The Rochester Rattlers’ 2012 Home Opener is on Friday, June 1 st at 7PM in Sahlen’s Stadium against the defending MLL Champion Boston Cannons. The Rattlers are off to a 1-2 start to the season, but they have been steadily collecting pieces from the NLL Inactive List and the Collegiate Inactive List over the first four weeks of the season. As a result, Rochester will field a full strength roster for the first time this season. The Rattlers will feature 11 new faces that were not on their roster in Week One when the Cannons defeated them 15:3 in both teams’ season opener at Harvard Stadium in Boston.
“We were hurt by the early start to the season with a long NLL Inactive list in April.” Rattlers coach Tim Soudan said. “We also felt like we had one of the better drafts in January, but we were also counting on our draft picks to step in and play right away. We made it through that tough stretch and are now tied with Ohio and Long Island for the last playoff spot. We’re at close to full strength and are ready to make a run from here.”
The Rattlers will be a better defensive team this week after the return of D Joel White from the NLL Inactive List, and the addition of D Mike Manley and M Kevin Drew. White won the 2011 Rattlers Coach’s Choice Award after his rookie season. He was a two-time First Team All-American and a two-time National Champion with the Syracuse Orange. White just won a NLL Championship with the Rochester Knighthawks.
He will be joined by Manley and Drew in the defensive zone. Manley was the Rattlers First Round selection (third overall) in the 2012 MLL Draft. He led the Duke Blue Devils to the NCAA Final Four this spring, and he was named an All-American last season as a junior. Manley was the top rated defensemen in the 2012 Draft, and he had a standout high school career as a local player with Penn Yan Academy. Meanwhile, Drew was a standout defensive middie with the Orange for the last four years.
“This is the most defensive talent we’ve had on our roster this season.” Soudan said. “This week we’re looking forward to adding Joel, Manley, and Drew to a group that has slowly but surely included John Lade, Will Koshansky, Tom Montelli, and Steve DeNaploi.
Rattlers A Kevin Leveille is on the Injured Reserve list for this week, so the attacking burden will once again fall on the shoulders of A Ned Crotty. Crotty was playing in the NLL playoffs so he missed the Rattlers seson opening loss to the Cannons, but he has scored four goals and added two assists in the last two weeks. Last season Crotty was the Rattlers Offensive Player of the Year and their team MVP. He also led MLL in assists, tied for the league lead in points, and was named to the MLL All-Star Game and the All-MLL team for the first time in his career. Crotty has scored at least one point in every game he has played with Rochester. He will be joined by A Steven Boyle, the Rattlers First Round (third overall) selection in the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft, and rookie A Carter Bender (Hartford) in the attack.
The biggest question mark for the Rattlers going into their home opener is in midfield. Rochester has a number of quality options, but needs to figure out the best combination to provide balance and chemistry to the team. Veteran Matt Striebel is a consistent threat from two-point range (3 goals, 2 2-pt goals) while returning Rattlers Marty Cahill (2011 – 16 goals) and Jeff Colburn (2011 – 7 goals, 11 assists) had breakout seasons last year. 2012 new acquisitions Jordan MacIntosh and Dan Hardy join rookie Roy Lang (2 goals) and SSDM Steve DeNapoli and Drew.
The Boston Cannons defeated the Rochester Rattlers 15:3 in the season opener for both teams in Week One. Cannons superstar M Paul Rabil, who leads MLL with 24 points, had three goals and five assists for eight points. A Jake Beebe and A Ari Sussman, a former Rattler, each had four goals while Ryan Boyle added four assists. With a different cast of characters for the Rattlers this weekend, they are hoping for a different outcome.
“Each week we keep developing a more talented team than the one we had the week before.” Soudan said. “That talent keeps gelling together better as a team. The Cannons are the defending champs and have started the season 4-0, but we’re looking forward to the home opener. We think we’re a better team than we were at the end of April, and we are eager to get the chance to show that to a national audience.”
The Rochester Rattlers game on Friday night with the Boston Cannons will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Tickets are on sale for the home opener and the season by calling 585.454.5425 or visiting rochesterrattlers.com.