Blogs | 1/18/2010 12:08:06 PM | John Gurtler
Something hit me while driving to the arena Saturday night in preparation for the rubber-match of the Bandits and Knighthawks; I sure enjoy what I do. And I enjoy the pre-game presence of the environment itself.
The security of the parking lot and assignments, the initial buildings entrance screening, the validation of your person, team credentials and inspection of your items in your satchel. But most of all, it’s the in-arena pre-game walk towards the Bandits dressing room and temporary domain.
The internal security checkpoints, met by a familiar usher faces with confirming smiles, confident of your position with the team. The smell of recently cleaned corridors and rooms, the hallway floors and tributaries are spotless, reflecting the animated image of Mr. Clean. As the Bandits section of the hallway becomes more predominate, perfectly placed equipment cases and temporary tables reflect what I am sure is to a motor-sports racing team pit row; every item supportive of NLL play from straps to jerseys to helmets, to team personnel water bottles and tape – all perfectly pitched in position as if it were going to receive a five-star general inspection.
And the Bandits room itself stands at a pre-game attention, waiting to be received by the players, with the carpet striped from vacuum machine marks, jerseys hung neatly in front of each Bandit locker stall and folding chairs in front of each awaiting the players in preparation of battle.
The medical training facility, temporary Mash type setups in one of the arena rooms, a short walk from the permanent Bandit dressing room. Everything all neatly and precisely placed and ready as if it were the 40-77 unit. Coupled with the newness of the Bandits playing surface, the new game boards and glass, the culmination of the pre-game jaunt and view was complete. It’s a fact: everybody else, too, enjoys what they do on this game night.
Speaking of like – I like this 2010 Bandit team and the talent it possesses. Granted, I am not going to bring former ABC News Nightline boss, Ted Koppel, into this for the prelude jingle “DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH – What’s wrong with the Bandits” and harp upon the negative. No, it’s more the approach to find out how this team responds to their current 0-2 record, and I will begin with a quote I have used before.
In recognition of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, on what was to of been his 81st birthday Monday, January 18th, the relevancy of it all: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Leading the measure is Mike Accursi. The 13-year pro represents the pride, passion and sincerity of the team. But I would say most on the Bandits roster have this background capability. With day jobs during the week, the perils of responsibility, decision-making and personal improvement permeate their well-being. They all seem custom to challenge and possess the knowledge to teach others to respond and repel.
Accursi represents very well.
Already out of the gate with two goals and four assists, including going 1-4=5 Saturday night in their 13-11 loss to Rochester. Accursi has the talent and experience to handle this time of Bandit controversy. And he feels this team posses the character to respond.
“We had a real veteran team (last year), a lot of guys who had been here a long time,” said Accursi. “You infuse some new blood and new talent into the team, it may have had a different approach in what we would have had last year. I think last year, we would have probably been even more frustrated coming into this week. (This year’s team) This week (we said), OK, it’s a new beginning for us. We are here in front of our own fans; we want to perform for them, I think that is going to bring our tempo up and bring our spirits up tonight (Saturday).”
And you could tell that from the opening face-off of last Saturday’s game, taking a 3-0 lead seven and half minutes into the first frame. The defense again played well, leaving the opponent a bit dazed with their physical prowess, trying to eliminate time and space from some of the top Hawk guns. And yes, they forced a few Knighthawks back to their bench to do a “Snickers check” and uniform adjustment.
Kenny Montour made several key saves but he wasn’t peppered like the previous Saturday night. With 19 Bandit scoring assists handed out Saturday night, you could tell there was more teamwork and despite some lost connections at point-blank scoring range, the timing is starting sync with all the five in attack mode.
The power play was a good option going 3 for 9. But you could see the ebb and flow of the game started to weave at the 7:34 mark of the first quarter, following Mark Steenhuis’s goal and the punching bum-rush that resulted in balancing the penalty box residency with four players aside with majors and minors. Too, it didn’t help Ian Lord was assessed 24 minutes in penalties :31-seconds later, including “your done for the night” heave-hoe.
And the Bandits kept playing like a band of brothers.
“You know what, it’s a special group of guys,” noted Accusi, who himself had a special moment last month in carrying the Olympic torch through St. Catherine’s. “ I have played on lots of other teams, but it seems like who ever comes in (to the Bandits), whether there new or they are returning, guys have pretty open arms; it’s a pretty good team for joking around and doing a lot of practical jokes and stuff like that. We had a good time (in training camp), got the rookies out, took them out, and had some fun with them. It’s just a great group of guys and I think anybody that comes here will tell you that this is a special place to play.”
And to find out what type of character during this challenge, first you have to like what you do. And from my overall perspective and feelings, pre-game to post, yes, we all do. And the Bandit players will get through this.