BANDITS OPEN TRAINING CAMP FOR 2014 SEASONFeatures | 11/23/2013 6:42:35 PM | Alex Pagliano
Saturday marked the first time former Buffalo Bandits player turned head coach Troy Cordingley led the team onto the floor. The Bandits opened training camp for the 2014 season with a pair of sessions at First Niagara Center.
“I’m happy to be back,” Cordingley said. “I love this town. I played here for nine years and I was an assistant coach here for five years and it’s awesome to be back."
Knowing the expectations set forth for the Bandits this year, Cordingley wants the team to return to what made the Bandits successful in the past.
“It becomes about putting the product on the floor and playing the way that the Buffalo Bandits are known to play,” he said. “We’re here to win. That’s the bottom line. It does not matter whether we [finished] at the bottom last season, we’re here to win. That’s our goal."
Cordingley is not the only member of the Bandits organization returning to the region.
Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich acquired Kitchener, Ont. native Ryan Benesch from Minnesota in exchange for three future draft picks, including first-round selections in 2015 and 2016.
“The price for [Benesch] was steep, but we thought that the price was manageable,” Dietrich said. “Picks are important; and we always try to stockpile picks. But, you only really use those picks to hopefully acquire a player of Ryan’s caliber. And, at the end of the day, I think it’s going to be a really good deal for us.”
Benesch, who led the NLL in scoring in 2011 with 95 points (46+49), had been moved to three different teams over the past six seasons prior to landing with the Bandits.
“Buffalo’s close to home for me,” Benesch said. “I had an option to go to Vancouver or Buffalo [in a trade] and to me, it was a no-brainer to come to Buffalo. …The fans here in Buffalo are great. I’m looking forward to playing in front of crowds of 16,000 and 17,000 people every night.”
Benesch should provide the Bandits with some youth and scoring prowess on the left side. As someone who embraced a leadership role in Minnesota, Benesch looks forward to working with new teammates John Tavares and Shawn Williams on the left side.
“It’s definitely a change [coming from Minnesota],” Benesch said. “They’ve played a lot longer, and I’m looking forward to learning some things from them. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Dietrich also brought forward Joe Resetarits home from Calgary. The 24-year-old Hamburg, N.Y. native said he’s excited to return to the area.
“I’ve been watching this team since I was 3 years old,” Resetarits said. “Coming back home was something I wanted to do before I stopped playing.”
Resetarits should also provide the Bandits with some much-needed quickness on offense.
“Last year, I had a good experience [in Calgary],” he said. “I’m hoping to translate [some of that success] to Buffalo, too. I’m going to go out there and give 110 percent to help the team win.”
John Tavares never left Buffalo but there was a distinct possibility that the 45-year-old forward could have retired at the conclusion of last season. However, Tavares skipped playing lacrosse this summer and decided that he would plan on going out on his own terms.
“I talked to [Steve Dietrich] about this coming season, about whether I should come back or not, and we both agreed that I should,” Tavares said. “We’re looking to improve the season from last year. It would have been a disappointing year to end my career on.”
Tavares remains optimistic that he can contribute this season. Last season, he recorded 14 goals and 25 assists in 12 games.
“I’m hoping that I still have something still in me,” he said.
Tavares mentioned that the team has not approached him about resting periodically throughout the season. Dietrich, however, planned on talking with him about rest eventually and that the number of games Tavares might sit out would be dependent on the team’s success.
The Bandits return to the floor on Saturday, Nov. 30 for their second day of training camp. The Bandits will host an open scrimmage on Saturday, Dec. 7 against the Philadelphia Wings. More information on that event can be found here.