Features | 3/4/2014 1:53:41 PM | Alex Pagliano
|Dhane Smith (Photo Credit: Bill Wippert) |
Dhane Smith led the Buffalo Bandits with 24 goals last season, primarily coming out of the front door. But at the start of training camp, Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley elected to move the second-year professional to the back door.
“Troy communicated to me at the start of training camp about my role and I accepted that role,” Smith said. “I have learned that if I play great defense coming out of the back door, I will have great offensive chances, particularly in transition.”
Cordingley has rewarded Smith with arguably the most minutes on the floor. At some point during each game this season, Smith has seen action on offense, defense and on the power play.
“Dhane has been legitimate for us,” Cordingley said. “And the thing that everyone forgets is that he plays defense, too. He’s expending a lot of energy pressuring some of the league’s top-notch players and then he winds up pushing the ball. He’s been real good.”
A native of Kitchener, Ont., Smith was one of seven Bandits to record at least 10 goals last season. Eight games into the 2014 season, four Bandits, including Smith, have already recorded at least 10 goals. With the addition of Ryan Benesch and the position change of Mark Steenhuis to forward, the pressure for Smith to score goals has been removed.
“Our job is to prevent goals, and our offense will find the back of the net,” he said. “I have accepted my role, and I’m looking forward to keep doing my thing.”
Entering his second year in the league, Smith has matured. He heads to the gym each day of the week to train and works to build on a season in which he was named to the All-Rookie team.
“I have a lot more confidence in myself,” he said. “Troy’s giving me a lot of opportunities. As a young player, I am happy to be given the opportunities that I have.”
Coming out of the OLA Junior ‘A’ Lacrosse League, Smith recorded 38 goals and 69 assists for the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves before entering the 2012 NLL Draft. At the draft, Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich made Smith the fifth overall pick, a move that he has not regretted.
“Dhane, along with some of our younger players, is going to be the face of our team for hopefully the next 10 years,” Dietrich said.
Smith, on the other hand, would like to remain in Buffalo even longer – and for the duration of his career.
“I want to be the next lifer,” he said. “I do not want to play anywhere else but Buffalo. I look up to John Tavares, who has played all of his career in one place. That’s kind of what I want to do. To get that kind of praise from Steve, that’s huge. I have so much respect for him.”
And with those aspirations, Smith has subsequently begun to take an active leadership role on the floor.
“I’m trying my best to be a leader out there,” he said. “In our locker room, everyone’s talking. I try to help out as much as possible.”
Smith and his teammates return from a two-week break Saturday night when they host the Minnesota Swarm at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m.