Blogs | 4/6/2010 9:18:38 AM | John Gurtler
Forget the first 58-minutes of last Saturday’s game. There were a few moments - but between the Brandon Francis vs. Ryan McFaden heavy weight bout and the trio of goals from Accursi, Tavares and Steenhuis - the first half was saved by the half-time antics of the Bandits special clowning guests (how many Red Bulls do you think they blasted before they hit the floor?).
But the Bandit fans didn’t look like they wanted to participate. I think they were trying to figure what was up, with their Bandits, or was Colorado bound and determined for a win – I think the latter.
The usual suspects were there Saturday night, but it was as if someone had striped their gears off their 10-speed bike and took away any form of rhythm. The Bandit’s passing was a tinge off and connections were missed. I likened it to a stylist connected to the arm of a turntable; couldn’t get into the grove of the vinyl and the arm kept skipping across.
Despite a four goal run in the third quarter, the house was tilting at the end of the 15-minute frame as many fans decided to head for the turn styles and move on. Even NBC News predicted Colorado a winner by the end of the third quarter and assumed concession was forthcoming. NOT.
When the score was 11-7 with only a couple minutes to go, who knew the Bandits would be Kung-Foo-Fighting with the most excellent of goals :27-seconds, :15-seconds, and :31-seconds a part? Brett Bucktooth, that’s who! High side, far side, near side, score!
But the game is a series of mistakes, recoveries and turnovers. Colorado was playing well Saturday night and the adages “you got to be good to be lucky” paid off with a Nick Carlson breakaway and then “good night, drive home safely.” And he didn’t even bring foil. Wonder if he is related to the famous Carlson hockey family?
Now, it’s the big three for Buffalo: Toronto, Orlando and Boston – all hovering above, around and on the Bandit team that once stood 0-4 and 2-6.
First task is to recreate the intensity of the March 12 game in Toronto and hold off what is a very talented group of players, including the NLL’s top scoring rookies Garrett Billings and Stephan Leblanc.
Bandits have played Toronto very close this year and there is no reason why they can’t find their same jive this Saturday night.
Mike Accursi, eight goals and 10 assists since missing the Philadelphia game February 13, feels the Bandits are now well-heeled and can handle any adversity. “We think our mentality, were still 2-6,“ remarked Accursi. “How did we play when we were 2-6? What started this spark that we’ve got going? I think it’s that intensity we didn’t have the first few games. Our pre-game talk is pretty much the same, it always has been, but the last thing we say (leaving the dressing room to the floor) boys were 2-6, let’s go out there and prove something. And we want to keep doing that.”
All in all the frustrating times for the Bandits this season has paid off from the players remaining positive and thinking about Bandit Ball.
“It was a huge challenge,” mentioned Accursi who went 1+3 Saturday night. “We had some good turnover in guys at the beginning of the year and a team has to find an identity. Sometimes it takes a while; takes an event to find that identity. (We were) 2-6, outside looking in. As far as play-off picture goes, it changes your perspective and I think for us as a team, it was that spark that we needed. And having John Tavares, the greatest lacrosse player ever, coming back – that always helps.”
Darris Kilgour feels the same way. “Yea, we’ve been talking about that. Know what got us here. Know what put us in the hole,” said Kilgore. “What put us in the hole was selfish, lazy play. And what brought us out of the hole was team hustle. As long as we keep the hustle and the hard work going everything else will to fall into place. That’s number one atop our board. If we do the little things that will add up to big things (we’re going to be OK).”
Earlier in the day, the Bandits posed for the official 2010 team photo. In a setting like this, you can really see the camaraderie on the team. From the coaching staff to the trainers and players, team doctors and family members, this is truly a great group of people.
Bandits Saturday night wore pink helmets in their fight against breast cancer. Every team in the league has hosted a special-themed “Black Out Breast Cancer Night.” Minnesota, Rochester and Boston where the other teams Saturday night.
The Bandit players will sign the helmets then they will be auctioned off Saturday night, April 10 at HSBC Arena with Toronto in town. All proceeds will benefit the Western New York affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. For more information click through the story icons on here on the Bandits web site.
Congratulations to Randy Mearns being selected to the Rochester Knighthawks Hall of Fame. He along with Paul Gait and Jody Gage will be honored Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena.
Soon-to-be inducted to the NLL Hall of Fame, former Bandits captain and now NCCC head coach Rich Kilgour will do the game with me Saturday night from HSBC Arena.
Cool too, the Bandits honored Darris Kilgour for his most excellent coaching adventure as the winningist coach in NLL history. A beautifully framed Bandit black jersey with the number 94 (for the number of wins) was presented to Kilgour at mid-field by Scott Loffler, Bandits director of lacrosse operations and associate general manager and Derek Graham.
Maybe there was just too much activity Saturday. The Toronto game will be a different story I am sure.