Blogs | 4/14/2009 4:08:31 PM | John Gurtler
A Denver native, John Gurtler has been the voice of the Buffalo Bandits the past six seasons. Gurtler has also done play-by-play with the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres and has served as the stadium voice for the Buffalo Bills. Gurtler will share his thoughts and unique perspective each week with Bandits fans.
Who said back-to-back games are fun?
You have to be wired and ready for back-to-back games. Not that the Bandits weren't ready and couldn't handle the double match leading into Saturday, but the second game was not in their favor with strands of flu and nagging injuries.
Speaking of wired, I got my wires crossed with respect to the broadcast transmission at the start of Saturday night's game in New Jersey and I apologize to those who were attempting to tune into the pre-game and game coverage on KB 1520.
Even with a host of engineers and the head of Entercom's IT talking me through a pattern of trouble checks, I had to settle for the reliable pots; plain old telephone system.
The remote system is the newest in broadcast transmission as everything is transported via broadband, which means there are no telephone or cable lines attached.
Probably did not help matters Saturday on our flight down to New York when the Department of Homeland Security's airport luggage inspection pulled many of the pre-wired plugs out, including all of the power cables. I suspect they were not sure what the George Jetson box was all about.
But as I looked across my main concourse broadcast position in the new Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, there sat a fan who gave me the Tony Soprano "whad-daa-yoou-gonna-do look." That's when I picked up the phone and called the game in.
I was glad I didn't miss much when I was talking to IT, as the Titans jumped to a 4-0 lead. I did watch out of the corner of my eye the Bandits turn the tables, taking an 8-5 lead into the first five minutes of the third quarter. And the rest was history as Casey Powell, Mike McLellan and Matt Vinc fueled the 12-9 win over the Bandits.
Friday night's game was most impressive with Roger Vyse and Mike Accursi netting hat tricks and Ken Montour making 52 saves, including stopping a spectacular flurry near the end of the game. The Knighthawks gave it a good shot but the Bandits showed their playoff punch - and the "seventh player" fans roared with approval several times.
I noticed the officials made a statement Friday night in clamping down on all calls, leading into the playoffs. I thought the ebb and flow at the start of Friday night's game was interrupted with several technical calls, limiting the Bandits to get their rhythm.
General Manager and head coach Darris Kilgour corrected me and said it's their job to let you know the rules of the game, particularly this time of year.
"They try and let you know they want lacrosse," noted Kilgour. "It's not about going out and roughing anybody up. They (on field officials) want lacrosse being played and were a pretty good lacrosse team so we don't mind that at all. If the refs want to clamp down, that helps us."
Not to take away from Calgary's run and current home field status, the Bandits are still the most impressive team in the NLL. With reserve scoring power from all of the Buffalo forwards, the best goaltender, penalty killing and stingiest defense in the loop, there is something to be said.
And what about the Bandits style of defense?
"It's the exact opposite of everything everybody else wants to do," said Bandits defenseman Ian Llord. "We try to force bad passes and force shots from the outside, and as good as Kenny and Mikey (Ken Montour and Michael Thompson) have been playing, with the outside batting of shots, most of them have been getting stopped. Like last night's (Friday night against Rochester) 52 saves. It's Kenny and Mikey doing most of the work but where trying to help them out as much as possible."
It's all about time and space as preached by coach Kilgour.
"Just non-stop pressure," noted Lord. "I get yelled at quite a bit for that, but I'm learning and it's getting more fun every single game, because it's a thinking man's defense. You're not just standing there staring at each other in a tight little bunch so it's fun to play. Communication is key on our defense."
It was a good Weekend for Accursi with back-to-back hat tricks; John Tavares has 30 points in his last five games! And Montour with a 3-0 record run with an impressive .832 save percentage in his last four games played.
And the playoffs? Bandits can clinch the Eastern Division with a win over Boston or New York loss to Minnesota. Calgary has the top seed in the playoffs. Philadelphia and Rochester will battle each other for the fourth and final playoff spot.
And what about the Bandits' roster leading up to the post season?
"Yes, I really wanted to start this weekend (last Friday and Saturday) just going with the team I was going to use in the playoffs, but with the flu and injuries and stuff, we are still mixing and matching," said Kilgour. "We have an idea what we want coming into next week and hopefully we'll have a set line up and carry that through to playoffs."
Saturday night's game against Boston could feature the two top goaltenders in the league with Ken Montour and Anthony Cosmo. Both are 1, 2 respectively in the NLL stats. Montour has an 8-2 record and Cosmo 8-5.
The top shelf does not end there. Dan Dawson and Mark Steenhuis are tied for second in league scoring with 97 points a piece. Colin Doyle of San Jose has 106 points leading into the last game. Dawson and Steenhuis certainly have the capabilities to put up double-digit numbers.
Hopefully no wires will be frayed on and off the field Saturday night at HSBC. I don't want to miss a thing from here on out!