Blogs | 4/17/2013 5:00:34 PM | John Gurtler
“It was a splendid team effort.”
The above quote was from the field reporter who covered the Minnesota Sox in 1892 on the day they snapped their 23-game losing streak. Remember last week on my trip to the St. Paul (Minnesota) Resource Library?
While I don’t want to plagiarize, I relate the same above statement to the Bandits’ performance on Saturday night in Everett, Washington, with a 15-10 victory over the Stealth, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Indeed it was a great effort by the entire team, and that includes Aaron Wilson’s four goals; a seven point night by Mark Steenhuis; five points by Kevin Brownell; and four points from both Shawn Williams and Jordan Critch. The passing and shot selection was good, the defense was solid, and the goaltending was terrific - as Kurtis Wagar made 33 saves in his first official start.
Considering the Bandits have travelled over 10,000 miles in the last month on road trips to Colorado, Minnesota and Washington, the scene for this Saturday’s home game at home against Rochester is, I am happy to say, the most important game of the season. No weariness at all.
I can’t tell you how happy the team was following the game Saturday night - minutes before the strike of 12 Midnight Eastern time - with their victory.
“It wouldn’t be the Bandits if we took the easy way,” said assistant coach Rich Kilgour.
All of a sudden there was confidence and a spring in their step, which started in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Stealth 8-4.
The Bandits seemed to push the ball up the floor better and defend in greater numbers. The final Washington shot tally was pretty light in comparison to the number of saves Wagar was making. It seemed like I was calling save after save by Wagar, especially in the second half.
Regardless, the proverbial piano, gorilla, elephant and rhino were all lifted off the backs of the Bandits.
The fans of Banditland had to feel extra good – with the brain giving shots of dopamine, committing the victory to memory. The unanticipated victory delivered, I am sure, the most pleasure, making the fans feel extra good for the Buffalo win. Unexpected always gives the greatest reward.
Back to home turf and another task at hand: beat the Knighthawks. With a 2-1 regular season series lead over the team from the Button City, the Bandits will come to the floor with confidence, attitude and conviction.
The most common statement in sport this time of year: “win and you’re in.”
Here is the official scenario for the Bandits from the National Lacrosse League: the 6-9 Bandits can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Rochester. The Bandits can also clinch a first-round home playoff game with a win over Rochester AND a Philadelphia loss to Washington. The worst case scenario? Buffalo will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Rochester.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
“Even the coaches have to be mentally tougher,” said Kilgour. “When we get down two or three, we can’t get negative. Runs are going to happen in this game. You might be on the wrong end of a four-goal run. But it’s how you answer to it and that’s the mental toughness that we need the players – and the coaches – to be ready to buckle down. Let’s get the next one and we’ll go from there and not worry so much about the score.
“Just worry about the next five minutes. If you can win five minutes at a time, guess what? After 60 minutes you’re going to be on the right side of the scoreboard. These are all little things we’ve been preaching since the start of the year and hopefully it all comes together for the last two weekends.”
See what a win will do for this club?
There has never been a dull moment when the Bandits and Knighthawks meet. Embarrassed 15-7 by Rochester back in early February on home turf, Buffalo responded in similar fashion the next week in Rochester, which is why this team needs to feed off all the positive results from last Saturday night way up in Everett.
And no need to grip the stick too tight, just make it another splendid event.
Rochester is 4-4 since the last time these two teams met on February 16. They have a powerful quad of forwards in Cody Jamison ( 27+56=83, 7th in the NLL), Dan Dawson (21+50=71, 10th), Cory Vitarelli (25+19=44) and Johnny Powless (22+18=40). Brad Self leads all league defensemen in scoring (9+12=21), and goaltender Matt Vinc sits atop the NLL in save percentage at .806.
Radio coverage of Saturday night’s game starts with the pre-game show at 7 p.m. on News Radio WBEN 930AM/107.7FM. The game will be also be aired nationally on the CBS Sports Television Network. Game time is 7:30 p.m.