“We’ve got to be one of the dumbest teams. I don’t know what to tell these guys to get them to understand that we can’t take (bad) penalties,” said Buffalo coach Darris Kilgour after the game. The Bandits took 16 minutes in penalties, including two 5-minute majors in Saturday night’s 14-12 loss to the visiting Toronto Rock.
The Rock mounted an early 7-2 lead before Buffalo scored 5 straight goals in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to tie the game. Buffalo never was able to get a lead after tying it at 7, and a large part of that could be attributed to the penalties they took.
With Damon Edwards getting a 5-minute match penalty for high sticking Mark Steenhuis’ helmet off (Steenhuis still scored on the play) the Bandits had a golden opportunity to turn the game in their favor for good. “We could have scored as many goals as we wanted on that 5, because it was a match (penalty), and then we take a 5,” said Kilgour. Hayden Smith was called for a 5-minute high stick just 2 minutes into Edwards’ match penalty, negating the remainder of Buffalo’s power play.
Billy Dee Smith was also assessed a 5-minute major in addition to a 2-minute slashing penalty in the same sequence of play in the 2nd quarter. That 7 minutes worth of penalties earned Toronto 3 goals and BDS some time on the bench. Kilgour explained that he benched him for a few shifts because he didn’t feel like just talking to him would have worked.
When playing 5 on 5, Buffalo certainly looked like the better team. It outshot the Rock the entire game and shots ended 57-46 in favor of the Bandits. It was also the first time Kilgour called out goaltender Anthony Cosmo this season for not coming up with some important saves.
The Bandits’ defense continues to struggle, too. Last year, their defensive unit was strong enough to keep teams under 10 or 12 goals, but their offense couldn’t score enough (the Bandits averaged under 10 goals per game in 2012.) This season, Buffalo is averaging 12.2 goals a game but is giving up an average of 13. “You start giving up 12, 13, 14 goals a game, you have to outscore teams to win. That’s not the way we want to play,” said Kilgour.
Scott Self also talked about the game. “We feel like we gave it away through some undisciplined play. They’ve changed the rules a bit, tightening up on head shots, maybe we’re just overzealous. I think the key (to our defensive success) is to stay 5 on 5. I think tonight we did better 5 on 5 than we have all year,” said Self after the game.
On a positive note, Steenhuis contributed some big plays on offense and transition with 3 goals and 1 assist on 6 shots. “The offense has been rolling. They want me to be a guy that pushes the ball up the floor to score easy goals on odd-man breaks so I’m going to do my best to do that,” he said. Mark scored a few big goals in transition and added a SHG that was called back on a shot clock violation.
We learned some things, for sure, about this Bandits team Saturday night. They can play with any team, even a team as skilled as the Rock, 5 on 5, but we’ve also learned that they can take a lot of untimely penalties. In their 2 losses, penalties were a primary contributor to them struggling and the coaching staff would say that the Bandits beat themselves.
Injured superstar John Tavares’ status is still up in the air. Kilgour said that they’re going to be “very careful” and “make sure he’s 100%” before bringing him back.
The Bandits’ home stand continues this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when the Rochester Knighthawks visit the First Niagara Center. Tickets still remain.
Steve, a Buffalo native, is an avid Buffalo Bandits & NLL supporter. He’s been covering the Bandits for ILIndoor.com since 2009.
Rate This Story: