MOV’EM UP, MOV’EM OUT
The magnificent TRAC center in Oakville, Ontario, was the hubbub of activity over this past weekend, hosting several NLL clubs for training camp and preseason games.
Two indoor fields are being trampled from morning until late night with teams including Toronto, Colorado, New York, Albany, Georgia, Rochester, Philadelphia, and yes, the Bandits.
Maybe I missed a team as they herded in and out of the complex like a cattle drive coming down from the high range.
In addition, the National Lacrosse League referees were going through their training camp, which was observed by Brian Lemon, the league’s executive vice president of lacrosse operations.
CHAMPS HIT THE TURF
When it was their scheduled time to hit the field for the first of two sessions, the Bandits went right to work with a two-hour fast-paced session, which included lots of running, geared towards creating an offensive system that starts with a design on coach Tavares’ grease board.
The teaching then goes to real-time with one player in a position on the field and another in rotation. Then another player joins, and another.
And before you know it, the sum of all parts with five offensive players rotating and moving the ball through a staunch yelling defense looking to take the perfect shot.
The system is run in synchronicity, with two changing units from one end of the field to another, always on attack and being attacked.
These stat-to-finish tactics give players like Chase Fraser and Chris Cloutier, who lost time to injury last season, a chance to jump right in, shedding any hesitation.
“I’m feeling really healthy this year, coming down about 10-15 pounds and feeling more mobile,” said Fraser, who scored 10 goals and three assists in the playoffs.
“Definitely the best I’ve felt ever,” Cloutier said, “I’m feeling fresh, light, and ready to go.” The Kitchener, Ontario native is coming off a 13-goal performance in the postseason, including six in the second game of the Toronto series.
Cloutier works out five times a week, keeping the intensity up and ensuring the workouts resemble what they do on the floor with 30-second intense cardio circuits.
For Fraser, he’s like the Energizer bunny: He keeps ticking and crashing to the net, firing the fans into a frenzy.
“I’m in the weight room three times a week, then shooting the other days,” noted Fraser. “Every day, I’m trying to do something physical to keep my health and lacrosse skills sharp.”
JOB ONE, TWO, THREE
Bandits players not only have another job to excel in during the week but also train every day. How about making it a third job? I’m not including social and family time.
“It’s a competitive edge anytime we get in the gym or on the floor,” said Dhane Smith of the eight to ten Bandits players working out regularly together at IMPACT Haborcenter.
“We do a lot here in Buffalo. Every day, we are working on some mobility, agility, strength, and a lot of stretching,” said Josh Byrne, who scored 15 goals and 18 assists despite missing two games in the playoffs.
“I do a bunch of cryotherapy, some acupuncture. As a group, we probably go three strength days, splitting up between field work (shooting) and endless sprints.”
“I’m keeping my body healthy, making sure I stay on top of it. Lots and lots of Cryo – Cold stuff. Put your body in cold stuff; it’s great for you.”
For Kyle Buchanan, it’s all about flexibility and staying in the groove during the week.
“I’m not the biggest guy, so strength hasn’t always been a focus for me. As you age, I feel mobility is the thing I need to focus on. So week-to-week, I make sure to get the stretching in, getting on the bike, get the body moving a bit.”
And if you like Matt Vinc, where 40 is the new 20, he is the king of staying in shape, working out every day of the week. He has a humbling attitude, telling what he does to stay sharp and in such good physical condition.
“You don’t get to put the pads on every day,” said Vinc, who recorded one of his best career performances in the Bandits 13-4 championship game over Colorado.
Vinc politely adds, “It includes a couple of days of cardio, weight training, working on stuff, and trying to mimic a lot of lacrosse plays and movements.”
Vinc stays in contact with the players through group chat and always has some new workout ideas to share. This aligns with what former Toronto Maple Leafs great Mats Sundin used to do, relentlessly sharing workouts with his teammates.
You can’t deny the effort to stay fit with every player. It’s the Bandit way.
GOTTA KEEP GOING
The Bandits are back at it mid-week for a practice at the TRAC.
The final preseason game is Saturday night, November 25, at 7 p.m., against Georgia at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena on the Six Nations Reservation. The game is open to the public.
The roster cut down will take place Sunday, November 26.
Happy Thanksgiving, Banditland.