top ten all-time in games played (9th), goals (9th), and assists (7th). He was active when it came to getting loose balls like Toll as back in 2001, he surpassed the 100 loose ball total. Williams was named to All-League First Team in 2004 and Second Team in 2007. He looks back fondly on the 2007 Knighthawks team that he was a part of.
“I think it’s probably one of the best teams ever in the NLL,” said Williams. “We had the perfect amount of talent, personality, character, and love. The love in that dressing room was insurmountable and that got us over a lot of those nitty-gritty wins.”
If there was anyone from the Knighthawks who could play solid defense and throw hands, it would be McCready. In his seventeen years in the NLL, he won three championships: two with Rochester (1997, 2012) and one with Buffalo (2008). Western New York has a special place in his heart.
“I love going down there,” said McCready. “I feel it’s my home, Buffalo especially. It was just an honor to play there.”
He was named Defensive Player of the Year back in 2011 and captained the 2012 Knighthawks first championship under head coach Mike Hasen. After retiring in 2012, he was third all-time for loose ball recoveries, second in penalty minutes, and seventh in games played.
Junior, Powell and Thorpe
Unfortunately, Powell, Grant Jr., and Thorpe were not in attendance for the ceremony, but the three players had remarkable careers. Powell became the only American player to win the MVP award back in 2010. He was an All Star from 2007-2009 and is the all-time leader in points by an American in NLL history. Grant Jr. was named league MVP twice in 2007 and 2012, was named All-League First Team six times and Second Team three times, and in 2012, he set the NLL record for points per game with 8.29. His number 24 is the only jersey retired in Rochester lacrosse. Thorpe holds the Knighthawks franchise record for games played, loose ball recoveries, and penalty minutes both in the regular season and playoffs. He is also eleventh all-time in loose ball recoveries with 966.