Blogs | 4/19/2011 11:06:28 AM | John Gurtler
| Photo: Bill Wippert|
Congratulations to the Bandits for clinching the East Division title and a home playoff game next weekend vs. Boston.
Congratulations, too, to assistant coach Richie Kilgour for having his jersey retired in a very nice pre-game ceremony on the floor of HSBC Arena.
A very sincere and emotionally moved Kilgour addressed the 17,318 in attendance as if it was a backyard barbeque – in true friendship and appreciation of their support over the years.
That’s Richie Kilgour. As genuine and stand-up guy as you’ll ever meet, his smile is as earnest as his hearty laugh. Never over-the-top, but his enthusiasm endorses his passion for the game.
And congratulations to John Tavares for yet another “hidden ball” play that found netting behind goaltender Anthony Cosmo. The score gave the NLL’s all-time scoring great his 15th 30-plus-goal season.
The nice passive passage with Roger Vyse made you believe Roger had the ball and was going in on attack. But no, it was Tavares with the ball in his webbing all along, and perched on the right point, as if watching high tide, he quickly wound up a shot that caught Cosmo by surprise – as he has done many times before on other goalies.
He certainly had me hook, line and ‘Keyser-Soze’ – the character in the movie “Usual Suspects” that nobody knew until the end, which took everybody by surprise.
I caught a lacrosse mention Sunday afternoon while watching the New York Rangers postgame show when former NHL coach Mike Keenan was talking about how the Rangers should move the puck down in the offensive zone “like lacrosse, the players move around.”
All right, Saturday night’s game, a wobble of a tilt that featured no penalty minutes in the first half, some crazy goal-scoring in the second half and a few messages left at the end.
The Bandits might have got caught looking ahead, and it’s easy to do. And I was right behind the mic promoting the win-win status, indicating “if the Bandits win this – it’s the Eastern Division, and win next – it’s home field advantage throughout.” Looking back, that was a little too much to promote.
Richie Kilgour even peeled my question (promoting) about the win-win status. “Focus on the sixty (the game) in front of you,” said Kilgour. “And even to break it down more, focus on the next shift; don’t start thinking this, that, and championship. All we want is your focus on 60 minutes on Boston (last Saturday night). What happens after that, we’ll figure what we’re doing against Rochester. But all we can do is worry about tonight (last Saturday). Come with the right attitude that they’ve brought all year and just go out and play Bandit Ball and see where we end up.”
Now that the home playoff opponent, Boston, is officially set, it’s back to work in preparation of Saturday’s regular season finale against Rochester and then the Blazers. Two teams that are just starting to play well, so even more of a focus to pay attention to the “60” ahead.
Back to the congratulations list: Tracey Kelusky for his 10th 20-plus-goal season. Mark Steenhuis for earning his 600th career point with two assists last Saturday night. And Brandon Francis for his goal-assist-fight performance, equivalent to hockey’s Gordie Howe hat rick but we’ll just call it a “Brando-trick.”
Most importantly, congratulations to Banditland for continuing to lead the NLL in attendance with a 16, 868 average and one regular season game to go. Pack the House II is Saturday with 300 level tickets half-off. Just use/mention ‘Bandits.’
Versus will replay the Bandits vs. Knighthawks game this Sunday at 4 p.m. There will be no Time Warner Television Sports Net coverage Saturday night. Radio coverage will be on KB 1520 AM with the pre-game show set for 7 p.m., followed by face-off at 7:30 p.m.