Blogs | 2/1/2012 11:14:30 AM | John Gurtler
Interesting game in this brand of NLL indoor lacrosse; never a dull moment. Teams can go on goal scoring runs, racking up five, six, seven straight goals - only to lose. The power play is more important to the game. Players can score empty net goals from the length of the field. Goalies serve major penalties in the penalty box and long-standing statistical records can fall quickly. The “out of the ordinary” happens a lot in this game.
I would say that it was an “out of the ordinary” weekend for the Bandits.
Friday night’s 13-10 loss to the Philadelphia Wings was a tough one for Buffalo. The game was tied nine times throughout and the Bandits played as a unit for most of it, but they went into a wheel-wobbler in the fourth quarter.
A two-goal Bandits lead early in the fourth gave clear indication that they would continue their torrid two-year dominance of putting teams away for good. Philadelphia changed that by rattling in six goals in 11 minutes, breaking the Bandits streak of 16 consecutive wins when leading after three quarters, and changing the post-game mood in the dressing room.
Bandits general manager and head coach Darris Kilgour gave a straightforward review of his troops.
“I thought we got a little too technical instead of just going out and playing,” Kilgour said. “Be the Buffalo Bandits, which is ‘you’re going to pay the price’ when you play us, and we want every team in the league to know it.”
And let’s just forget the Saturday night encounter in Minnesota, where the Bandits lost to the Swarm by a score of 19-11.
After years of Buffalo dominating the Swarm with a 13-2 all-time regular season record, I thought the team from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” played well. Their rookie goaltender, Tyler Carlson, made some nice saves and his outlet passes accounted for five assists. Not a bad night in stopping 39 of Buffalo’s 50 shots – and he didn’t have to go serve time in the penalty box, as Mike Thompson did.
At the end of the half, Thompson merely pushed one of the Swarm players to get him out of the way, but then midfield turned into a battle zone with five fights and a heck of a yardsale of equipment. Having Thompson serve five minutes in the penalty box at the start of the third quarter was very strange.
So, too, was Andrew Suitor’s heave at his own goal line in the closing seconds of the first quarter, the ball floating 188 feet towards an empty Bandits goal, only to cross the two-inch goal line into the net with less than one second left on the clock.
If there was anything positive to take out of Saturday night’s mess, it was the fact that the Bandits saved face by netting six goals in the fourth. You could tell they were trying to work on the basics to jumpstart their lost offense. Even after five players were ejected for their roles in the halftime brawl, and 13 Minnesota power plays, I did not see this team quit.
“Every game, it seems we play good in spurts,” Kilgour said. “That’s the frustrating part. If you can do it on this shift, then you should be able to do it on the next shift. It’s just about communication and understanding your job and doing your own job. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t try and do his job. Just do yours and let everybody else do theirs.”
You would think that the team would be at wits’ end after Saturday night’s game, coupled with Friday’s loss. But, on the flight home on Sunday, it was all about the next game at home against Washington. The two games were already forgotten, save what they learned from them.
This is an interesting game.
Washington comes to town with an 0-3 record, but they have a very strong cast of players in Rhys Duch, Paul Rabil and Lewis Ratcliff. Former Bandits forward Brett Bucktooth makes his return to Buffalo after being signed by the Stealth last week.
Radio coverage of Saturday night’s game starts at 7 p.m. with the pregame show on KB 1520 AM and NLL.com.