Oh, what a night
At 10-1 on the season, the Bandits are coming off their most significant margin of victory in a long time with the 17-5 decision over Philadelphia.
There were some great goals scored last Saturday night, plus stellar defensive play and the outstanding netminding of Matt Vinc.
It was a near-perfect game.
“Watch the highlights as much as you want, but don’t get caught reading the headlines and your press clippings,” coaches from every sport would say following a big win, atop an exemplary record already.
It’s yesterday’s news, and there is still a lot of lacrosse to be played. I’m staying with the mindset of the late Al Davis: “Just win, baby.”
“Yeah, we’re 10-1, so anything can happen in the last part of the season. You can see teams like Texas winning their last 3 games. Albany beat San Diego, and they took us to overtime. And they beat Halifax over the weekend. There is a lot of parity, so there are no nights off. Whether you’re in first, second, or third. Every game is a battle,” said Bandit’s head coach John Tavares.
Outside the playing surface, the National Lacrosse League trade deadline was Tuesday. The Bandits started by shoring up the future with a first-round choice in 2024 by sending former first-rounder Brent Noseworthy to New York.
“We talked to many teams, and while a couple options were presented, at the end of the day, we didn’t think adding just for the sake of adding was the prudent move,” said Bandits general manager and defensive coordinator Steve Dietrich.
“This group of 25 guys deserve the opportunity to finish what they have started and see this through to the end.
“I can’t remember a time where I have seen so many great teams in our league, so this is going to be incredibly challenging for any team to come out of the East. But we have confidence in the group we have.”
Dalton Sulver was re-signed and placed on the practice roster, and the Bandits roster is set.
Buffalo calls timeout
Ok, time for a break, I guess. Not really a big fan of bye weeks, but it’s a week of healing, resting, and tune-up for a crazy schedule ahead for the Bandits.
Let the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations take headlines this week!
The Bandits will practice and fine-tune some things in preparation for the most anticipated home-and-home series in the NLL this season with the Halifax Thunderbirds on March 26 and 27.
Note: The March 26 game is now scheduled for 1 p.m. inside the Key Bank Center.
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Halifax, too, is off this week, so you can be sure they will be fit to go and ornery as ever looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
While rest is essential, the Bandits will be staying in shape as they prepare for four games in eight nights, starting with the stand against Halifax. With all the travel between, including trips to Philadelphia and Denver, stamina and conditioning will be critical.
“We do an excellent job making sure that we are conditioned and staying in shape throughout the season no matter what,” said Bandits forward Josh Bryne.
It’s about depth, and the Bandits have cultivated their roster with players sprinkled in and out of the lineup.
“It’s a challenge that we are going to meet head-on, making no excuses, and remembering, it’s one game at a time. We need to dig down in our lineup and give people an opportunity to play,” Tavares said.
This reads easy, but keeping the guys focused and prepared for the next eight days will be essential, with rest in between.
“The boys have to be true to themselves and be aware of the signs and symptoms of muscle breakdown. It’s our job as a medical team is to educate them on how to build that muscle back up safely and healthily,” said Bandit’s head trainer Ryan Rajk, MS, ATC. “Keeping the athletes on the field as healthy as possible is our main goal.”
Ok, another peek
With scoring chances by both teams in the first quarter, below is a trio of scoring chances, which pays a dividend at the end.
With the score of 1-0, Philadelphia, watch Chase Fraser run with the ball and stage a scoring attempt from behind the net. Tehoka Nanticoke gathers the ball from the far corner and drives to the net. Wings goaltender Zach Higgins makes an excellent save.
Josh Byrne gathers the rebound passes to Dhane Smith. Fraser goes with a pick-and-roll and breaks free, finally getting the ball from Smith. Fraser takes to the air and gets hit in mid-flight but scores.
How about the pick-six style score by Ian MacKay!
And the rookie Tehoka Nanticoke with his beast-mode to the Wings net. His fourth of five on the night.
All in a night’s work.
Have a great week.