Features | 4/27/2011 3:03:56 PM | Michael Jafari
| Roger Vyse (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
Earning a roster spot on a National Lacrosse League team can be a grind, but there are certain players who just have the talent and determination to become a regular contributor to his team.
One of those players is forward Roger Vyse, who is currently in his sixth season with the Buffalo Bandits. Aside from playing in Major Series Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse in the offseason, Vyse has spent his entire NLL career with the Bandits and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Growing up, Buffalo was the place to be, and I am glad I had an opportunity to play here. Basically, all I can do is my best to stay in the lineup and help out the team as much as I can. Everything has worked out great so far,” Vyse said with a smile. “It’s been great, and I wouldn’t trade any minute of it. Hopefully, I can retire here, too. It’s great.”
Bandit fans may know the forward better as Roger “Miami” Vyse, which is a nickname that Bandits P.A. Announcer Chris Swenson frequently refers to him as. In addition to the nickname, Vyse is also one of the few players with his only goal song, which is the theme song from the old television series “Miami Vice.”
“I got a few friends that came up with the name for me, and I just roll with it,” said Vyse. “It is a good thing that the fans are behind you, so it’s great. It gets you pumped up definitely.”
Along with perennial All-Stars John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis and Tracey Kelusky, Vyse is among the core group of players that is counted on to score goals for the team. Despite playing just 13 games this season, Vyse (16-20-36) ranks fourth on the team in assists and fifth in points. The sharp-shooting Vyse is also tied with Steenhuis for the team-lead in power play goals with six.
“I’m just trying to help them get open and create chances,” said a humble Vyse. “When I get my chances, I have to put it away too, so I have to learn what they like to do and help them out as much as they help me.”
Vyse might have had even greater production this season if it weren’t for a shoulder injury he suffered back on March 27 in Minnesota. The injury cost the forward three games in the regular season, but he came back soaring with four goals and two assists over the final two games. Vyse is happy to be back, but says he still plays through the pain.
“I just wanted to make sure everything was okay because I took a big hit in Minnesota. I got bruised up a bit, so I had to take the time off,” said Vyse. “It’s just a nagging injury, and I have to play through it. It’s better for the team, and it’s a good thing I was able to come back and have a couple goals to help out.”
Playing through pain is nothing new to the six-year veteran, as Vyse grew up playing lacrosse through all the available avenues. Although he is from Hagersville, Ontario, Vyse grew up on the Six Nations Reservation where lacrosse is extremely popular. Since the sport was everywhere he turned, Vyse started playing at an early age and never looked back.
“Where I come from, Six Nations Reservation, it pretty much is a way of life,” said Vyse. “Everybody’s grandfather and father played lacrosse, so it’s the thing to do back home. I just carried on the tradition and picked up a lacrosse stick and never let go.”
Vyse played junior lacrosse locally at Six Nations, which he credits to his development as a lacrosse player. Since he grew up in a heavy lacrosse town, as well as with talented players, Vyse transformed into the player he is today. Among the players he grew up with were his cousins and current Bandits teammates, Clay Hill and Tom Montour.
“I played juniors back home, and it was just a way of life. Our team is a big part of our community, and we get a lot of support. We had a lot of good players come out of our organization. I have a couple in the league, as well as Clay and Tommy here. It is something that comes around full circle, and I’m happy they have the same opportunity that I have,” said Vyse.
Like most kids, Vyse tried to mold his game after his favorite player growing up, and Vyse is now teammates with that player. Vyse grew up as a huge Buffalo Bandit fan and idolized Tavares, the NLL’s all-time scoring leader.
Vyse’s dream of playing for the Bandits became a reality in 2006, when the organization selected him in the second round (12th overall) of the NLL Draft. The forward not only got to suit up for his favorite team, but he got to play alongside his hero.
“Growing up as a kid, I loved the Bandits and enjoyed J.T. (Tavares) as one of the best players in the league, and it’s amazing that he still is today,” said Vyse. “He is a good motivation, and it’s because of him I wanted to do this with my life.”
Since becoming a pro in the NLL, Vyse has been a regular contributor to the Bandits’ roster. The six-year veteran has posted 92 career goals, 104 assists and 196 points in 68 regular season games and has also added 27 points (six goals and 21 assists) in nine playoff games.
Vyse was a key player in the Bandits’ championship victory in 2008. The forward went on an offensive tear with 13 points (two goals and 11 assists) in just three playoff games to help his team raise the Champions Cup at season’s end. Vyse knew what it took to get to the Promised Land in 2008, and the veteran thinks Buffalo has another chance to get back there.
“Our motivation is the drive because we’re all here for each other, and we all want to win. That’s basically what you need from your team to do extra for their teammates, and that’s what we got here, and hopefully, it creates a championship for our team,” Vyse said.
Buffalo will have some work to do if it wants to get to the championship, as the team is entering the playoffs on a cold note. Despite finishing on top of the East Division with a 10-6 record, Buffalo dropped its last two games of the season, falling to the Boston Blazers and Rochester Knighthawks in the last two weeks of the season. The Bandits will host the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs, and Vyse says his team will be ready.
“I think we have a good chance to get to the championship, and anything less than that is a failure to us,” Vyse said. “Everybody is pulling their weight, and we had a hiccup last week, but it’s good to get it out of the way before we get into the playoffs. We’re going to go on from there.”
Off the turf, Vyse is a construction worker back at his home at Six Nations. Vyse has gone through a lot of changes in his life just in the past two years, as he and his wife have recently bought a new home and have a one-year-old son. Like his dad, the youngest member of the Vyse family is growing up in a lacrosse environment and has great people around him to help support him.
“I hope lacrosse is something he’s interested in, although he has already picked up his first stick, so he might be ready to play already,” joked Vyse. “It’s the same way I got into it, because I looked up to my uncles and grandfather, which really did a big thing for me. He has uncles that play in the junior leagues, so he has a lot of people to look up to right now.”