Game 1 of his professional career couldn't have gone much better from a personal standpoint for Edmonton Rush rookie Curtis Knight.
With three goals and two assists, Knight's performance was one that not only garnered him kudos from Rush GM/Head Coach Derek Keenan, but also drew enough admiration from around the National Lacrosse League to earn him the NLL's Rookie of the Week honor.
But as a good teammate to the rest of the Rush crew, Knight, while happy with his own efforts, had his happiness quelled by the team's 10-9 setback against the Toronto Rock in the 2013 home-opener last weekend at Rexall Place.
"For myself it definitely went well but it was disappointing to not get the win," said Knight.
"I was nervous at first but after the first couple of shifts I was able to play my game. I definitely didn't expect to get three goals but I'm glad it happened."
It was clear from the start that Knight was going to be an instant force on the Rush power play, and in the end, his entire hat trick came with the man-advantage. And it was also evident that despite only playing one year of junior together there was still plenty of chemistry between Knight - the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft - and No. 1 overall pick Mark Matthews.
"It was a bit surprising the chemistry was there but we've been practicing together for a while and working on the power play together helps," noted Knight, who teamed with Matthews on a Whitby Warriors squad under Keenan's sharp tutelage.
The game's end result, however, was not a good one for the Rush, who now face the unbeaten Washington Stealth in Edmonton's first road game of the season. Knight will need to stay focused on his own game plan, while the Rush as a whole will need to be better in order to keep pace with the early frontrunners in the West Division.
"My plan is to go out and work hard. The biggest thing I've noticed is the pace of the game, and the guys are bigger and faster and the ball moves quicker. So I have to work hard and keep my feet moving. I haven't set any personal goals but I want to help the team offensively and play well enough to get into every game," said Knight.
"I don't think we played a complete game (against Toronto). We came out fast and hard but then it died off late in the second quarter and for all of the second half. We just didn't keep the same pace. Had we done that I think we would have got a couple more goals and held on to win the game."
While there are adjustments to make on the Crystal Glass Field and coming up on the road as well, Knight is fitting in rather well as a newcomer to Edmonton. He and several teammates made the move from Ontario to live in Rush Land, and Knight has taken to his new job as one of the team's ambassadors teaching lacrosse to school kids in the area.
"I love teaching the game and best of all I have a stick in my hand all day."
Getting to know Curtis Knight
You might not know it by looking at him, but Curtis Knight, eighth-overall NLL draft pick in 2012, is a premier offensive threat in the lacrosse world. At only 5-10 and 165 pounds, his presence has been largely overshadowed - literally, when you consider the size difference - by Edmonton's first-overall pick, Mark Matthews.
A 20-year-old native of Oshawa, Ontario, Knight has been active in the past three years with both the Whitby Warriors (Jr. A) box lacrosse team and the University of Guelph Gryphons field lacrosse team.
In Whitby, where Knight played forward, he tallied 48 points in 21 games in 2010, 49 points in 15 games in 2011, and 95 points in 20 games in 2012. Likewise, in Guelph, where Knight played midfield, he managed 8 points in 10 games in 2010, 19 points in nine games in 2011, and 28 points in 11 games in 2012. In addition to his growing offensive excellence, he has not had a season in which he gained more than six PIMs. This ability to stay out of the box and on the field has helped Knight tremendously, and he justifies it by commenting,
"I feel there is hardly ever a reason to take a penalty when playing offence. I just try to play hard and clean."
Despite his gifted offensive nature, Knight considers himself a two-way player.
"I can also play defense and transition the ball. I hope to bring a hard work ethic and some offence to the team."
"I know everyone will be working hard and competing, so I want to be performing at my top level and giving 100 percent."
Awarded MVP in the 2011 Minto Cup, Knight brings an impressive skill set to the Rush, along with invaluable experience under coach Derek Keenan.
"I really enjoyed being coached by Derek, and I learned a lot from him ... I think my past experience will help me adapt quicker to the systems he applies in Edmonton."
Along with his previous connection to Keenan, Knight has also spent time playing in Whitby with Mark Matthews and Rush fifteenth-overall pick Michael Cudmore, which Knight claims "adds to the excitement" of being drafted by Edmonton.
When Knight is not playing lacrosse, he is busy pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Guelph, majoring in Accounting, with the goal of eventually moving on to law school. In his spare time, he enjoys playing cards. Allegedly, he could also beat Mark Matthews in a foot race.
"I'm sure it would be a close one, but I think I could take him [Matthews]."
What Knight lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, scoring ability, and work ethic. He is the kind of player you might fail to notice, unless you are paying close attention; his quiet, humble nature provides the perfect complement for his effortful contributions to any team he plays with, and it shows up on the score sheet. Keep your eye out for Knight this season, as he makes his way through the ranks with the Rush!