The Buffalo Bandits played a game Saturday night that everyone, including Coach Darris Kilgour, had been waiting for. Their 10-6 win over the Rochester Knighthawks finally saw a game where their offense, defense, transition and goaltending all showed up. As a team, they fixed whatever went wrong in the previous week–a 15-7 loss to Rochester at home. After the game, down in the locker room area, there was an incredibly positive attitude. Kilgour, who is very honest about his team and a realist, often still picks about something his team could do better even after a win. There was none of that. He was incredibly pleased with his team’s effort. Even his interactions with the players in the hallway were all compliments and kudos.
“What a difference a week makes. We had a higher compete rate,” said Kilgour after the game. “That’s the defense we expect. We’ve been saying that if we played good defense in from of Cosmo, we knew he’d be alright.” Cosmo stopped 54 of the 60 shots he faced.
Kilgour also talked about the ability to clean up penalties against Rochester in Buffalo’s first game without taking a major. “We just settled down. We didn’t force too much. It was a lot calmer on the bench and calmer on the floor.”
Anthony Cosmo was all smiles after the game. “Our defense played incredible in front of me,” he said. “When you’ve got confidence and things are going your way, everything becomes big and goes in slow motion.” Cosmo consistently made big saves, including some quick 1-2 rebound chances. He got off to a great start, giving up just one goal in the first quarter. Buffalo’s defense and Cosmo’s saves had many of the Knighthawks’ shooters visibly frustrated throughout the night.
Luke Wiles had a breakout game with a hat trick. His inability to cross the border to practice (awaiting his green card paperwork to process) may be hindering his game. He gave a ton of credit to the players around him for his success. “I think we were overworking instead of working smart the last couple weeks,” Wiles said. It was easy to tell that he was relieved after a solid game. “For us it was real important to get in and get out of the middle. It was a great all-around effort.” Buffalo found a ton of success with cutters up the middle scoring goals right on the doorstep.
The locker room seemed split heading into the bye week. Kilgour and Wiles said they were looking forward to some rest and recovery while Coz said he wants to keep playing after a game like that. Dhane Smith said he was torn, though he was looking forward to some time off, he wanted to build on the big win.
The Bandits have the week off heading into a Thursday/Friday back to back at Toronto and hosting Philly on February 28th and March 1st. The win gave the Bandits sole possession of 2nd place in the East looking up at the Toronto Rock.
Steve, a Buffalo native, is an avid NLL and Buffalo Bandits supporter.
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