Blogs | 2/28/2012 12:58:30 PM | John Gurtler
| 2012 NLL All-Star Game (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
With the National Lacrosse League All-Star Game a mere memory, there are certainly some good things to remember from the afternoon and evening of celebrating the game of lacrosse.
The Bandits operation, led by Scott Loffler, did an exceptional job converting every detail to host this fine event. As a team, while they were in gracious form last weekend. They know a mammoth task is ahead in effort to snap a four-game losing streak.
But let’s bask in the glow for a moment.
As the afternoon weather broke to partly sunny skies, the First Niagara Event Center atrium was awash in bright orange, reflecting from every angle of Bandit fans, proudly wearing the team colors, as they entered the ticket line in route to the All-Star Fan Fest on the concourse floor.
There they were met by Bandits players who were available for autographs and photos, plus a few insights on what to expect of the game ahead. In addition to the full complement of Buffalo’s player personnel, each member of the East and West All-Star teams made their way to the concourse to pen autographs on photos and jerseys.
It was a very nice touch by the Bandits operation to have all of this in motion, which started three hours before the game. There was a large crowd of Bandits fans and numerous others from NLL cities around the league. They all had good appetites in the LaNova wing eating contest as well.
The action continued out on the turf with a competitive game, fueled by the Bandits Luke Wiles and John Tavares scoring two goals each right out of the gate to give the East All-Stars a 6-2 lead after the first quarter of play. The six Bandit players overall had a good night, totaling six goals and six assists. Mike Thompson looked strong making 26-saves in a first-half performance.
While the West team came back from six goals to win, you have to hand it to the Buffalo’s All-Stars Billy Dee Smith, Chris White, Scott Self, John Tavares, Luke Wiles and Mike Thompson. Little did the fans know they went through a pretty tough two-hour practice earlier that afternoon on the floor of the First Niagara Center with the rest of the Bandits.
In addition, a lot of the other all-star players had busy travel schedules embarking from as far as Everett, Washington; Edmonton and Denver. Some getting in just hours before the game.
Randy Means and I had a chance to interview 10 players, down between the East and West All-Star benches while the game went on, which added a nice element , exposing their personalities and passion for the game.
Behind the scenes, the Bandits operations did a great job in preparing the East and West dressing rooms, with each stall labeled in All-Star colors and logo with the players’ last name. Bandits equipment managers John Craig and Ted Cordingley ran the West and East rooms respectively, complimented with a tireless support crew.
Bandits’ athletic trainer Dr. Sherri Lashomb and her staff provided help in the training rooms.
And the uniforms for both East and West were outstanding, with many of the game-worn jerseys headed to player charities for fundraising.
Staging an event like this takes a lot of coordination and the Bandits crew did an exceptional job of producing a terrific event.
Yes, it was a very entertaining game, with some nifty goals off great individual moves. That’s what an all-star game is all about.
Now it’s back to serious business this Saturday night when the Colorado Mammoth come to town. Consider this weekend’s game a tale of the tape for the Bandits, as the team led by John Grant holds the best record in the NLL at 6-1.
Grant leads the league in scoring with 27 goals, 32 assists for 59 points, and his Colorado team is a well-rounded squad.
The competition at goaltending will make things interesting as well with the acquisition of veteran Anthony Cosmo joining the Bandits during the two-week break.
All the better to continue the indoor lacrosse celebration by the Bandits snapping their four-game losing streak. With the time off, those losses are a mere memory.
Radio broadcast coverage of Saturday nights Bandits/Mammoth game starts at 7 p.m. with the pre-game show on KB1520 AM and the NLL Network. The opening face-off is set for 7:30 p.m. as always.