MONTOUR BRINGS BLUE-COLLAR WORK ETHIC TO BANDITSFeatures | 4/6/2011 10:30:27 AM | Michael Jafari
Tom Montour may not be the flashiest player on the Buffalo Bandits roster, but he certainly is one of the most dependable players on the team.
The Bandits’ transition runner gets the nod to go out on the floor during most of the team’s defensive pressure situations. Buffalo’s defense has been very solid this year, as the team has allowed 10 or fewer goals in each of the last seven games, which is the longest streak in franchise history. The Bandits have given up just 112 goals so far this season, and they are on pace to break the franchise record for fewest goals against per game. The current team record of 10.4 goals against per game was set in 2006.
“I think everybody is coming together. We’re hanging out with each other and talking a lot more on defense,” said Montour. “We have our mental lapses where we give them good quality shots, but we have been minimizing that. We’re working together as a team, which is all I can really say about us right now.”
Despite the impressive showing of the Bandits’ young crop of players, like Travis Irving and Chris Corbeil, the nine-year veteran still works hard to stay in the lineup, which has paid off well for the Bandits. In 11 games, Montour has five goals, 14 points and is second on the team with 75 loose balls. Montour credits the younger guys for adding that extra fire in the team’s play this season.
“I’m getting older now, and the younger guys are getting a lot faster. We just got to keep working out and working hard when we can, because everybody has a job. We need to keep working as much and as hard as we can to hold our spots. There are rookies in that dressing room that can take any one of our spots at any minute, and a couple of them have even played. But it makes a good team, and I really like how everything is going with the team. There is no doubt in my mind that we can get to where we want to get this year,” said Montour.
Montour’s lacrosse career started earlier than most players, which helped him develop the competitive nature he has today. From there, Montour worked his way up past the junior level and got his first taste of professional lacrosse action by earning a spot on the Toronto Rock’s practice squad in 2003.
“I actually started when I was about 5 or 6 playing in Brantford, Ontario. I actually wanted to be a hockey player for my whole life, but there came a certain age when I wasn’t doing too much in hockey, and I was playing lacrosse all the time. I started playing junior when I was 18, although I originally tried out for the team at 16 and didn’t make it. Ever since then I started playing hardcore, and I got a shot to play for the Toronto Rock in 2003. The coach must have liked something and I never looked back from there.”
After earning a spot with Toronto’s practice squad, Montour moved on to Buffalo the following year. It was with the Bandits that Montour eventually played in his first pro lacrosse game against the Calgary Roughnecks in 2005, which was a moment that he’ll never forget.
“It was nerve racking, and I had butterflies in my stomach,” recalled Montour. “My teammates were trying hard to calm me down. I was only 20-years-old when I played in my first game in Calgary, which was a whole new experience for me. You drive up to these arenas, and you’re like whoa…It was a crazy experience.”
After two seasons in Buffalo’s organization, Montour left the Bandits as he was picked up by Portland. After his one-year stint with the Lumberjax, Montour was on the move again after the Chicago Shamrox selected him in the 2006 NLL Expansion Draft. In 32 games with the Shamrox, Montour collected 47 points (17-30-47) and 209 loose balls. The transition player remained with Chicago until the franchise folded in 2008. He was awarded to the Calgary Roughnecks through the dispersal draft, but was traded back to the Bandits right away in exchange for Buffalo’s 2010 first round pick.
“I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to come back here. I was mad when I left, and when I finally found out that I was coming back here, I felt the weight off my shoulders left me. I was excited that I was going to play in front of my hometown, since I live just an hour and a half away, and the fans here are unreal. There is no better arena to play in,” recalled Montour.
One of the things Montour enjoys most about being with the Bandits is the familiarity he has with the organization. Despite living close to home, number 63 also has ties to Assistant Coach Rich Kilgour, who has previously coached him in Major Series Lacrosse over the summer.
“Now that I had a chance to play for (Kilgour) at Six Nations in the summer time, I know what to expect from him. It’s so awesome because he had such a great career, and he knows what he’s talking about, so I think he will have a good coaching career.”
The Bandits have made the playoffs in every season that Montour has been with the club, and that will be the case once again this season. Buffalo has already clinched a playoff spot and is currently ranked second in the East division with an 8-4 record. The team is also just a game behind first place Toronto (10-4). With the Kilgour brothers behind the bench and a squad that is led by the likes of John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis and Chris White, Montour likes his team’s make-up and believes they can do some damage in the postseason.
“I think we have a very good chance. I love all these guys, and I think we have a real good shot. Everybody is coming together and working hard, and you can feel the different atmosphere on how much everyone wants to win. We are putting it all on the line for each other to win,” Montour said with a smile.
Montour works extremely hard on the lacrosse turf, and also works hard when he’s not suited up for the black and orange. The transition runner is a blue-collar steel worker just north of the boarder. He gets up every morning at 4:30 a.m. to put up steel pillars and platforms for building purposes, and he sometimes doesn’t come home until 7:00 p.m. Although it’s a long work day, a lot of the guys he works with are lacrosse fans and they work together as a team, just like the Bandits do on the weekends.
“You get partnered up, and we do what we have to do to lift 2,000 pounds of steel and set them in the right spots. We also have to maneuver the big beams and maneuver those around. It takes lots of teamwork,” said Montour. “(My co-workers) are always giving me the grind, but the guy I work for is pretty cool with giving me days off for practice and stuff, and they all played lacrosse growing up, so it works out good.”
Montour’s long days of work pay off at the end of his shift, because of the fact he gets to go home and see his children. Montour has three kids (two sons and a daughter), plus another child on the way. While his children take up most of his time, the Bandits two-way player says he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I love hanging out with my kids. They say some crazy stuff and do crazy things. My little girl dances, and I really enjoy taking her to class. My two youngest boys are going to play (lacrosse) this year, so that should be interesting. That will take up most of my time, but that’s okay because it’s all for them,” Montour said with a smile.
Montour and the Bandits return to action this weekend with back-to-back games on the road. The team will first travel to Toronto to take on the first place Rock on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Buffalo will then collide with the third place Rochester Knighthawks (7-5) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. inside Blue Cross Arena. Both games can be heard on News Radio WBEN (950 AM and 107.7 FM) while the game in Rochester can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 13.