Blogs | 2/10/2009 12:50:49 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.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines luck as... "a force that brings good fortune or adversity". For the last five games, the Bandits have been the force that brings good fortune to their standing in the NLL.
Some of it has been luck but most of it has been hard work, and working as a unit to a prescribed system. Friday night, they ran into a little adversity and quite frankly had no luck in stopping the enthusiastic Wings in the waning moments.
And AJ Shannon made sure of that.
It was a very entertaining game to watch and I am hopeful to new fans attending Friday night's game in the Wachovia Center, they'll be back with six more friends. Darris Kilgour and the rest of the coaching staff, players and perfectionists would not want to talk about the game in the fan-happy vernacular. But really, it was a good game and the Wings had their fortunate feat through the force of desperate but creative play. And luck.
"We have to play a full sixty minutes," said coach Kilgour. "Sometimes we go out there and we know we're really talented. We expect to win but you have to do the work to get the result you want. We want to win every single game we play. Were not talking about the championship this year, we are talking about the next shift. I think if we keep our focus on the next shift, we'll be OK."
The pre-game buzz around the quadrant of sports venues was not about the Struuuuruggulling Wings. The most talked about issue on the pedestrian walks was the summer musical concert line-up they are putting together for the final bow of the storied Spectrum - the building right next door and the birthplace of Broad Street Bullies.
To the Wings credit, a pre-game grumble was for a traditional bruising battle between the two war-torn championship teams.
The dollar dog feast on the concourse was perfect kindling to put fire in the belly. Why even I was moved to the concourse and buy me one, too.
In line, I noticed the call for such ballpark delights was not singular but in multiples of five. The fan in front of me, fresh from the Broad Street subway tunnel, ordered 12. Not even the standard embarrassing disclaimer to the attendant: "I'm just getting everything 'cause my other dudes are in their seats."
In fact, it was a single order with a bag of peanuts, too. And to confirm it was his order, I watched each doctoring of said blanketed dog with a perfect smattering of condiments consisting of ketchup, relish and onions.
Let the game begin.
Grateful the event playing floor was quarantined from such bargained backyard commissary. It would have been a rather slow and gas-full venture. Speaking of gas, maybe the Bandits ran out of gas near the end and rightfully so. The Wings kept the run and gun up for most of the game.
Turning points? There were several. Following a 3-1 Bandit deficit, the players rallied for a string of five even strength goals. Dostie and Greenhalgh stepped up... Even Kyle Schmelzle and Brandon Swamp scrambled and mucked for goals. It was a nice branded Bandit attack.
But the Wings would not settle and players like Westervelt and Giles used their size and strength to advantage. Greg Snider, too, set up three and scooped a game-high 26 balls! Who is on the payroll in that stat pack? Brandon Miller was impressive between the pipes shouldering and swatting Bandit shot from going in.
Mark Steenhuis and John Tarvares had nice goals of the "let's watch that again variety." The Bandits played well at times. But following 3-3, 7-7, 8-8, 10-10 and 11-11scores, former Bandit Shannon showed he is worthy and snapped their funk like the Village People in a matter of 1:47 seconds.
The Bandits went with a nine defensemen and seven offense mix for the game. Kilgour wanted to switch it up, giving the defense more of a break and more opportunities for the seven scorers.
Where was the luck when you needed it? It probably didn't help that Michael Thompson was forced to wear Kenny Mountour's face-mask for the critical closing minutes because of crack in his bucket and, too, the Wings drew two power play goals back-to-back, one off a two-man advantage from holding and checking from behind the cereal isle.
Injuries for the Bandits played a roll with Ian Llord and Roger Vyse out; Delby Powless was a healthy scratch. Llord, hampered by his heart rhythms, had another procedure and hopefully doctors are satisfied. Vyse pulled has a pulled groin and he might miss two games. Brandon Francis remains out with a leg injury.
Despite a little pushing and shoving, the penalty sheet was rather light and the Bandits first power play was not until 2:06 of the third quarter. They kept their percentage high going two for three.
"We haven’t been getting many opportunities," said Kilgour. "It's hard to get in a rhythm when you only get two or so power-plays a game. We talked about guys driving to the net a little bit harder and trying to draw some penalties so we can get into a rhythm because our forwards are too talented not to score."
So what is luck? And what is good Fortune? You must be good to be lucky. Mix belief in the system and good fortune waits.