GURT'S BLOG: ONE DOWN, 17 TO GO
Blogs | 1/2/2014 2:17:40 PM | John Gurtler

We’ve all experienced expectations that might be over the top. You know, when you’re planning an outing or getting ready for a big event and you really feel good about what’s in store. All of the anticipated excitement and thinking ahead, it’s all just going to be great.

And then totally the opposite happens. It wasn’t as much fun and you were more exhausted at the end, with nothing to note other than the obligatory, “Yeah, it was okay.”

I must admit, I got caught up in the Bandits first game of the new season. My expectations were nothing but positive, as they should be, but a little more bipartisan attitude could have been in the mix.

Not that I got caught up in it, but I wanted – and was looking forward to – a different outcome.

One game does not make a season. The talent and attitude on this roster is far better than the end result in last Saturday’s 17-13 loss to Philadelphia. We all have listen to and read Troy Cordingley’s post-game comments as the new head coach of the team.

“Thank goodness it’s December 28,” remarked coach Cordingley, following his review of his team’s performance against the Wings.

One big change this year is the 16 runners and two goaltenders, down from 18 and two.

“We have to be smart on the benches as coaches,” said Cordingley. “We have to make sure everybody needs to get some floor time; we’re going to have to be smart with some of our offensive sets we are going to create – make sure we are not losing the ball and getting scored on transition wise and defensively we got to make sure we have fresh legs there.”

The Bandits were without the services of forwards Aaron Wilson (23 goals last season) and Chad Culp (21 points), who have both been nursing some training camp bumps and bruises.

And right back to work Cordingley went with his coaching staff. No doubt they will extract what went wrong and correct step-by-step before the next game on Friday, January 10 against Toronto. There are 16 more after that one, too.

The first bye of the season comes at a very good time, allowing the Bandits to recoil from game one. The team will have plenty of time to make adjustments and learn from it.

Ryan Benesch, one of four new players on the roster, started the Buffalo scoring and followed up with another in the first quarter to make his presence known. Just a start for the team he followed as a youngster.

“I love it, I grew up watching the Bandits,” said the four-time 30-goal scorer with Minnesota. “I grew up watching guys who played for the Bandits, JT (John Tavares) and other guys; it’s just an honor to be here. It’s like a dream. His wisdom, his leadership is second to none. I am really looking forward to learning a lot from him this year.”

“My job is to put the ball in the net and that’s what I was brought here for, that’s hopefully what I am going to do. I had some good success in Minnesota and hopefully that continues here.”

And those days as a visiting player, coming into Buffalo?

“Not to be intimidated by the crowd,” said Benesch. “The Bandits have the best fan base in the league. They are loud, they’re proud and we always tried to take the crowd out of it. Now, I get to make them (even) more on our side.”

Benesch notices the game changing, even since he’s been in the league.

“The game is much faster now. With the jobs so limited as they are, you’ve really got to make sure you stay in shape and that you are doing your part on the floor. You also have to do your part away from the arena just as much as when you are there.”

While I consider him a trusted defenseman, Steve Priolo made the best of a bad situation on Saturday, earning four assists. Glen Bryan did the same with his goal and assist.

The four-goal run by Wings Jordan Hall was a bit boggling, and a rare penalty shot made the five-goal margin seem larger than such. But the Bandits three-goal run set-up the second half for a chance to turn things around.

Mark Steenhuis tallied five points with two goals and three assists, which makes his move to forward a positive one.

“We brought Mark back up front,” said Cordingley. “He is a very good ballplayer. We want to play to his strengths.”

Overall, the Bandits plan is pretty straightforward.

“We want five guys creating one chance and the defense to play on edge, but with discipline,” noted Cordingley.

The Bandits have a couple of weeks to prepare for a rare Friday night encounter (January 10) at home with the Rock. And then it’s on to Philadelphia for a Sunday afternoon (4pm) rematch with the Wings to complete the two-game weekend.

It’s just like the bull rider slippin’ the chute, crossing the rope over the hand with the tie down, then winkin’ at the fence-man and yelling, “Yep, let’s try it again.”

What will your expectations be?

VS.  New England Black Wolves
 January 02, 2015 - 07:00 PM 1 2 3 4 F
 Buffalo Bandits 0 0 0 0 0
 New England Black Wolves 0 0 0 0 0