GURT'S BLOG: GIVING IT THEIR ALLBlogs | 5/10/2011 11:08:02 AM | John Gurtler
I think they gave it their all.
Speaking of the Bandits’ 12-11 Eastern Division Final loss to the Toronto Rock.
There are so many could’ve/would-of scenarios from last Saturday night’s game between the two top teams in the National Lacrosse League.
It’s a tough way to lose, closing out a very strong 11-7 20th anniversary year.
The saves, scrambles and hit to the head at the end – it all could have very well ended differently than what has since turned into yesterday’s news.
Dang-it, it does hurt for a while. If you could have seen the expression on the Bandit players’ faces when I went around and shook their hands for a great season, it was a vision of bewilderment and frustration. It just wasn’t supposed to end like it did, with a 12-11 loss.
Regardless of the shockwave from the players’ entrance tunnel to the press box – and eventually witnessed by the fans - at 7:28 p.m. when it was learned that leading scorer and all-time great John Tavares would not play due to injury…
Regardless of Toronto being – what did Rock coach Troy Cordingley call his club in the first quarter? - “possessed”…
Regardless of the Bandits spotting the Rock a 6-0 lead…
That’s just the way the game goes sometimes.
It’s a game of runs, and Toronto was following the patterns and connecting on its shots.
But, and I might be in the minority in thinking this and you can call me a shill if you must, the Bandits played a pretty decent game, considering the ebb and flow, save the unfortunate turnovers that resulted in goals.
And that’s what makes a single-elimination playoff game so exciting. One crack in the saucer can ruin the set.
I don’t know if you had a chance to see the Bandits/Rock replay on Versus on Sunday (5/8) – or have yet to watch it from your DVR – but it was really an exciting game, save the high-sticking calls on Clay Hill and Chad Culp, the phony over-and-back charge and the like. But that’s neither here or there.
The Bandits were not finding twine on the shots, and give credit to Rock goaltender Bob Watson. He made some good saves, particularly at the end of the second quarter and in the fourth quarter, when the Bandits were throwing everything at Watson, including the jack hammer from the Sabres dressing room.
Yes, the Bandits served up plenty of opportunities, but the Rock survived and moved onto the final.
As they say in sport, “you gotta be good to be lucky.”
Speaking of surviving, the Bandits will be and are better for it. No question this team has quality depth and the additions of Scott Self, Chad Culp and Tracey Kelusky are all the better for another kick at the can next year.
And what about John Tavares? If he is fit, I’m sure he will play; and we all know the quality he brings to the floor and players around him.
It’s just a good nucleus of players who enjoy each other and perform quite well under the game systems employed by the coaching staff.
Highlights of the year? Not in any particular order: Certainly the overtime goal scored by Scott Self Jan. 22, at home, against the Toronto Rock.
The 16-7 win in Philadelphia on Feb. 12 with Mike Thompson turning aside 43 shots.
The four-goal night for John Tavares March 12 in the Bandits’ 12-10 win over Boston.
And I would say as a team, the back-to-back wins in Toronto and Rochester, April 8 and 9.
What was yours?
To the fans, echoing Richie Kilgore’s comments when addressing ‘Banditland’ during his number retirement ceremony, April 16, the greatest in all of sport: Thank you for the support.
Have a good summer and fall. The 2012 season will be here before you know it.