5/30/2019 8:57:00 AM / John Gurtler
I don't know where to pick back up. Calgary's Rhys Duch found a lane and zipped a shot past Matt Vinc for the game-winning overtime goal in overtime to give the Roughnecks the 2019 NLL Cup last Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
The deafening noise of the 17,038 fans cheering in every octave encapsulated in the venue. As we called the game for radio, that 52 seconds of noise was the only translation needed.
Say what you want. You listened to it or saw it. Use any refrain. Let it go. Get it out.
This one hurts more than the last time, back in 2016 against Saskatchewan. The Bandits were so close this year, yet the distance of that fateful goal by Duch in overtime, made it so far.
After finishing the regular season with the best of everything, which included league, franchise, and player records - and two playoff wins to confirm their dominance - the shine quickly faded. The Bandits lost back-to-back games for the first time all season in the Finals, and a chance to hoist the NLL flute shaped trophy was denied.
Calgary deserves a curtain call. They wanted it and got through sheer determination, an MVP playing on a bum ankle, and a young goaltender who will carry this team as a championship force for the next decade. True that, too, Roughnecks head coach, Curt Malawsky, is a lacrosse savant.
Finishing 16-6 overall is an excellent mark for the Bandits. There is a lot to be proud of from the 14-4 regular season record, which includes a six-game winning streak and a record of 10-2 to close out the regular season. This was a group of heart and soul with gifted talent. And they will be better from this defeat.
Yes, it still hurts, and rightfully so.
Reviews and personnel evaluations, which includes losing two players to the expansion draft, will be carried out. Then it's on to trades, free agent signings, and the NLL Draft to see how the roster can improve even more.
There is still work to be done to get back to win it all, with conviction. The Bandits are a great team and have a nucleus of very talented players. This is a team that is incredibly together and on the same page of achieving what needs to be done. As the Bandits captain, Steve Priolo mentioned that this group isn't done.
"There is so much support from our fans in Buffalo. Everybody believes in us, and we believe in ourselves,” he said. “It's just such a good little family we’ve got here and just a bunch of brothers. We have everything in place, all the pieces – the guys, the coaching staff – everything going for us. We'll be back."
Training camp opens Nov. 9. Already marked.
Thank you, Banditland, for your amazing support and dedication to this team.
Have a great summer and make it count.