Photos by Jeff Bell and Kyle McBard – UltiPhotos.com
Vancouver announced today the signing of Kirk Savage, Matthew Berezan and Aaron Loach to the 2015 Nighthawks.
In a season which will have a lot of new faces on the field, it’s important to have a strong core of proven veteran performers, and together with the three veterans signed in December, the Nighthawks now have that core.
After more than 20 years of top level ultimate competition, 40-year-old Kirk Savage will definitely be the most experienced O-line handler on the team. After an excellent first season in which he scored 10 goals and 21 assists and completed 260 of 279 passes for a completion rate of over 93 percent, Kirk got off to a great start last year, dominating the disc until he ran into injury problems. In the end he totaled five goals and 20 assists while upping his completion percentage to 94 percent on 235 of 250 passes.
Given his age and injury problems, fitness has been an off-season priority for Savage. He’s been working hard in the gym, has kept careful control of his diet and often plays his other favourite sport, hockey.
“This season my personal goal is to be more effective, maybe a little quicker, and I am also looking to fine-tune my throwing,” said Savage. “I also hope to provide some stronger defensive play as that is an area of my game that can certainly improve. I would love to see us return to the finals again this year and see if we can redeem ourselves by winning the championship.”
After a quiet first season in which he totalled 11 goals and three assists, O-line cutter Matthew Berezan upped his game last year, becoming an ever more important member of the Nighthawks’ high-scoring O-line as the season wore on, and in the end racked up 15 goals, 12 assists, and seven defensive plays.
Between MLU and club play, the ultimate season takes up nine months a year, which means the players have to make good use of the few months off from competition.
“This offseason I’ve been focusing of getting healthy and rehabbing,” said Berezan. “It’s important to use this time to address the wear and tear we accumulate thought the rest of the year.”
“I’m really looking forward to taking the field with Bobo, Morgan, Brendo, Savvy and Loach again. These guys are great teammates who push and inspire me to be better in all that I do. I’m also excited to see who some of the new faces on the team will be this year. Vancouver has such a deep talent pool that you never know who the next rising star will be!”
O-line cutter Aaron Loach does not receive the kudos of some of his teammates, but he works incredibly hard on and off the field, and his even-keeled demeanour sets a necessary tone to offset some of his more volatile teammates.
That consistency shows in Loach’s stats. During the 2013 season he was the fifth leading scorer on the Nighthawks with 13 goals and 12 assists, while in 2014 he was the third leading scorer with nine goals and 20 assists, as the arrival of goal machine Brendan Wong meant his passing was more needed than his goal-scoring.
“This offseason I’ve been focusing on rehab and getting back into shape,” said Loach. “Unfortunately, I had to take the fall off due to some knee issues. I’ve been very patient with it even while working incredibly hard to get back into fighting shape for 2015.”
“After taking the fall off, I am just looking to play again, on the way, I hope, to getting the chance to play in the MLU Finals again this year.”
Vancouver has now signed six players from last year’s team, many of which are veteran leaders eager to add a championship to their lists of ultimate frisbee achievements.
“I am very excited to be back with the Nighthawks,” said Savage. “The organization, the staff and the fans are all first rate and I expect the season will be an exciting one. I am impressed with the early signings that the Hawks have made this year; lots of speed, height and athleticism. I am excited to compete alongside players of this calibre!”
Nighthawks season tickets are on sale until January 31 at 10 percent off the regular price. To order tickets or get more info on this and other great deals, click here.