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Kevin Rice and Christian Cuccinello Among the Finalists for 2018 MLL Awards

August 8, 2018 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - Atlanta Blaze News Release

KENNESAW - Fresh from the conclusion of the 2018 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) season in which the Atlanta Blaze finished with its best-ever record of 7-7, attackmen Kevin Rice and Christian Cuccinello are among the three finalists for recognition for outstanding performance during the 2018 season. The Second Annual MLL Honors Awards Ceremony, a red carpet-style presentation, will be held Friday, Aug. 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the American Theater in Charleston, S.C. It will be aired live on Lacrosse Sports Network (LSN).

The ceremony will include six individual awards based on performance this season, including the Coca-Cola Most Valuable Player award and the Warrior Offensive Player of the Year with Rice up against the New York Lizards' Rob Pannell and Dallas Rattlers' Jordan Wolf for both. Rice, a graduate of Syracuse University and the Wake Forest University School of Law, finished the season with a team-leading career high of 61 points this season. He has led the Blaze in scoring in each of his three seasons in Atlanta and was one of four players who competed in all 14 of the team's games this season.

Atlanta head coach Liam Banks said that Rice was the leader of the offense and a consistent player throughout the season. "He made sure that he owned his matchup each time and he was the heart of our offense. That is what an MVP is," Banks said.

Cuccinello, a finalist for Cascade Rookie of the Year along with the Denver Outlaws' Chris Cloutier and the Boston Cannons' Trevor Baptiste, appeared in nine games for Atlanta following his graduation from Villanova University. Cuccinello had at least two points in all nine appearances and a total of 17 goals and 11 assists for the season. During the Blaze's playoff push, the season's final five games, Cuccinello had 13 goals and five assists.

"Cucc helped the way that we played offense. We were more versatile when he came into the lineup. He created a lot of slides from opposing defenses and made it easier on the back side for us," Banks said. "If you look at the season he had and the impact he had on our team, he certainly should be considered for the rookie of the year award."

In addition, a new award, the David Huntley Man of the Year Award, also will be presented during the ceremony in memory of the former Atlanta Blaze head coach who passed away in December 2017. The award will be presented to the lacrosse athlete who has demonstrated, "Sportsmanship and professionalism that are beyond reproach" and who "Makes selfless, meaningful contributions to Major League Lacrosse, the game of lacrosse and to his community." The nine nominees for the award will be released Wednesday, Aug. 8.

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