It’s game week vs. The Rock
But first, a quick caveat of the date, time, and the three Buffalo teams playing on Saturday evening, December 17. This includes the Bandits at Rock at 7 PM, the Buffalo Bills hosting the Miami Dolphins at 8:15 PM, and the Sabres on the road to play the Arizona Coyotes at 9 PM.
To the Bandits’ benefit, their game will be in progress, one hour and 15 minutes before the Bills kick off and over half to three quarters before the Sabres faceoff.
Rest assured, our radio coverage on 1520 AM The Bet Saturday night will be loaded with frequent mentions of the score, time remaining in the quarter, and a quick capsule on the game’s progression.
We know you’ll be busy following the Bills and Sabres, and we want to be alongside you when you check in on the Bandits.
Chalk Talk and Practices
Since the 11-10 loss to Albany back on December 3, the Bandits have been busy reviewing video and going through on-field practices to tighten up the offense and get the defensive crew with better communications while out on the floor.
“The bandits need to shoot better. They had a lot of outstanding opportunities but couldn’t solve putting the ball in the net,” said Randy Mearns, my broadcast partner and head coach of St. Bonaventure University.
“Every game, the Bandits will have a target on their backs, and their opponents will give them their very best effort.”
I’m not deep in lacrosse Xs and O’s, but I can point out some strong play by the Bandits in the game against Albany. In addition to the two goals called back and a couple of goalposts hit, you can see how the team came together in the second half of play.
Let the Video Show
Here is a video showing the Bandits tighten their game a little and start playing as a group. This is right after the group was stung with a shorthanded goal by Albany.
It starts with a successful faceoff by Max Adler, sweeping the ball to Ian MacKay. I’ll let you watch the rest as the Bandits mount an attack, with good ball movement and shots, still with the man advantage. Three resets of the 30-second clock.
And then, the Bandits get another power play and go to work. This time it pays off with Josh Byrne converting.
“Seems like a long time coming,” said Mearns on the broadcast.
You know what they say: “220-221, whatever it takes.” (Michael Keaton’s character, Jack, in the movie Mr. Mom.)
And this is what this team has in mind from now on. They will do whatever it takes. It might have taken a game, but you’ll hear and see a remarkable improvement.
And the Bandits captain, Steve Priolo, will be back in action!
Knock, Knock on the Rock Door
Saturday night, with both clubs coming off a loss, this should be a good, close-checking, and solid goal-scoring game.
The Rock has the same roster as last season, except for adding former Bandit Corey Small and sniper Stephen Keogh. Those two players will help replace Rob Hellyer and Reid Reinholdt, who went to Vegas.
Challen Rogers, the Rock captain, moves to the front of the class by joining the offense full-time. He already has a 3+5=8 mark on the scoring sheet. Too he seems to have Buffalo’s number with 6+5=11 scored last year.
Former Bandit Mitch de Snoo, the NLL’s defensive player of the year, has picked up where he left off last season. He scored three goals against Vancouver and 24 loose balls to his credit. de Snoo had a 20-point season last year.
And goaltender Nick Rose, entering his 13th season, posted a 13-3 record last year, already off to a good start with 41 saves against Vancouver and 32 against Rochester.
It’s always good to keep an eye on Bradley Kri and Dan Craig; they can come out of the middle and score.
The Rock’s high-powered shooter, Tom Schreiber (4+7=11), is off to a good start looking to eclipse his 86-point season. He scored six goals against the Bandits last year.
Ball possession in a game like this is so important. As noted earlier, Max Adler is off to a good start for the Bandits, winning 11 faceoffs on December 3. He’ll clamp down on another solid faceoff expert in the Rock’s TD Ierlan. The young faceoff expert went 25/32 against Vancouver and 17/21 against Rochester.
Even though it’s tough to struggle through a bye week, the Bandits took advantage of the days in between and now feel so much better it’s game week. And, against the Rock.
They also Said
“I also think that they need to create more in transition, the two-on-one’s three-on-two’s – easier to score in those situations. They had a few but need more in that department.” Randy Mearns
“I told the guys you need to get in better shape. It’s a lot of running up and down that floor. We have to show up and be prepared. It’s a tough division. There are no nights off. All the teams are strong.” – John Tavares
“I thought Nanticoke played inspired, had a good outing, and could get to the middle. He’s so strong and fearless and hard to cover.” – Randy Mearns
“I’ve been a part of multiple championship teams. I’ve won a Minto Cup at the junior A level and a Mann Cup at the senior A level. I hope to be able to fit in, play my role and help the team as best as I can to help win a championship with the Bandits.” – Kellen LeClair
On the Broadcast Airwaves
Radio coverage of the Bandits at the Rock Saturday night will be on KB 1520 AM The Bet. Audio streaming of the game is also available on audacy.com.
The pregame show will start at 6:30 PM. I will talk with Steve Dietrich and Bandits player Nick Weiss. Will also check in with the Rock coaching staff and capture a player’s perspective.
TV coverage will be on ESPN+, TSN, and tsn.ca. The broadcast time is set for 7 PM.