January 4, 2012

Rochester's Vitarelli Ready for Full NLL Season

from press release

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- This time last year, Cory Vitarelli was far from the lacrosse arenas of the National Lacrosse League. In fact, he was 740 miles from Rochester, NY, playing hockey in the maritime city of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Vitarelli was in his final season at the University of Prince Edward Island. While the Knighthawks were battling teams in St. Paul, Boston and Toronto, Vitarelli was taking road trips to places like Moncton; Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Halifax and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Although signing a contract with the Rochester Knighthawks in December, Vitarelli would have to wait until his hockey season was over before joining the NLL team.

The forward recorded 33 points (16+17) in 28 games and helped the Panthers reach the Atlantic Universities Sports men's hockey playoffs. The Knighthawks did not expect the young forward to join the team until April or the NLL Playoffs. Yet, a 1-0 loss to the Acadia Axemen in the quarterfinals ended Vitarelli's fifth season of hockey and allowed the Peterborough, Ontario, native the opportunity to join the Knighthawks.

"It was great to finally make my pro debut last season. I have always wanted to play pro lacrosse but with other things keeping me busy, mainly hockey and school out in Prince Edward Island, I wasn't able to," he said. "So when the time came to suit up for Rochester last year it was a dream come true.

It was a longer wait than just one season for Vitarelli, who originally signed a two-year deal with the Knighthawks on March 25, 2008. But the wait was worth it for Vitarelli and the lacrosse fans of Rochester. On March 26th, he scored two goals and added one assist in his pro debut. His fast start continued with his first professional hat trick on April 2nd. In six games, he scored seven goals and added six assists to complete his first NLL season.

With his hockey career over, the 2012 season has allowed Vitarelli to focus completely on lacrosse. In the summer, he returned to the Peterborough Lakers to prepare for his second season in the NLL and second with the Knighthawks.

"Having an offseason of lacrosse has helped me prepare for the season because it's been my main focus," said Vitarelli. "I haven't had to be focused or distracted by anything else other than school and lacrosse and it's been refreshing and has me ready to go."

Vitarelli has played for the Lakers for the past five seasons and won Mann Cups in 2007 and 2010. In 2010, he finished tied for second in goals with 12. In junior lacrosse, he was a member 2006 Minto Cup Championship team in Peterborough. He played junior lacrosse in the Lakers system from 2001 to 2006 and collected 36 goals and 54 assists in 57 games.

Life as a professional lacrosse player has been exciting for the 26 year old. It has been everything and more for the youngster who grew up watching NLL stars and Peterborough natives like John Grant Jr. and the Evans brothers.

"Pro Lacrosse has been everything I expected. The teams are all very good, there are no bad players, the arenas are amazing, as well as the fans especially here in Rochester," he said. "The travel can be a lot but it's exciting. The way we are treated by our owner, staff, right down to our coaches, is top notch."

With a full training camp and preseason schedule now completed, Vitarelli will prepare for his first season-opening game. The Knighthawks will travel to play the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, January 14th. He and the Knighthawks will open the home portion of their regular season schedule on Saturday, January 21st against the Buffalo Bandits at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena.

"I can't wait to start the season," said Vitarelli. "I'm very excited to see what our team can do and am looking forward to our first game."

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