Blogs | 4/3/2012 3:16:32 PM | John Gurtler
| Banditland (Photo: Sean Rudyk)|
There were some good things to take from the Bandits’ 15-9 loss to the Toronto Rock last Saturday night. Scott Self’s goal at the 4:32 mark of the second quarter to tie the game at 4-4, Mark Steenhuis’ flying bambino goal in the third quarter, Tommy Montour’s shorthanded tally in the fourth to bring the Bandits back within one, the 43-save performance of goaltender Mike Thompson during his 51-minute stint, and the four-goal performance by John Tavares, which marked Tavares’ 15th season of scoring 30 goals or more. Simply amazing.
But even more amazing was the 17,322 of you that came to the game last Saturday night. Through both wins and losses, you fans have simply been the best. And like the players, every game from here on out will be the tale of the tape. Two home games and two away games (far road games in Edmonton and the state of Washington at that).
What is it about Banditland that makes it one of the more enjoyable nights out, without having to open an E*TRADE account to offset the expenses? You, the fans.
I don’t know if there is another venue in the U.S. or Canada that has an experience quite like a Bandits game. The colors, clothes, music, dancing and plenty of smiles. Even when the Bandits are not playing well, you are there to chant upon the command of PA announcer, Chris Swenson.
Where else can you find fans tailgating in bone-chilling, snow-swirling, conditions two-and-a-half hours before a game? Banditland.
Where else can you just stand up and dance – and for that matter – dance with your whole section? Banditland.
Every year, it keeps getting better and better. Even when the score was 15-8 on Saturday night, you got on your feet and tried to will the Bandits to play better.
Again this season, you will lead the league in attendance, a recurring theme for many years.
Major League Baseball starts up this week as it revives the emotional writings from fans on their “beloved Yankees,” “raved Red Sox,” etc. Nobody wears their emotions on their sleeves more than baseball fans. Sometimes, you’re afraid to go to the watercooler the morning after a Yankees loss for fear of negative vibes and a complete downer day from Jim in accounting.
Not after a Bandits game. Everywhere I go – from standing in line at Mighty Taco or tableside at Chris’ NY Sandwich Co., everyone always talks about the fun they have when they go to a Bandits game.
And you know what? That’s the way it should be.
Indoor lacrosse is a great game that’s played by dedicated athletes who play it very well. When the timing is on and the team plays in sync, the game is a thing of beauty and incredibly exciting. And when things are going fair out on the field, you, the fans, stoke the flames to make the place rock, always keeping the area in wild tenor.
I would say the majority of fans keep track of what’s happening out on the playing surface, but there are a few who come just for the atmosphere, which makes things interesting.
Everybody too, in Banditland, has his or her own story.
Kevin Prise has been a longtime Bandits fan, which has elevated his pursuit to become a sportswriter. And he is well on his way, as he is currently enrolled at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.
“I have always been a passionate Buffalo sports fan and advocate,” Prise said. “I have been really lucky that my parents were willing to take me to so many [Bandits] games growing up.”
Prise has had season tickets for the last 12 years.
“Going to a Bandits game is an experience like no other,” said Prise, who’s now a junior at Syracuse. “The crowd’s enthusiasm; the constant back-and-forth play. The game carries a party-like atmosphere, with the music and the PA announcer leading the cheers. Still, the crowd remains focused on the game action, first and foremost.”
A game-changing play can come at any minute, which gets the crowd immediately on their feet.
“I have seen the Bandits more than any other team in my life,” Prise said. “Even though I go to Syracuse, I make sure to come home for a game or two each year.
“Both the team and the ‘Bandits experience’ have been important components in my development as a sports fan, and key reasons that I am excited for a potential career in sports media.”
On the other hand, our producer of Bandits radio, Joe Henault, had never been to a Bandits game until last Saturday night.
“The intro to the game was awesome!” Henault said. “The dude playing the bag pipes with the transition to a Korn song? That was sweet.
“The Bandettes were great. Everyone really enjoyed them. Especially when they spelled out B-A-N-D-I-T-S with their black pom-poms. That was pretty sick. And bringing out the Jr. Bandettes was also pretty cool.”
“The fans were surprisingly passionate,” he added. “A lot of people dressed up in crazy Bandits stuff. Good to see. I think if the Bandits ever left, there would probably be a riot.
“The Bandits game was really good until the fourth quarter, when that major penalty seemed to change the entire game. But up until that point, those guys really battled. They beat the [heck] out of each other. Steenhuis is a beast. That was a really good game. It was too bad that it ended that way. The Bandits deserved better.”
The homestand for the Bandits continues on Saturday night when the Philadelphia Wings come to town. Fans across America will be tuning into the nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network. Show the viewers what Banditland is all about: “Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”
Radio coverage of Saturday night’s game begins at 7 p.m. with the pregame show on WWKB 1520 AM. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.