Features | 3/4/2010 9:33:16 AM | Jackie Lewandowski
Brett Bucktooth knows a thing or two about injuries.
The forward missed almost the entire season last year with a shoulder injury which plagued his recovery until the playoffs.
After the team lost the championship game, Bucktooth had plenty of time during the summer and fall months to fully recover..
“For the first time I actually had a real off-season where I could take time off and not do very much,” Bucktooth said. “I tried mainly to relax and work out to build my strength and stay in shape.”
Finally healthy, with the injuries far from his mind, Bucktooth is back in the lineup and is off to a great start. In eight games played, the forward has registered eight goals and as many assists for a total of 16 points.
As everyone talks about sparks and the importance of team chemistry to win, Bucktooth has been a great example of how teammates react to each others' momentum.
“Confidence-wise when you get those looks and points it helps out the team as a whole,” Bucktooth said. “We are all just feeding off of each other and everyone pulls together after that.”
Teamwork is something that Head Coach Darris Kilgour has emphasized since the start of the season.
However, with injuries to seemingly everyone but Bucktooth on the team, that is becoming harder to establish. Goalie Ken Montour, team captain Chris White, and forward Frank Resetarits are all out with respective ailments.
The Bandits finally got veteran John Tavares back, and Montour may make his return from a concussion this weekend but at no point this season have all of the team’s major players been on the turf at once. Having been in their shoes, Bucktooth is offering whatever support he can.
“I just talk to the guys about their therapy and how they are doing,” Bucktooth said. “It’s the best thing you can do as a teammate is just support them, and that is one of the best qualities of this team; we all care about each other.”
Bucktooth also recognizes how returning from an injury adds a spark to the team. Specifically, the return of John Tavares after the first six games has proved to be a huge spark to the offense.
“Anytime you have someone like JT in the lineup there is a benefit,” Bucktooth said. “He sees the floor well and he sees everyone, and once he has the ball there are good offensive chances.”
“When he walks on the floor there is just a presence and everything slows down, and we know he’s going to make the right plays without rushing it.”
Now looking down the stretch to the last eight games of the season, the Bandits need to overcome the injuries and face the adversity.
“I think the mentality with every game is you have to come out with your best and play hard and play to win,” he said. “Irregardless of the standings, we have to put the emphasis on playing smart.”
The Bandits also boast a secret weapon; their fans. The Bandits officially have the strongest fan turnout in the league so far this year, boasting an average of 15,000 fans each game.
“Other teams that come into here have our fans on them all game long and its great” Bucktooth said. “Our team is so appreciative of our fans.”
“I love them and they love us. Anytime we are flowing and they are flowing its going to be a dangerous night for the other team.”
The fans will certainly get their chance to make the difference when the Bandits host the Orlando Titans this Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.