Blogs | 4/21/2009 4:01:45 PM | John Gurtler
A Denver native, John Gurtler has been the voice of the Buffalo Bandits the past six seasons. Gurtler has also done play-by-play with the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres and has served as the stadium voice for the Buffalo Bills. Gurtler will share his thoughts and unique perspective each week with Bandits fans.
Nobody said this was going to be easy. And with a target on your back, microscope in tow with a host full of critics, this is the price you pay for being a champion.
Defending the championship is hard. The year after is always the toughest. No more "I think I can, I think I can" attitude, or the once comedian, now pending approval Minnesota State senator Al Franken "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and daw-gonn-it people like me" feeling.
You are expected to win. The reigning champion is a part of the target.
Saturday night's Buffalo Bandits loss was a tough one to take. Probably the toughest of the six. Too many bits and pieces, which have been hanging around since the first loss of the season Feb. 6, played a role in their overtime loss.
Sure, it's frustrating for those of us who are outside the lines, watching and critiquing every move. Everybody wants the Bandits to win. So there is more pressure. And with pressure comes mistakes.
But give credit to the opposition who has raised their game to get here. Not that the Bandits have been blown out this season, but this one hurts. And you can bet the players had a tough time getting through post-game and the rest of the evening last Saturday. It stung.
But like the Gatorade TV commercial where the bus of football players slowly passes the thruway tollbooth with former NFL coach Bill Parcells as the attendant, giving you the concerning eye, he is asking on his champioship terms "is it in you?"
From my point of view, I don't think there is a group of indoor lacrosse players more gifted and talented than those on this '09 Bandits team. We've seen flashes of brilliance and we've seen the wheel wobble a little.
And while this team finished 5-6 since that Feb. 6 date, we've seen the emergence of other teams that could not find their way off the bus at the start of the season.
New York and Boston ended the season very strong. But the Bandits are better. And they have shown how good they can be.
Now it's the Bandits' turn to return to dominance and display consistent brilliance they are known for. Two 51-goal scorers; a group of game-breakers; a good defensive system and outstanding goaltending. What more could you want?
The fan base is the most dedicated in all of the league - and the most passionate group of people I have ever seen. They don't need to get the eye from the Tuna.
No, this is it. Just win it - period.
Great Saturday to see Brett Bucktooth back in the line-up, alias "player, new, No. 26." He was tested early on but ended the night with a goal and three assists.
What about that between the legs goal by John Tavares, or the diving one from behind the net in the second quarter? Eight games with three or more goals for Tavares who finished 94points.
Mike Accursi finished the season strong with 12 goals in his last five games, including three hat tricks in a row.
Congratulations to Phil Sanderson for recording his 100th assist Saturday night. He lead the team in loose balls, had eight for the game and 137 for the season.
Kenny Montour showed he is ready for the playoffs with some great saves off the 45 he made Saturday. And all the numbers he set personally this year for his finest.
And congratulations to the Bandits fans for filling the seats this season. A total of 143,651 attending the eight games, a new National Lacrosse League record!
Call Banditland the new version of Orange Crush. Best fans in the sport business.
And too, for the fan to be honored with the Bandits third jersey with the No. 09 signed by the players and nameplate on the back representing the new record of 140,943. Two season tickets for next year were included as well.
The playoffs start May 2 against Boston. Maybe the wait will do us all some good.