1/10/2019 10:00:00 AM / John Gurtler
The Bandits continued to play flawless lacrosse in their 13-4 victory over the Knighthawks last Saturday night. And that included Matt Vinc establishing a new save record in the NLL and the team tying a club record of lowest goals against in game.
Five stops into his 55-save performance, Vinc passed Anthony Cosmo to establish a new NLL saves record with 7,273 stops. Vinc's positioning was superb and that included side to side and head-on shots.
He was seeing virtually everything that was thrown at him, which is a credit to the Bandits defense adhering to the game plan, allowing Vinc to track the shots.
All in all, a phenomenal feat by Vinc and the defensive group, considering the number of K-Hawks transition attacks, and too, the fact they gained possession of the ball on 17 of 21 faceoffs to start their offensive sets.
Allowing only one goal per quarter tied the fewest goals against in a game in franchise history, which was also accomplished on March 21, 2009 when the Bandits beat Portland 14-4.
The Bandits defense was constantly whacking and wailing on the Rochester players forcing them to scramble for any type of playmaking, which was kept to the respective boards and corners.
Going unnoticed, but consistently doing their jobs shift in and shift out are players like Justin Martin, who has a gifted knack for clearing players, jamming lanes and creating havoc with opposing offenses. Martin, just in his third season, is a smart player and is well on his way of becoming the best defenseman in the league.
So, too, are the new faces in Ian MacKay, Bryce Sweeting, Matt Gilray, Ethan O'Connor, Matt Spanger and Ryan Wagner. Kevin Brownell, Nick Weiss, Mitch de Snoo and Matthew Bennett add veteran stability on defense and transition.
And the Bandits captain, Steve Priolo, is the vocal piece of the defense and is always in the middle of things. The 10-year Bandit vet has played in 110 consecutive games (over six seasons) and not only leads the league in caused turnovers with nine, but leads all defenseman in scoring with four goals and three assists. Priolo and Weiss share the team lead for loose balls with 32, fourth in the league.
As has been the case all season, the offense, transition and defense combined for 30 points, which included the return of Dhane Smith and Corey Small to the lineup. An 8-2 margin by the Bandits in the second half had the ball going north, south, east and west at a rapid pace.
Shawn Evans leads the NLL in scoring with nine goals and 21 assists for 33 points. Josh Byrne is right behind Evans with an 8+21 mark. Thomas Hoggarth is tied for second in the league with 10 goals.
Things are slowly starting to turnaround for the Bandits.
Taking an analogy conjured up from actor Jeff Bridges, who was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes this past Sunday night, relates perfectly to the Bandits status now, standing 3-1 on the season.
Gosh, if it’s one actor who would fit in nicely with the Bandits persona, it's Bridges, who portrayed The Dude in “The Big Lebowski” - one of his best pieces of work I think.
Anyway, here's Bridges rattling through all of the redundant thank yous to his people, when all of a sudden he starts to tell a story from a friend, who explained the problems ocean-going tankers were having turning around. The Cliff’s Notes version of Bridges’ ramble: A little rudder was put onto the big rudder, which helped the tankers turn. The little rudder is called a Trim Tab.
Bridges rolled into an analogy that a Trim Tab is an example of how an individual can make a difference.
"I'd like to think of myself as a Trim Tab," Bridges said. "We can turn this ship the way we want to go, man."
And that's what the Bandits, as Trim Tabs, are doing. Working together to turn what was a wayward ship around.
And now, another test: The Dreaded Bye Week.
As you know by now, the Bandits have four of them this season (the weekends of Jan. 12, March 2, March 30 and April 13).
No need to get into analytics, the Bandits historically have played terribly coming off a bye week. I'll just leave that right there.
If it's one season to change that, it's this one.
The next Bandits home game will be Jan. 19 as Kevin Crowley (51 goals last season) and the Philadelphia Wings come to town.
It's also Bandits Alumni Night, so plan accordingly.