Blogs | 3/30/2010 9:18:48 AM | John Gurtler
Old shooting laces and a few story strands from the game Saturday, March 27, 2010 in Rochester.
Kudos to the new ownership of the Knighthawks and Amerks, continuing the fine hospitality on our game-night visits. Always good to see familiar faces within the building and that includes Steve at the press gate and usher supervisor, Jim. Both were there when I was with the Amerks, starting in 1984. Always good to have a conversation with them about the game at hand. Those kind of little things go a long way and I am sure the entire working staff treats the Amerk and Knighthawk patrons just the same, which is a very nice touch. While it is a fierce rivalry, everyone on staff with the Knighthawks is always very accommodating.
Bandit fans certainly showed their enthusiasm and depth Saturday night as well. It did not take them long to start the chants, “Let’s go Bandits” right after warm-ups. And the orange-clad enthusiasts were paid back by the players with two big goals the first two minutes of the game. It was a great turnout from Buffalo. I met two fans from Buffalo Saturday night, separate occasions, attending their first game ever. Hope they return to see the real Banditland.
Who would have thought the Eastern Division would be parked this week with so many sixes? The standings look like roadrunner slammed into the route 66 sign and were all seeing triple. Bandits tied for second – Yes, you are seeing it correctly. Tied for second. Looking forward, the Bandits could take the season series with Toronto, Boston and Orlando. And another reason why the Colorado game this Saturday is so important. And the Mammoth are looking for a win in the worst way, coming to Buffalo on a seven-game loosing streak. They haven’t won since January 30th.
An interesting new warm-up was displayed Saturday night in the hallway leading to the Bandits dressing room as Mark Steenhuis and Mike Accursi displayed. Because there was a basketball game Saturday afternoon, the building change-over crew at the Blue Cross Arena had to scramble within a matter of hours to transform the building to indoor lacrosse configuration. That meant the players had to wait to enter the playing surface for their pre-pre-game shoot around.
Not to be denied workout time, Steenhuis and Accusi found themselves about 15 yards apart, anchored legs flat and wish-boned out on the shiny marbled floor, with upper body straight in vertical position. Equipment included gloves, stick and ball. The two started a series of “catch” out of the webbing of their sticks, which required stretching shooting and catching skills while remaining in the up-right staid position.
The two were relentless whipping hard shots at each other, looking to squeak one past down the narrow hallway. Call it their version of skinny. Call it “you-better-do-it-again come next game” as the two were amazing in the Bandits 14-7 victory over the K-hawks. Steenhuis with (5+3) eight points and Accursi with (4+1) five points. Steenhuis now has (27+39) 66 points, and is ranked fifth overall in league scoring (and No. 1 in shots with 132). See there is that 66 again.
Come to think of it, the entire defense had a good night intercepting Rochester passes and creating transitions that gave the Bandits a 10-4 lead at the half.
“Were really starting to play as a team, “ said head coach Darris Kilgour. “Guys are really starting to understand our defense; our goals-against are down, Mike Thompson is starting to play real well; and offensively, we’ve been getting some timely goals – we need it to break the run, JT in overtime, so the offense is not lighting up the board, but their scoring big goals and the defense is doing a good job.”
Speaking of “D.” Billy Dee Smith showed why he was the defensive player of the year, employing superb floor position, issuing crushing checks and scooping up a team-high 10 loose balls. Yes, excellent game by Mr. BD Smith.
Bret Bucktooth has adjusted to his new assignment through the back door, turning in his top performance of the year with two goals and one assist. Too, the play of Tommy Montour continues to impress everybody and indeed in the running for some sort of post-season recognition. John Harasym as well. Frank Resetarits with two nice goals. And John Tavares had four assists, setting up some beauties.
In all, 15 Bandit players figured in the scoring, which is a high mark for the team.
Buffalo’s goal-for is improving, now into eighth with 10.42 average. Goal-against has dropped to sixth in the league. Was that a 6?
How about goaltender Michael Thompson kicking aside shot after shot while the K-Hawks worked on a five on three advantage. Thompson finishing with 32 saves on the night. A perfect 3-0 record, Thompson has a.819 save percentage and a 9.57 goals-against.
What is the biggest change in this Bandit team of late?
“I just think our work ethic,” said Kilgour. “I think we came in a little bit full of ourselves. We thought we could turn a switch and all of a sudden be the Bandits again. We had a lot of different players at the beginning of the season and it took a little time for them to gel. It took us a while to really understand what it takes to win again. I really think we got that hunger back and it’s been showing on the scoreboard.
Just like golf, you hope the team remembers to play the same way this Saturday night at home against The Colorado Mammoth. The shooting laces are perfect.
Game coverage will be on KB1520 AM, with the pre-game starting at 7p.m.