New Jersey Storm Travel to Rochester for NLL opener
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - After a 2-1 pre-season record, the New Jersey Storm will officially begin their 2002-2003 National Lacrosse League (NLL) season on Saturday evening against the Rochester Knighthawks at 7:35 p.m. at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY.
The Storm will look to improve on their strong finish last season as they claimed victories in four of their last six contests. In addition, the team will be aiming to advance to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history after adding 11 new players to this year's roster including six starters.
One of those players is perennial NLL scorer Roy Colsey whose 76 points (47G, 29A) last season placed him 15th in total League scoring and fifth in goals. Colsey, who was picked up in an off-season trade with the Buffalo Bandits, will add some size and power to the Storm offense this season.
"We have a little more size and speed on offense this year, that should help make us more competitive," Storm General Manager/Head Coach Jim Brady said.
Joining Colsey on the attack will be last year's top scorer Cam Bomberry with 45 points (17G, 28A), 2001-2002 rookie sensation Scott Stewart (18G, 16A) and Bryan Bendig (16G, 13A) who notched 10 goals and eight assists in just six games as a mid-season acquisition. Rounding out the front five is last years 11th best League scorer Mike Benedict with 82 points (35G, 47A) who recently came over from the Ottawa Rebel.
Despite the loss of last year's League face-off champion Jaime Hanford to the Colorado Mammoth (formerly the Washington Power) the team boasts one of the all-time top League draw men defenseman Gordon Purdie. Purdie, who will be entering his 12th season of professional indoor lacrosse and second with the Storm, will be joined on defense by impressive second-year player Shawn Nadelen. The Plainsboro, NJ resident began last season as a member of the team's practice squad before quickly being moved up the 17-man playing roster and has been a fixture ever since.
Additionally, newly appointed captain Steve Sombrotto (last year's loose ball leader with 90) and assistant captain Paul Talmo will help continue the tough play of the gritty Storm defense. The Storm "D" finished last season ranked as the fifth-best penalty-killing unit with a 50..5 stoppage rate and first in their division in lowest total goals against.
Standing in net again this season will be goaltender Matt Roik, who after a tough start last year came on strongly to finish the season as the second best goalie in the NLL in the Goals Against category (138). In his debut against the Saints last Saturday evening; Roik made 13 saves during his 30 minutes of action. Backing up Roik once again this season will be goaltender Derek General who throughout the pre-season competition has been quite impressive with a number of unbelievable stops. "Derek has just played awesome this pre-season," Brady stated.
Joining the Storm net minders will be Ginny Capicchioni, the first woman in the 17-year history of professional indoor lacrosse to secure a spot on a regular season roster. A former nationally ranked lacrosse goaltender from Sacred Heart University and three-time Northeast Conference "Goalie of the Year" in 1999, 2000 and 2001, Capicchioni played in all three of the Storm's pre-season contests.
The Storm face-off against the highly powered offensive squad of the Rochester Knighthawks, one that features last season's third highest League scorer John Grant with 105 points (52G, 53A).
The Knighthawks are coming off an impressive season last year placing second in their division with a 13-3 record and an eventual 14-10 loss to Albany in the 2001-2002 NLL Champions Cup semi-finals. In addition, the squad has won its last 15 straight home games dating back to the 2000-2001 season.
Joining Grant on the offensive side of the ball is forward Shawn Williams, last year's 16th best League scorer with 75 points (40G, 35A) to his credit. Another key contributor will be the team's third leading scorer forward Derek Malawsky (25G, 47A). Standing in between the pipes for Rochester will be goaltender Pat O'Toole last season's fifth best goalie in NLL with 572 saves and a 12.72 goals against average. Similar to the Storm, Rochester was also tough with their penalty-killing unit finishing fourth with a 50.9 stoppage rate.
Standing behind the Knightawks bench will once again be sixth-year head coach Paul Day who feels that after a great summer workout and mini-camp that his team is ready to go. "(The team) are the fittest we have ever been in my nine years," Day said.
It will be brother versus brother in this match-up as Storm forward Cam Bomberry takes on younger brother Cory Bomberry. The two were teammates for three seasons in Rochester from 1997-1999.
Rochester played just one contest during pre-season competition, defeating the Buffalo Bandits 14-10 at the Blue Cross Arena.
"We are going to try and play our game with a lot of transition, good power plays, and top notch goaltending," Brady stated.
The game will be broadcast live on www.NJ.com with Joe Nolan (play-by-play) and Josh Blumenthal (color commentary) calling all the Storm action.
The Storm will officially open their home schedule on Saturday, January 4 versus Columbus at 7:30 p.m. with the first 2,500 fans receiving a 2002-2002 Storm team poster. Eight-game and four-game season ticket plans and McFamily Plans are on sale now by calling 1-866-NJ STORM. Individual game tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster locations, the Continental Airlines Arena box office, by calling 201-507-8900, or by logging on to Ticketmaster.com.
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