The Buffalo Bandits (5-8) are still looking for answers, and a win, as they have dropped five straight games and have dropped to the bottom of the East Division standings. They are coming off a listless 18-11 loss at the hands of the Toronto Rock.
They will have a challenge in front of them, as they travel to the Xcel Energy Center to take on the Minnesota Swarm (5-7). The Swarm have won two games in a row, and are coming off of a 20-11 win over the Philadelphia Wings.
“Obviously it’s a huge game. It’s not an easy place to play. It seems like every game we go there, it’s a close game,” Bandits head coach Darris Kilogur said. “Right now, we’re just looking to get a win and get our confidence back.”
“Playing Buffalo, they’re a tough team,” Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said. “I know how hungry they’ll be. They have great leadership and have been getting great production from their young guys, especially Dhane [Smith]. We never look forward to playing Buffalo.”
Bandits’ rookie Dhane Smith has been the bright spot during the losing streak. Smith, the Bandits’ 2012 first-round draft pick, leads the team with 20 goals. He is also second on the team with 37 points and has 14 points in his last five games.
Unfortunately, that bright spot has darkened a bit, as Smith injured his shoulder in the previous game. Kilgour said that he is questionable heading into this week’s game. The offensive onus may rest solely with leading scorer Shawn Williams, who has 52 points this season.
The other glimmer of hope for the Bandits is the fact that they’ve more or less had the Swarm’s number since Minnesota entered the league in 2002. This will be the 18th all time meeting between these two teams, and the Bandits hold an all-time record of 14-3 and are 6-1 in Minnesota. They also won their last game against the Swarm, 13-12, back on January 12.
“We’re a frustrated bunch, we’re just trying to find some answers here,” Bandits transition player Jay Thorimbert said. “We just go out and play. That’s the main thing we have to do. Just do the right things, go out and play, and hopefully we can get a win under our belt.”
While the focus has been on youth in Minnesota, it is seven-year veteran Ryan Benesch leading the team offensively. He leads the team in goals (27) and points (63) through 12 games this season.
It’s been a varied offensive attack that has sparked the Swarm during their two-game winning streak. 16 different players had at least one point in their 20-11 win over the Wings. 10 out of 16 of those players had two or more points.
“Getting a little winning streak going is good for our guys. Having to big wins back-to-back is nothing but good for us.” Swarm transition player Jordan Macintosh said. He had four goals in the win over the Wings.
The buzz word around the Bandits locker room seems to be “confidence.” More specifically, it is the lack of confidence the team seems to be feeling as their struggles continue. Kilgour points to small stretches within each game that seem to doom the team.
“Obviously, we still believe we have a team that can compete with anybody in the league,” Kilgour said. “There’s been one quarter in every game where we just fall apart. When you have those kind of quarters, it’s really hard to keep up the confidence.”
Fans can watch the Bandits try to work out the kinks against the Swarm via a live web cast on The Lacrosse Network (Youtube.com/TheLacrosseNetwork). Game time is set 8 PM EDT/7 PM CDT.