The Buffalo Bandits opened up their season with a split against the Philadelphia Wings and the Minnesota Swarm. We certainly learned a lot watching the team play for the first time. We saw some good, some not so good, and maybe some bad. At first glance, I think it’s safe to say this team will be just fine in the East Division and in the NLL. Their moves to get younger and more athletic already seemed to pay off this weekend, especially in mounting a 4th quarter comeback on the second night of a back-to-back.
While we’re talking about being young and athletic, we’ll start with rookie Dhane Smith. After at admitted nervous start in Philadelphia, Dhane grabbed control of the game in Buffalo Saturday night scoring the game winning goal and contributing on several other plays that led to the comeback. In the last minute of regulation, with time ticking away, Dhane managed to scoop the ball with one hand out to the waiting Bandits’ players while being double teamed. That play could have been the one that saved it because it prevented Minnesota from having a quality possession late.
“I knew we needed to get that ball, so I just scooped it up and threw it. It was great” said Dhane after the game. He also gave us some insight into the 2 on 1 goal that was finished off by Chad Culp. “I was looking pass the whole time. The guy actually went to Culpy and I still passed it for some reason. He’s been in the league longer, I figured I should give him the ball.”
Culp had a strong game Saturday. He scored some big late goals for the Bandits. “The fans are loud on any goal, but on big goals like that it gives you the energy to keep going.” He was certainly fired up after scoring his 2nd goal of the 4th quarter.
Perhaps the most interesting story of the weekend was the goaltending situation. After 8 goals on Friday and just 3 goals on Saturday, Anthony Cosmo was pulled in favor of veteran backup Kurt Wagar.
Coach Darris Kilgour explained his logic, “I thought we played terrible in front of Cosmo. It’s not on Anthony. He’s our starter. Cosmo understands. He’s a vet. I can’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings, our job is to win a championship. I wasn’t going to hang Cosmo out to dry. I was going to go back to Anthony but Kurt came in and played very well.” After 2 games, we still haven’t gotten a great, fair look at Cosmo.
Kurt was excited for his opportunities. “Being a backup goalie…we know our roles. Cosmo is our guy. We all have faith in him. I was pretty surprised to come in today after 3 goals, but I don’t get a lot of playing time, so I’m not going to say no. I’ll do whatever the team needs.” He’s a class act who deserves success in the league.
Darris and the team understood that it wasn’t a convincing win Saturday night, but after Friday’s loss they were happy to be 1-1. Darris was wondering why “we dig ourselves in holes, make it hard on ourselves, and play tentatively early in games” but he was satisfied with a win, for sure.
The Bandits head East on Saturday to take on the division rival Rochester Knighthawks at the Blue Cross Arena. It should be a barn-burner given the rivalry and the new additions to both teams. See ya there?
Steve, a Buffalo native, is an avid Buffalo Bandits and NLL Supporter. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveILIndoor.
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