GURT'S BLOG: BANDITS GETTING BETTER EACH GAMEBlogs | 3/8/2011 1:54:20 PM | John Gurtler
It was a must-win weekend. Bandits captain Chris White said as much. Win or get lost in the standings and before you know it, the season is over and nary a playoff seed to be found.
The Bandits plowed the field alright this past weekend, posting decisive victories over Rochester and Boston. Now, at 6-3 on the season, there is a harvest in the offering.
There was desperation Saturday night on the playing surface of HSBC Arena – and a lot of perspiration by the coaching staff on the bench, who, on one hand had to control their emotions, and on the other hand, coach a very intense game. It was the Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks in the first of three regular season games between the thruway rivals.
The Bandits scrambled and mucked, prevailing 11-8. But it took a little doing.
The turning point? When coaches Kilgour, Kilgour and Jacobs challenged what would have been the Knighthawks’ seventh goal. It looked rather innocent as Rochester’s Scott Campbell rambled in on a free pass from outside the line and scored. But after further review, he was caught with his foot in the crease and the seventh goal was erased.
That coaching technique energized the bench, which then energized the sellout crowd of 18,690, who can take credit in helping the Bandits to victory. It certainly gave the club new-found confidence going into the very next day, on the road, against a Boston Blazers club that had won four straight and has lacrosse’s version of ‘The Big Three’ (Dan Dawson, Josh Sanderson and Casey Powell).
Mike Thompson was, as my broadcast partner Randy Mearns said, seeing the ball like it was a “beach ball.” And the Bandits department of defense? Very strong and disciplined.
The Bandits had little time to celebrate Saturday’s victory as the call to the airport Sunday was 5:30 a.m. Much to everyone’s surprise, a rather aggressive snow storm took the roads back to the days of wagons and wandering whoa-be-gones (you know, customers who did business till 4:20 am – and then went to get something to eat). Even the New York State Thruway at that hour looked like a practice pad for the demolition derby, with cars sliding and being turned sideways from the thick, heavy, greasy snow.
I played like Warren Clever and just stayed in the trucker ruts all the way to the airport. Even with a late arrival from the 5:30 a.m. call, we were delayed out of Buffalo because the plane was covered in snow and needed two coats of de-icer. That process took about 45-minutes.
With that said, the Bandit players went about their game-day regiment knowing they would be limited for time, made no excuses, and prepared for their 5 p.m. game with the Blazers. Even staying at a 35-degree angle on the bus ramp to the event floor of the TD Garden for some 20 minutes (mysterious long wait for the door to be opened) didn’t break their train of thought for the game ahead.
But to have the game-winning goal scored by a trio of defenseman (Clay Hill from Scott Self and Chris White) is icing on the cake. This 2011 Bandit team is a true band of brothers.
They even stayed together following Sunday’s game, when a majority of the team went to dinner together at a fine seafood location in Boston. They even invited the bus driver, Tom, to dine with them as they were appreciative of his extra-effort taking the team there and back. They even chipped in and bought his dinner. That alone showed a tremendous amount of quality and integrity. Many teams of other sports wouldn’t even ask, they would just demand – and make the driver wait.
Two big wins from a team that is playing better every game. And they are reflective of everyone’s success.
The Bandits and the Blazers meet again this Saturday night on the Bandits’ home turf at HSBC Arena. Let’s rock the house again!
From an overall perspective, the composite make-up of players representing National Lacrosse League teams is down-to-earth, passionate and very sincere in what they have to say. I enjoyed meeting and speaking to many of the top players, coaches and representatives of the game that weekend. In addition, I had a great time doing the play-by-play of the game that had a goal scored every 64 seconds.
Broadcast coverage of this Saturday’s game vs. Boston starts at 7 p.m. with the radio pre-game show on WWKB 1520 AM. The play-by-play follows at 7:30 on Time Warner Cable channel 13, KB 1520 and nll.com. Versus will be covering the game for a replay on Sunday, March 20 at 4 p.m.