These are a few of my favorite things…
One: The Bandits have continued right where they left off starting in the 2019-20 season with the “unfinished business” motto, searing from their Finals loss to Calgary the previous spring. They scrambled and mucked like the workers digging the Erie Canal and made it back to the 2022 NLL Finals.
Game One of the Championship will be played Saturday, June 4, 7:30 p.m., right here at KeyBank Center.
Two: This is, without question, the most talented Buffalo Bandits team ever. All the right pieces of the puzzle are present to claim this year’s title, what would be their first since 2008.
They want this. They need this. We all need this! Now!
Three: The Bandits, Bills, Sabres, and everybody associated with Pegula Sports & Entertainment have joined together to help the community affected by the horrific incident on May 14, where 10 people lost their lives in a hateful act by a white supremacist.
Dhane Smith, shocked and dismayed, stated a desire to help in any way possible. Later he established a challenge of raising money for each Bandits goals scored and auctioning equipment after Game Two of their series with Toronto.
Players, friends, others, and people from everywhere followed and, as of this edition of Fast Break goes live, over $15,000 has been raised.
In addition to the hours and days assisting at the terrible scene, the Bandits, Bills, and Sabres players and staff have been there to help feed, pack groceries, and aid in the mourning and healing process. Hugs and tears were shared, tugging at the heartstrings of this city of good neighbors.
Continuing to raise money for those directly impacted by the tragedy, Pegula Sports & Entertainment unveiled T-shirts with the inscription “Choose Love” with a selection of Bandits, Bills, or Sabres logos beneath. The shirts are available here and all net proceeds will benefit the 5/14 Survivors Fund and Buffalo Together Community Response Funds.
“It was really great to see the community of Buffalo and our sports teams come together. It was a point from Terry and Kim Pegula and our leadership team that we need to set the example of coming together as a community and supporting these victims/people that had to deal with this unspeakable act,” said Scott Loffler, the Bandit’s senior director of lacrosse operations.
“You can go to the Bandits, Sabres, and Bills website and help out. And we are going to do this for the rest of the Playoffs. The outpouring has been amazing, including the Toronto Rock donating $2,500 the past week,” noted Scott Loffler, senior director of lacrosse operations.
As of this release of Fast Break, over $900,000 has been raised to be donated.
As the healing process continued, Bandits defenseman Frank Brown was overwhelmed being amongst those in the neighborhood grieving.
“It was a very humbling experience. Where I come from, the mourning process is very sacred, a part of life. Being there and communicating on a human level, eye to eye, sharing smiles, loves, and hugs were very important for this group.”
Tehoka Nanticoke, too, shared the game of lacrosse as the medicine of his people to ease such pain.
“It’s amazing what the game of lacrosse can do. The game brings us all together. That’s what I love; someone is smiling anywhere, and the creator is smiling down anytime we play the game.
“It’s terrible what happened. I know with this team alone, we can do a lot for the city of Buffalo. It’s going to be a while to get over what happened and grieve. My caption. Buffalo strong, I know we are going to get through it,” said Nanticoke.
And the Bandits rookie was somewhat of a prophet before Saturday night’s game with the outcome.
“All that matters is we come out with one more goal than they do.”
Even when it was by the hair of the dog that could come and bite you. But, Buffalo prevailed 10-9 to advance on.
These are some more of my favorite things.
The game’s first goal is so important, which in the end, meant a lot. And the Bandits had great success during the regular season getting the first tally.
Last Saturday was no different. Watch how the teamwork paid off with Smith, Chase Fraser, and Kyle Buchanan early in the first quarter. First, Smith’s shot is blocked. Second, with the shot clock inching down to seven seconds, Fraser shoots one straight on for a reset hoping for a loose ball. And one of the best at that discipline, Kyle Buchanan, took over.
Matt Vinc was stellar, again, making 42 saves, including turning aside 11 of 12 Rock shots in the second quarter. Watch some of the Rock Shots he stops near the end of the half. The Bandit’s defense was spot on too.
“Kudos to the defense. We changed a couple of things, and they were really open to it, and they did a great job. What else can you say about Matt Vinc? He’s the best that’s ever done it, and he showed in that game why,” said GM and defensive coordinator Steve Dietrich.
Four back-to-back replays here:
Bandits in the third, never losing the lead in this game. And Inspector Cloutier made sure of that.
And for the first time in the series, the Bandits went on a power play. They needed only 14 seconds to show why they have the best in the league.
And the Bandits transition? Fine, thank you – how is yours? Watch the defensive work and Vno. Oh, and Smith playing defense, turns on the burners and transitions the ball. His wingman, just like a Top Gun pilot, Josh Byrne, is there with a fly-over score.
And who but Chase Fraser with what would be the game-winning goal. Such precision and heat. Watch the Bandit players on the turf and how this unfolds.
“I’m just so proud of the guys. They gutted it out. It’s an unbelievable Buffalo Bandit win,” said Dietrich.
Rest up and get ready for the Chase for the Championship.
And start thinking of your favorite things.