Blogs | 5/9/2009 3:45:41 PM | John Gurtler
A Denver native, John Gurtler has been the voice of the Buffalo Bandits the past six seasons. Gurtler has also done play-by-play with the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres and has served as the stadium voice for the Buffalo Bills. Gurtler will share his thoughts and unique perspective each week with Bandits fans.
How was that for a turnaround? Right down to a "few moments."
Call Saturday's semi-final game against Boston what you want, it was a good game. It was a game that necessitated the Bandits to dig deep and play like a team; believe in each other.
Going into the fourth quarter, I could sense that confidence from each player on the playing roster. And for those of you at the game, you certainly could see it in goaltender Kenny Montour. Did he make the save of the year in the second half or what?
There were many changing moments in the game last Saturday night, from the stack of Boston power plays to Kyle Schmelze's goal, making it 4-1.
But Boston moved in strange ways with their crisp passing and playmaking where goals were scored with good positioning and relentless second shots from rebounds and loose balls.
The Bandits adjusted and disrupted the Blazers' flow, making many pay a hefty price from a check across the middle or into the boards.
The only goal that was scored in the third quarter off Daryl Veltman's stick followed from a flurry of shots and Montour could only stop so many. And he stopped plenty. And the Bandits went 19:16 between goals
But the Bandits were the better team last Saturday night - and it's the playoffs where every stride, shot and hit is turned up a notch. Too, the Bandits have more talent, tenacity and spirit.
Rich Kilgour, the captain, puts the last two weeks into perspective in preparing for the playoffs.
"We had that great start, 7-1, and then I think we got a little complacent. (And from the end of the regular season loss to Boston) Darris broke out the game tape and film don't lie," said Kilgour. "After that film session (couple of weeks ago) I think everyone said I can do more."
We had a great spirited practice after that film session - and it took Darris and hour and a half to get through the first quarter. Everyone got undressed, but it was good. I think it was something we needed and it refocused everyone, and now we should be ready. I like where we are and I have a good feeling."
And after Saturday's exam, the Bandits now prepare for their next final: The New York Titans. But it does not come without caution.
"We've been a really inconsistent team," noted GM and coach Darris Kilgour. "When guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder, we are pretty much unbeatable. But when guys sort of feel like yeah someone else will do it tonight or this isn’t that important or what ever the reasoning is.
"When we don’t play a full 60-minutes, teams can stay with us and anything can happen going into the fourth (quarter). I had some stats for them over the last half of the season that weren’t too flattering.
"Offensively, the second half has just been brutal for us. Defensively one quarter out of every game has just been brutal for us. We have to eliminate those runs, we have to play a full consistent 60-minutes of good hard nose lacrosse. If we can do that, I feel confident we can beat any team in the league. If we don't do that anything can happen in the fourth quarter.
"We definitely sent a message to the guys; there is no more screwing around. I think the guys got it. Hopefully that is a lesson they learned from the second half of the season, and they don't make the same mistakes in the playoffs."
Titans, too, are a good team with a significant amount of field players with tremendous athleticism. Their depth is much stronger than Boston with Casey Powell the top offensive player, mixing well with Brendon Mundorf , Jordon Hall and Ryan Boyle. Defense is good and goaltending stellar with Matt Vinc -.835 save percentage and 9.00 goals-against in the two Bandit wins this season.
Bandits and Titans match-up with identical records, 10-6, both teams 5-3 home and away; pretty much the same power play and penalty kill; shots for and exactly shots against. Even the penalty minute averages during the season the same.
Yes, a great match-up Saturday night in the Prudential Center.
Pre-game show starts at 7 p.m., Saturday night, on KB 1520.
Who said that about a "few moments? It was, Bud Fox, who played the stockbroker in the movie "Wall Street." He said:
"Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them."