12/26/2018 11:45:00 AM / John Gurtler
OK, settle down. Just settle down. The Bandits have been through this before: Leading a game by a large margin, only to lose in the end.
After a 5-1 lead in the first five minutes of Friday's home opener, the Bandits lost track of their identity and responsibilities in a 17-12 dismantling by the visiting Toronto Rock.
"It's very disappointing. This stuff happens," said head coach Rich Kilgour.
Yes, but all too many times with the Bandits. What is it? The campfire coffee?
It's as if a real pack of bandits stormed into a town, took everything that wasn't nailed down in a matter of minutes, then rode back out to the edge of town and set up a yard sale with their take. While lounging against rocks, they marked up a sign, "Sorry, you can take it back."
OK, it wasn't for a lack of effort. They pelted visiting goaltender Nick Rose with 64 shots. There were just times of mediocrity and, too, getting caught up in a six-goal Toronto run.
"You just need to simplify things when that happens. Have a good solid offensive set, get a solid defensive shift and then just build on that," Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich said. "When another team gets on a run, the worst thing you can do is panic and try to do too much."
While I didn't think the Bandits would miss Dhane Smith, what with the step-it-up attitude that is built into this club… yeah, they missed him.
"Dhane creates a lot by just being Dhane," Kilgour said. "He draws so much attention, it allows for other guys to have time and space."
Smith’s status will be monitored daily, which includes treatment and workouts under the supervision of the Bandits athletic staff. I would imagine it will be a game-time decision Friday night when the Bandits host Vancouver.
"I really liked our start, although not capitalizing on our first quarter power-play chances were a bit concerning," Dietrich noted. "The way the defense started to get scrambled and the way the offense became very stagnant in the second quarter is when I knew something bad was starting to happen.”
And it did, but a little action in the third quarter with Corey Small's goal and some solid defensive play gave the team a little kick. All of that was thwarted by Rose's goaltending and the 15-minute span between Buffalo goals.
"Nick Rose is a great goalie. We need to follow the game plan the coaches put together against him. We didn't do that and that played to his advantage," Dietrich said.
OK, clean slate, lesson learned.
"I hope the team learned how good this league is. Being good on paper means nothing if it doesn't translate to the floor," Dietrich said. "I'm sure the coaches noticed the compete level Toronto had and the lack of compete level we had for long stretches of the night."
Vancouver (1-1) comes to town with a new look and new name this Friday night. And several roster changes as 15 players are gone from a year ago. With the franchise being purchased by the Vancouver Canucks and moved downtown to Rogers Arena, the Warriors, too, are coming off a home opener loss to Calgary.
So both teams will be cranky.
Friday night marks the return of Mitch Jones, who was dealt to the Warriors right before training camp for Corey Small. Jones had two goals and two assists in their 14-8 loss to the Roughnecks. He is second in team scoring after two games with seven points.
Logan Schuss leads the team in scoring with four goals and eight assists for 12 points. A solid player with a great personality. Joel McCready loves to stir things up and is as gritty as they come. We only have to dig back to last year's visit to Buffalo and his game-winner in overtime.
Former Bandit Tony Malcom is a strong player for the Warriors. Team captain Matt Beers shores up the defense and Aaron Bold has a new home between the pipes, coming from New England. The veteran netminder enters Friday's game with a .750 save percentage, a 1-1 record, with 81 saves.
Broadcast coverage of Friday night's game will be on the B/R Live online platform and on the radio on ESPN 1520 AM. The radio pregame show will start at 7 p.m., then simulcasting with B/R Live at 7:30. Randy Mearns joins me in the booth while Dave Buchanan will be between the benches.
Steve Bermel, who will fill in when Randy can't make the games because of his St. Bonaventure coaching commitment, did a great job last Friday on our inaugural broadcast.
As mentioned in my previous blog, each team in the NLL spent a considerable amount of money to improve the quality of television coverage, along with the distribution of the game to a solid online carrier.
Chrisanne Bellas, who is vice president of broadcasting for the Sabres and Bandits, coordinated the task of making sure the in-arena production, BR/Live game production and radio broadcast will stand alone out of one master control. The transformation has taken a tremendous amount of time and work.
Last Friday was our first game with B/R Live, and yes, the additional equipment and support personnel is substantial, which includes additional cameras, replays and dedicated coverage of the game. KeyBank Center has been delivering Bandits games in high definition for several seasons and the picture quality has always been good.
Now with sound personnel, graphic operators, floor director and extended replays from the building control room, our game is now produced and directed by David Dee, who collaborates with the in-house arena director on game shot selection, but calls the shots with our coverage and directs the talent.
In addition to our on-camera location in the broadcast booth, there is now camera coverage of coaches and players interviews during the media timeouts and in-game updates right from Buchanan's position between the benches. There will also be segments of players mic'd up during the broadcast. B/R Live subscriptions are available here.
Continued holiday cheer and Happy New Year, everybody!