Blogs | 2/16/2010 11:42:23 AM | John Gurtler
A funny thing happened around the 7:02 mark in the first quarter of the Saturday, February 13th Bandits game in Philadelphia.
With the score 5-0 Wings, all that was left, save empty cups from the Villanova basketball game played earlier, was the quickest way out of the Wachovia Center and the back way home to Buffalo.
The start was embarrassing but common in the NLL game. Just like basketball, one team can get on a run and dominate.
The Wings looked just that: Dominating and desperate.
And their quick start surprised their fans. No sooner did one have the chance to settle in with nachos and dog, did the first beer spill in the isleway when the life and times of Kyle Wailes scored at the :23-second mark. OK, fluke spurt at the start of the game. But no, had you decided to go get a replacement beverage, you would of missed four more score’s and that included the last two just eight-seconds a part in the first seven minutes of the game!
The construction hat-clad fan’s silver face, down behind the penalty box, had yet to dry. And the anthem singer was still singing remnants in the Zamboni hallway. And the last of the afternoon’s college basketball crowd had just left the building.
“Oh,” I thought to myself, talk about un-chartered waters; this was going to be a long night.
It took Drew Westerfelt, the Wings leading scorer, to take a tripping penalty. This infraction somehow woke the slumbering Bandits up. They realized Angus Goodleaf was in the net, reliever to starting Mike Thompson and, yes finally, the fact John Tavares was back in the lineup for his first game of the 2010 season.
Then, just like Rocky hitting the last step to the top of his run in downtown Philli, the Bandits started to move as if the movie’s theme song was playing. Trumpets blurting “Dot da dada da dada da dada.”
Powerplay goal @ 11-minutes of the first quarter. Second goal, 1:36 later. Third goal, power play, :30-second later and fourth goal seven-second later. “At the end of one, Wings with a one-goal lead 5-4,” said the PA announcer.
Then the Bandits outscored the Wings 3-2 in quarter two and simmered at half time, 7-7.
The second half you could feel the Bandits had the advantage, what with having saved most of their energy from napping early in the game. The power play perked and even short-handed, the Bandits could not be stopped. The teams played great up and back lacrosse and the goaltenders came up large.
But there was this amazing calming effect I noticed on the floor, especially down in the Wing attack zone.
Plain and simple, John Tavares brought the game to a point where fellow linemates could see and gather confidence. The passing was better. The flow of the pick and roll work. The communication and directives seemed to have rhythm. And the second half was practically perfect in every way.
The power play went five for eight. One shorted hand goal scored. Rookie Angus Goodleaf made 37-saves and showed poise between the pipes. Six players went in double figures. And by the time the clock struck 10:16pm, which marked the end of the game, every Bandit to a man made a contribution to the 13-11 come-from-behind victory.
It was a classic Bandit win. The one you remember from previous seasons and one that will be the pinnacle of what can be a dramatic turnaround.
And with Washington and Toronto falling prey, yea, it can happen.
I think the Bandits have something here.
I see it in the roster. The stats. The work ethic. The camaraderie The will.
And I see the confidence when number 11 is out on the floor. A funny thing happens when he runs out that front door.
Radio coverage note: Saturday, February 27, the Bandits/Wings game will be carried on WGR550. Pre-game set for 7:00 PM and the draw @ 7:30 PM. And the game on nll.com network.