The Rochester Knigthawks have re-signed forward Cory Vitarelli to a three-year deal. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The two-time defending National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks and highlight-reel goal scorer Cory Vitarelli have agreed to a three-year deal through the 2016 season.
“It feels great,” Vitarelli said. “I’ve had two great years so far and we’ve been very successful, so it’s great to be part of the team again.”
Since joining the Knighthawks late in the 2011 season, Vitarelli is tied with veteran forward Mike Accursi for second in goals scored with 61, and has finished second only to Cody Jamieson with 54 goals over the past two seasons.
“He’s a guy that can get through the middle. He works extremely hard to get his teammates open, and at the same time, has that ability to put the ball in the net himself,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen.
Despite his success, Vitarelli’s name often goes unmentioned, and he has rightfully earned the team’s Unsung Hero Award in 2012 and 2013.
“I think it benefits me as a guy who goes under the radar and is able to chip in here and there with goals that maybe don’t get quite as much recognition,” Vitarelli said. “We’re a unit up there, and to be successful, we all need to sort of chip in at different times.
"If he can keep going that way, I’ll attract the doubles and I’ll dish it to him and he can score the goals,” said Jamieson, a fellow left-handed forward. “I don’t know how the guy puts up the points that he does and he still flies under the radar."
Vitarelli earned a spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays with a diving goal against the Buffalo Bandits on February 9th. That was only one of his four goals against the Bandits that night. He also added a behind-the-back goal between the legs of Buffalo netminder Anthony Cosmo and a cross-crease dive, showing fans just a small sample of his acrobatic scoring ability. It is his wraparound goals from behind the net that have earned him the nickname, “Air Dogger."
“It doesn’t look like it, but he’s got some athletic ability,” Jamieson said. “He’s just a natural goal scorer. He scores goals that he shouldn’t and he puts in the ones that he should. It’s great to have him on the left side with me.”
“He gets the ones that you least expect. He has the knack for finding the back of the net and has a nose to get himself in the right spot to make it happen,” added Hasen.
The Peterborough, Ontario native made his international debut in Team Canada’s exhibition game against the Iroquois Nationals on November 17th. He joined the Dawson brothers and goaltender Matt Vinc in Canada’s 12-11 victory over the Nationals at the Bell Centre in Montreal. His lone goal knotted the game at seven before halftime.
With Rochester’s entire roster returning this season, Vitarelli is confident the offense can build off the positives from 2013 and avoid another slow start in the opening weeks of 2014.
“To have the same guys and basically the same team is nice,” he said. “It’s comforting and nice knowing that we just started hitting our potential at the end of last year…the fact that we’re familiar with each other, we just got to get into the groove.”