This past Saturday marked the opening of Buffalo Bandits training camp at the
Toronto Rock Athletic Center in Oakville, Ontario. They began preparing for the upcoming season a full 598 days since the last time they were together, when the 2019-20 NLL season was paused and later canceled due to the pandemic.
So much has changed since then, but the important role that sports fanhood plays in the lives of Western New Yorkers remains a constant. The Bills and Sabres have both begun their seasons, and now – at long last – the Bandits will join them.
“We’re really excited to be back and getting ready for the start of the season,” said Bandits captain Steve Priolo. “I feel that I am in the best shape of my career. 19 months is a long time, buts it’s also an opportunity to recover, mentally and physically, and find new ways to push my body and be ready for the upcoming season. The compete level will be great.”
The current Bandits roster has over 30 players, so the team will use the month of November to review two years’ worth of drafted players, free agents and trade acquisitions. With a lineup that was already incredibly talented before the offseason, competition for spots will be tough.
“I’m expecting to see a very competitive camp as the guys understand that there is a limited number of positions available on the roster,” said Bandits head coach John Tavares. “It’s definitely going to be difficult to make the Bandits this season. We will have a lot of tough decisions to make, but it’s a good problem to have.”
The majority of the training camp sessions will be held at the TRAC, including a preseason game against Saskatchewan on November 14.
The roster cut-down date is Sunday, November 28, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the club doesn’t narrow things down early.
“After being away for so long I believe it is best to get down to our final roster fairly quickly,” said Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich. “We will use the second exhibition game and all remaining practices to continue to fine tune things and get enough reps in to be ready to finally bring the Champions Cup back where it belongs to Banditland.”
It all starts Saturday, December 4 when the Bandits host the Calgary Roughnecks, a rematch that should provide plenty of intensity as the return to Banditland commences.
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