“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”
Ok, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s song from “The King and I” might be a little over the top in evaluating the Bandits’ home opener loss.
But when you think about it with a redesign and some new faces, three on defense and one on offense, you have to allow the group adjustments in timing and tendencies.
“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted. There are new guys on offense and defense, getting used to each other’s tendencies and understanding how to play with each other,” said Josh Byrne. “We need to grow on that.”
Let’s go to the Video Tape
And grow, they will. Here is second-quarter action with a good Bandits defense sequence holding off Albany, creating a transition back with Kyle Buchanan setting up the play on the other end.
Watch the second effort by Byrne with his own rebound, going for a one-armed shot, and then finished off with Ian MacKay’s rebound to a yawning net.
The Bandits threw 55 shots on the net (some beachballs), and only 18 went awry.
While Dhane Smith & Byrne fueled the Bandits’ offense with 10 points and 42 percent of the attempted shots, here is an Albany defense formation breakdown by Byrne on why they couldn’t do more.
“The Bandits had good balance on both the front and back end for the first time out. Certainly, it wasn’t perfect. Offensively, had a ton of opportunities, but ran into a brick wall in Dougie
Jamieson,” said Randy Mearns, my broadcast partner and head coach of St. Bonaventure University.
Made the Bus in Seconds Flat
It took 45 minutes, but the Bandits started to click offensively, outscoring the FireWolves 5-2. Sure, The McCardle power play burner on the low side and the transition goal by Watkinson snuffed the comeback. Still, those are teaching points to learn from.
“The big thing for me is to continue to work on is communication. A lot of our defense is based on trusting your teammates,” said Bandits GM and defensive coordinator Steve Dietrich.
Remember, two Bandit goals were called back. Here is a beauty by Tehoka Nanticoke, tying the game at 9 and then some.
Ian MacKay was incredible on both ends of the floor (1+1, four shots, and 11 loosies). Here is a reflection of his strong play.
MacKay is transitioning, setting up Nanticoke after a beautiful crushing pick by Bryne.
The three goals and physical play of Tehoka Nanticoke mixed in with Chris Cloutier (2+3) and Kyle Buchanan (2+2) was a stable element of the Bandits’ attack. The second effort was undoubtedly noticeable, with the six forwards accounting for 51 percent of scooping loose balls.
On the Move
“This is a new beginning for our team. I am proud of them for our effort of not giving up, coming back, and tying the game. We will build off of that. And [continue] to build off some of the positives,” said Bandits head coach, John Tavares.
Fortunately, the team will have a bye week to shore things up until their game with the Toronto Rock on December 17 in Hamilton.
“I liked the balance we had between rights and lefts in the defensive end. Adding Kellen LeClair and Dylan Robinson helped out. We made some mistakes, but they are correctable, so we need to get back to work on that,” said Dietrich.
“I liked our offense, too. I think we played more balanced inside and out, and we generated some very good looks. Kudos to Doug Jamieson. I thought he was exceptional.”
Intensity and Urgency
Good for the Bandits to scoop 114 loose balls and for Max Adler to win 11 draws against one of the top faceoff men in the league.
“Defensively, the bandits need to continue to build chemistry with the younger generation. This is going to take a little time, but now they have the first game experience and will be able to dissect the video and get better in their defensive rotations,” said Mearns.
“The offense will improve and continue to fine-tune the systems of inside out. It’s a new scheme and will take time to develop.”
Time is on the Bandits’ side, with two games spread over the next four weeks. On the other hand, it might be better to jump right back into live game action, getting to know each other on the run.
And they also said
“Loved the way Bucky (Kyle Buchanan) played, and always plays. High energy and was the unsung hero. Scooping loosies, constant movement and getting to the heart of the defense, playing off of the Dhane and Josh.” – Randy Mearns
“We were playing catch-up quite a bit. To the team’s credit, we didn’t give up, tying it up, but we ran out of steam. At the end of the day, you need to put the ball into the net.” – John Tavares
“We went with three righties, so he (Tehoka Nanticoke) will get some more looks. He can push guys around and play the game however he wants.” – Kyle Buchanan
“I’m pretty creative on how I shoot the ball. It doesn’t matter who’s in net or what’s going on. I just try and get different shots off to keep them honest.” – Josh Byrne
“It’s good to be here. I know a lot of the guys, and I feel like I fit right in. Steve Dietrich called me and said welcome to Buffalo. I’ll see you for practice on Wednesday.” – Kellen LeClair
“All credit to Albany. They came in and did all the little things that were needed to get wins. I thought both goalies played very well, and they got one more than we did.” – Steve Dietrich