Nov 8, 2017

33246082016_0c2c82cd32_o (1).jpg(November 8, 2017)… The Rochester Knighthawks received some great news this weekend about one of their top offensive players. After an offseason of training and conditioning, Cory Vitarelli was activated from the injured reserved list. 

On Friday and Saturday, the 32-year-old returned to the team for fitness testing and practice at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) in Six Nations. He arrived in camp leaner and more determined than ever. 

“I am feeling better than last year. I am obviously working toward being 100 percent healthy,” said Vitarelli, who had a lower-body injury last season. “I am taking some steps in the right direction. I am happy and excited to feel better and be at this point heading into the season.”

In his seven seasons in the NLL, the Peterborough, Ontario native has amassed 144 goals and 98 assists in 89 games. He currently ranks seventh all-time in team history in goals. Vitarelli was also a key member of the Knighthawks’ run to an historic three straight Champion’s Cups (2012-14). It was his overtime goal in the 2014 East Division Finals that gave the Knighthawks an opportunity to three-peat.

Vitarelli v Buffalo.jpgA former fifth-round pick of the Knighthawks in the 2006 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft, Vitarelli joined the team in 2011 after wrapping up his hockey career. Following his 13 points in six games that season, he went on to score 20-plus goals the next four straight seasons. 

Knowing something about goal-scoring himself, teammate and former league MVP Dan Dawson had this to say about Vitarelli: “Cory is a pure goal scorer. He is a two-goal per game guy. Those would have been huge last year when he was not in the lineup. I think having him back also opens up some free space for the left side. He is a big body and fantastic in the two-man game.”

In 2017, Vitarelli posted 14 goals and 28 points to finish sixth on the team in both categories. He was automatic last season, recording a point in every game he played as he put together a 13-game point streak from Feb. 3 to March 28. The scrapping 5-foot-11, 230-pound forward was not only a key contributor with the ball, but was equally as impressive without it.

“Cory is an awesome guy to play with. He works off-ball really well,” said Knighthawks forward Kyle Jackson. “In a lot of cases, he’s the guy who was helping me get open for the shots I was fortunate enough to get last year.”

The offense gets a big boost this season with a healthy Vitarelli. Last season, Jackson reaped the rewards of playing alongside “Dogger” by posting 60 points to finish second on the team in that offensive category. 

Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen was impressed with the fitness and compete level of Vitarelli during back-to-back days to kick off camp. He believes it’s a sign of great things to come for one of his most dangerous offensive weapons.

“They’re all special players here, but ‘Dogger’ is a special player and one of the better off-ball guys in the league,” said Hasen. “He does a lot of the dirty work and gets KJ (Kyle Jackson) open. He’s also gotten ‘Jammer’ (Cody Jamieson) open for many years. Cory’s healthy this year, so this is going to be a big bounce-back season for him.”

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