Blogs | 3/31/2009 4:32:40 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.
While he missed the first seven games of the season, Pat McCready represents everything the Bandits stand for when it comes to passion and sincerity. A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery along with fatherhood, forced McCready into reflection of life away from the game he and his family have put so much into.
But with strong rehabilitation and coaxing from his St. Catherines teammates, McCready thought about the timing for his return.
"The boys around there wouldn't leave alone," noted McCready. "The first thing I didn't want to do is upset any balance that they had. They (Bandits) were running the table (5-0) and it was just kind of a matter of timing with the shoulder, and then talking with the guys, and then everybody said it would be no problem to come back. Those were the main factors there."
Away from the game, McCready is a law enforcement officer in Ontario and like his teammates, the balance of working, family life and commitment to the NLL game, it can be a bit overwhelming.
"You know what its pretty hectic, noted the 14-year pro. "My wife is a teacher and she goes to work early on. I get my daughter ready to go to day care, then go to work and try and deal with the hours. We work some long hours and if there is enough energy left at the end of the day, I come home spend time with my family and try and get a workout in. That is what the typical day looks like."
Pat McCready has the best of both worlds when it comes to family–his teammates and his own.
"Unbelievable. This is my home away from home (the closeness of his teammates) and too, my daughter just took her first steps last week. It's something you can't talk about until you actually experience it."
And in the same exuberance, McCready speaks highly of his team.
"It's basically the most talented team I've been on and pleasure to watch these guys. We've got some of the best players in the world here. Any of these guys on our offense can score at any time, so you can't mark one guy - it's amazing."
And the fans, in-mass with their support?
"Yeah, Banditland has been a big part for us. When they are here, it's the extra man on the floor. You can't say enough. The intensity is incredible; you can't hear yourself think sometimes."
Crystal ball to the playoffs, McCready notes this is going to be a pretty interesting run, what with the remaining games against playoff contenders.
"The way it sits right now you would be facing Rochester, or Boston and New York - depending on the way things end up. You don't want to look past any of those guys. Rochester seems to be turning the corner with Patty O'Toole back healthy back for them and that's a big asset."
No question about it Pat McCready is a big asset for the Bandits and glad he is back.
Closer to the schedule at hand, GM and head coach Darris Kilgour focuses in on the games ahead, one at a time.
"It's a very tough schedule coming down," noted Kilgour. "Two of the better teams in our division are New York and Boston, we have good tests coming with them and obviously Rochester has been a thorn in our side. We have to come out here and we have to focus and we want to be on a good roll going into the playoffs. That's gonna come down to us playing the last four games."
Returning to the success the Bandits had two weeks ago against Portland certainly carries water to the next game Saturday night in Boston.
"We just talked about what we were successful with Saturday night against Portland," noted Kilgour. "If we can continue to do those things, I think we'll have a lot of success with most of the teams in this league. We went over what we did right and look to improve on those things."
No question the Bandits did a lot of things right Saturday night in their losing effort against New York. They threw a lot of rubber at Matt Vinc and he came up with some large saves, 50 in total.
Penalty trouble and a four goal run help fuel New York's game but you must admit the Bandits third quarter mount to get back in the game was impressive.
And what about that second, third, fourth-effort goal by John Tavares? If ever there is an example of making the players want to be better, that sequence of getting drilled to the floor, pounced and battered, then to spring back up and get in position to finish the play off with a score was, to say the least, spectacular.
Pretty spectacular is the word for the events that took place the night before the home game against New York. Friday night, March 27, the Bandits management hosted a reception and dinner in the Harbor Club for the team and personnel. The highlight of the night came early as everyone was given a world championship ring, commemorating the 2008 NLL championship. What an honor to be rewarded with a ring and quite a treat to watch the Sabres/Leafs game for dessert.
Yes, very sweet.