After 18 seasons and seven different teams, few things surprise Rush forward Dan Dawson, including playing old teammates.
Dawson and the Rush (11-2) take on the Rochester Knighthawks (6-7) on Saturday at Sasktel Centre with some extra fuel for a home victory. The Knighthawks are one of two teams to beat the Rush this season, when Dawson and his former mates beat the Rush 16-11.
“I’ve played for a lot of teams, but I’ve only had this situation happen once before when I got traded from Philadelphia to Rochester,” Dawson said about playing against his old team.
What’s different this time around is the legacy he left in Rochester. Dawson highlighted his six seasons (his most with any NLL franchise) with the Knighthawks by winning two championships and cementing himself as one of the sport’s greatest players.
“You obviously want to show well against your old team, but honestly – this isn’t just a clichè – It’s just another game,” he said. “There’s no bad blood between me and Rochester. I’m very thankful for my time there.”
It also allows Dawson a chance to flare up a sibling rivalry with his brother Paul, who he shared parts of nine seasons with before being traded to Saskatchewan for two draft picks.
“It’s definitely going to be a little different playing against my brother, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Returning to Sasktel Centre on Saturday is part two of the redemption tour. Last week, Saskatchewan avenged its Jan. 15 loss to Buffalo with a 16-10 victory over the Bandits. Dawson feels that will give the team some extra motivation.
“Losing to Rochester, it’s going to light a fire under the belly’s in our dressing room because we want to rectify the situation there,” he said. “We’re trying to battle and solidify the first seed in the west and get a first-round bye and home floor throughout the playoffs.”
Playing on the other side of the matchup gives Dawson some extra insight into how the opposition prepares for a game against the league leaders.
“You don’t want to play into the track and field meet with Saskatchewan. They have got some unbelievable defenders that can really push the ball, so I think Rochester is going to want to dictate the pace,” he said.
Robert Church has been part of that fast pace in the scoring department.
Church is just three goals off of his career high of 37 and is second to teammate Mark Matthews for tops in the league.
Dawson thinks it’s all about the preparation Church puts into each game.
“He’s one of those guys that’s shoot extra shots at practice, getting his reps in and it shows,” Dawson said. “He truly loves the game of lacrosse, he wants to get better and it shows in his play.”