News | 12/22/2012 10:44:13 AM | Alex Beilman
OAKVILLE, ONT. -- The Bandits continued the training camp portion of their season with a convincing 20-12 victory over the Philadelphia Wings in a five-period scrimmage on Friday night. Dhane Smith, Buffalo’s first pick in the 2012 Entry Draft, led the Bandits with three goals. Buffalo also got two-goal efforts from Nick Cotter, Chad Culp, Tracey Kelusky, Kevin Brownell and Derek Hopcroft.
“It was good to get the guys used to the systems we’ll be using,” head coach Darris Kilgour said. “Overall I thought the defense was terrific and I thought the power play did a good job. I thought the game gave us a good look at everybody.”
Philadelphia’s Kevin Crowley opened the scoring just over two minutes into the game with Buffalo’s Steve Priolo in the penalty box. Back-to-back goals from Cotter and Aaron Wilson helped give the Bandits a 2-1 lead about a minute later, with Wilson’s goal coming on the power play. After five minutes of solid defense and goaltending from both sides, Philadelphia struck on the power play once more to tie the game at 2-2. Kelusky was able to give the Bandits the lead with 39 seconds left in the opening quarter, making it 3-2 by burying a pass he received right in front of the Wings net.
The Bandits would never lose the lead after that, scoring twice in the span of just about a minute. Smith made a nice move to beat a Philadelphia defender to the net and sniped a shot into the top left corner. Glen Bryan added a goal of his own to make it 5-2.
The Wings were able to get the score within one, but then John Tavares took over and showed the skill that has made him the NLL’s all-time leading scorer. Tavares received a pass on the right side of the field, made a move around the defender, and scored a no-look backhand goal to give the Bandits a 7-4 lead.
Smith added his third of the game after a shorthanded goal by Philadelphia to give the Bandits an 8-5 lead. Three goals was as close as the Wings would get after Smith’s hat trick goal. The Bandits seemed to have an answer or a run after each Wings goal en route to the eight-goal triumph.
Smith’s speed and scoring and playmaking abilities proved that he was well worth the first-round pick.
“I was nervous at first. But it all came eventually,” Smith said of his first taste of NLL action. “After I got the first one, it was all sailing from there. The guys got me my touches. I learned from my mistakes and the guys helped me out a lot.”
Goaltenders Anthony Cosmo and Kurtis Wagar both played well and Kilgour took notice. After the team’s struggles last year, any bright spot is a good thing.
“Typically it takes me a little bit of time to get confidence during the season,” Cosmo said. “A game like today really helps me with confidence heading into the season.”
The team’s overall quickness seems to have improved since last year as well. Both coaches and management admitted in training camp improving speed was a goal heading into this season.
“I was very happy. That was a very athletic team that we played,” Kilgour said of his team’s improved speed. “We out ran them at certain times. I was very happy with the athleticism.”