Features | 1/8/2014 9:21:37 AM | Alex Pagliano
| Ryan Benesch (Credit: Bill Wippert)|
When Ryan Benesch found out that the Buffalo Bandits had traded for him in July, the forward relished the opportunity. Having grown up in Kitchener, Ont., he was already quite familiar with the franchise.
“Having a chance to come back to Buffalo was something that I was not going to pass up,” he said. “The fans are awesome. They’re loud. That’s what we need and what we come to expect here.”
The 28-year-old forward came to Buffalo already regarded as one of the top players in the NLL. The forward scored a league-high 95 points (46+49) in 2011 with Minnesota and recorded 84 points (34+50) for the Swarm last season. He earned that star reputation early on when he was named NLL Rookie of the Year in 2007 with Toronto. He posted 58 points (33+25) that year.
After an impressive camp with the Bandits, Benesch opened the 2014 regular season with a strong performance, recording three points (2+1) in Buffalo’s opening night loss to Philadelphia. But after the game, Benesch was less than enthusiastic about his own production.
“Individual statistics mean nothing. This is a team game,” he said. “…Our success comes down to whether we stick to our plan. As long as we stick to [our plan], we should be fine. [Coach Troy Cordingley] stresses that all five of us [on the floor] are working for one of us to take that perfect shot each time down the floor.”
The lack of cohesion coming out the front door was apparent; the team, according to Benesch, could have struggled from teammates not knowing each other’s game.
“I think we need to learn how to play to each other’s strengths,” he said. “We did not move the ball like we were told and we kind of have to go back and look into the mirror and ask ourselves if we’re playing for the team or playing for ourselves.”
The front door featured three new faces against Philadelphia: Benesch, summer acquisition Joe Resetarits and newly minted forward Mark Steenhuis. Few would argue about the amount of talent the Bandits possess and the week in between games comes at an opportune time for a unit looking to figure things out early in the season.
“We have to be one of the hardest-working teams in the league,” Benesch said. “We’re looking ahead to this weekend. We'll go over the game film and correct some of our mistakes. We had a plan that we did not stick to. And come Friday, we’ll be sticking to that plan 100 percent.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, Benesch remains confident that the team will experience success if it comes together as one cohesive unit.
“[When we] come together as a team, we’ll be all right. We’re all brothers. We’re all family,” he said. “And, until we are willing to fight for each other as family, we’re not going to be a great team, we’ll be a good team. But as soon as we buy into that family mentality, we’ll be a great team.”