Moring shoot around update
-Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour said that captain John Tavares will be retroactively placed on the injured reserve and will not play tonight or next week."We want to be real careful with him. We want to give him this week and next week off," Kiglour said.
-Transition player John Harasym will return to the floor tonight after serving a two-game suspension, according to Kilgour. Kligour also said that forward Carter Bender and transition player Kevin Browwell will be in the lineup tonight.
Bandits set to close out three-game home stand, begin home-and-home series with rival Knighthawks.
The Buffalo Bandits (2-3) are set to conclude their three-game homestand Saturday night as the rival Rochester Knighthawks (2-3) come to town for a 7:30 PM faceoff. The Bandits are 1-1 on the current homestand after beating the Philadelphia Wings in the first game two weeks ago, and falling to the Toronto Rock, 14-12, last week.
The struggling Knighthawks are coming off a win in an unusual 11 AM game against the Wings. They doubled up their opponents, winning 20-10. They are now on a two-game winning streak after defeating the Washington Stealth, 7-6, last weekend.
The Bandits and Knighthawks have met once already. The Bandits won that game, 14-13, after Tracey Kelusky scored with 12 seconds left in the game to give the Bandits the victory and spoil the Knighthawks’ NLL Championship banner raising ceremony.
This game is the second of four meetings between the two teams. This is just the second time in franchise history that the Bandits will play the Knighthawks four times in a season.
“It’s one of our heated rivalries. We always have good games whether it’s in our arena or their arena,” Bandits transition player Mark Steenhuis said. “All the guys get excited. There’s a lot on the line for us, coming off a loss. They’re coming off of back-to-back games. It should all pan out for a real nice game on Saturday night.”
For the Bandits, Shawn Williams leads the way offensively, as has been the case all season. Williams has 26 points (five goals, 21 assists). Rookie Dhane Smith has seemed to fit right in offensively as well, as he is second on the team with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists). Forward Mike Hominuck, however, has been the biggest surprise for the Bandits offense. He has scored seven goals and added an assist in just three games so far this season.
Meanwhile, Cody Jamieson and Dan Dawson have been the story on offense for the Knighthawks. Jamieson leads the team with 24 points (10 goals, 24 assists) and Dawson is a close second with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists).
The recurring issue for the Bandits has been penalties. In last week’s game, they took two five-minute major penalties, one of which cancelled the remainder of a match penalty assessed against the Rock. Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour hopes to have that problem corrected this weekend.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box,” Kilgour said. “We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by taking penalties. We need to play a little bit smarter and clean up the defensive side of the door. I’m happy with what the offense has been doing. We’re still a work in progress and hopefully we can get things sorted out.”
As previously mentioned, this is the second game for the Knighthawks this weekend, with the added twist of Friday’s 11 AM start time . Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen does not view this as being different from a regular back-to-back series, and thinks the earlier game helps give the team a little extra rest.
The Knighthawks are now 1-2 against the East division after the win in Philadelphia, a record that Hasen wants his top players to try to improve upon Saturday in Buffalo.
“It’s always a battle. We’re looking for our best players to be our best players,” Hasen said. “We’re looking for a better effort and to be tighter defensively. We kind of like where we’re sitting right now, but we just have to be at our best.”
The Bandits will still be without captain John Tavares. Tavares suffered a calf injury at practice last week and missed the game against the Rock. Kilgour said the injury is progressing but that Tavares will not be available for Saturday’s game.
Game time is set for 7:30 PM at the First Niagara Center. Tickets are available at the First Niagara Center box office or through tickets.com. Fans can also tune into the live webcast via The Lacrosse Network (Youtube.com/TheLacrosseNetwork) or listen in on KB1520 AM.