By Alex Pagliano - Bandits.com
GAMEDAY UPDATE (2 p.m.) -- Head coach Troy Cordingley knows that Rochester could present a challenge to his red-hot team.
"(Matt) Vinc is arguably one of the best goalie in the league and they have a solid defense," he said. "We have a plan to try and get to the middle (of the floor). We need to shoot smart."
The challenge, however, is one that Cordingley and his team are embracing.
"This will be a test for both teams," he said. "Both teams don't like each other (very much), and we're expecting a close physical game."
Cordingley also noted that Bandits captain John Tavares should be good to go for action tonight.
Entering Saturday night, the Buffalo Bandits have been victorious in each of their last three contests. Things become more challenging for the Bandits this weekend as the defending NLL-champion Rochester Knighthawks come to the First Niagara Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
With the Bandits at 3-1 on the season and Rochester 3-0, possession of first place in the NLL East is up for grabs.
“As far as this weekend, it serves as our litmus test,” Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich said. “Rochester is the best team in the league, having won back-to-back championships, so it should let us know how far we have to go before we can talked about in the same sentence.”
Defensively, the Bandits have improved from their season-opening loss against Philadelphia. Defenseman Steve Priolo has become more active in the team’s transition game and the results of such change are evident. Goaltender Anthony Cosmo has been consistently strong in net as well.
“Our defense and our transition game are really starting to gel,” Dietrich said. “And Cosmo is playing the way that we know Cosmo can play.”
Opponents are taking note of Cosmo’s strong early season play.
“I think Cosmo is playing really, really well,” Knighthawks defenseman Scott Self said. “I know that in the past few years, he struggled a fair bit to find his consistency. But when your goalie is playing well, it just gives the rest of the [team] confidence.”
Rochester defeated Toronto 12-8 last weekend at home to remain unbeaten. The Rochester defense continues to stymie opponents as the Knighthawks have held teams to a League-low 7.67 goals per game.
The defense for Rochester begins in goal, as Matt Vinc continues to sparkle in net for the Knighthawks. Vinc has posted a League-leading .833 save percentage through three games.
Dietrich challenged his offensive unit to step up to the challenge that the Knighthawks will present on Saturday.
“We are hoping that our offense catches up to the level of play of our defense and our transition,” Dietrich said. “I don’t think our offense is anywhere near where it’s going to be. We need them to play better this week to give us a chance against Rochester.”
Bandits captain John Tavares, who was scratched last Saturday with a groin injury, should be able to return this weekend to reinforce the offensive unit.
“He tweaked something last Tuesday night at practice,” Dietrich said. “We did not want to push the issue. Having the two extra guys on the trip anyway, we had extra bodies. We’ll confirm on Friday, but all thoughts are that he’ll play.”