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Bandits - Swarm Live-blog

blog by BuffaloDotCom  • 

Pre-game - Good evening, all - the Buffalo Bandits return home tonight to face the NLL West Division leader Minnesota after splitting two games with Toronto.

Pre-game - The Bandits desperately need to spark their sluggish offense after only finishing five chances in 55 shots in the 8-5 loss last Saturday.  Minnesota’s electric offense, paced by Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford, will be yet another challenge for a Buffalo backline sans Billy Dee Smith and Scott Self (suspended for his hit on Garrett Billings two weeks ago).

Pre-game - James Purves, a defenseman (#98), fills Self’s spot in the defensive rotation tonight.  We’ll see how much playing time he receives from Darris Kilgour.

Pre-game - It’s a pity that Self has to miss tonight’s contest, as he was traded from the Swarm to Buffalo along with Jay Thorimbert during the offseason - there’d be extra incentive to excel tonight for Self if he were in the lineup.

Pre-game - Inactives tonight for Buffalo - Tom Montour, Kyle Clancy, and Ian Llord (and Self, too).  For Minnesota, Zack Greer, Matt Kelly, and Brock Boyle won’t suit up.  Chris White remains the Bandits’ captain, while Aaron Wilson, Mat Giles, and Eric Pacey serve as co-captains for the Swarm.

Pre-game - Yet again in 2011, Minnesota will sport their terrible jerseys - instead of a white base, they’re wearing a predominantly navy blue jersey with alternating black and yellow (cue Wiz Khalifa) stripes on the sleeves and shoulders (representing a bee, I know).  Still, they’re startling and tough on the eyes.

Pre-game - It’s true that the Kilgours were focused on releasing the offensive firepower that’s been squelched the last few weeks - there’s no shortage of scoring ability in Tavares, Kelusky, Resetarits, and Vyse - but defense will certainly be a tough test tonight.

Pre-game - With Self and Smith missing, experience and toughness will be concerns - much of the leadership and toughness burden will fall on veteran Chris White.  Purves, Corbeil, Hill, Gibson, Priolo, and Travis Irving provide some grit, but can they manage against the NLL leader in ppg, Ryan Benesch?

Pre-game - Mike Thompson starts in goal for the Bandits - he sat in the team’s road loss at Toronto.  Angus Goodleaf put in a stellar performance, and there was indecision in Rich Kilgour’s voice when he said he’d go back to Thompson, but Big Mike will be between the pipes tonight.

Pre-game - We’re five minutes away from face-off between the 2-2 Bandits and the 3-1 Swarm.  Minnesota’s lone blemish comes against the Rochester Knighthawks - 11-10 in OT - in the opening game of 2011.  Minnesota followed up the narrow defeat with a 16-8 drubbing of the Washington Stealth - it’s not often you see 8 goal margins in the NLL.

Pre-game - Buffalo keeps a three man practice squad throughout the year - Purves is a recent call-up from that group.  Wayne Van Every (a 6’1 forward) and defender Ben McCullough (5’10) are the others.

Pre-game - Tara Minogue just wrapped up a rousing rendition of the national anthems - Darris Kilgour is pictured on the jumbotron with a dapper beige suit and his usual Armani glasses.  We care about style here at Buffalo.com.

14:45 - Brandon Francis wins the opening faceoff cleanly, and here we go.  Tavares eludes Andrew Suitor down the right baseline but is awarded a crease violation.  Thompson saves the first Minnesota shot of the evening with little trouble too.

13:51 - Chad Culp slings a shot at Nick Patterson, who eats up the ball with his pads - no rebound.  James Purves picks up a loose ball and heads to the bench.

13:12 - Goal, Buffalo!  John Tavares - unleashes a shot between the faceoff circles past a slow-to-react Nick Patterson.  1-0 Buffalo on a rocket from the team’s all time leading scorer.

12:39 - Tim Campeau bounces a shot wide, and Buffalo heads the other way.  Kelusky breaks out on an odd-man rush but pings the crossbar with his try.

12:08 - Buffalo goalie Mike Thompson sprawls across his crease to deflect a shot - there’s nary an opening for Minnesota shooters to aim at, his pads are so big.  Tavares tries to bounce another by Patterson - this time the Swarm keeper stands his ground.

11:08 - Two consecutive violations - one on each team - has the ball back in Buffalo’s possession.  Tavares tries to pick out a cutting Roger Vyse, but his pass is knocked aside by a defender.  Low-percentage pass.

10:18 - The second illegal pick in as many trips for Minnesota - Callum Crawford continues to lurk along the perimeter.  Illegal screen now on Buffalo, as Travis Hill bit the dust.

9:27 - Hasek-esque save by Nick Patterson on Brett Bucktooth, who had a clear lane to the net.  Aaron Wilson, one of Minnesota’s primary offensive threats, knots the score at one by sneaking a shot over Thompson’s left shoulder from just outside the crease. 1-1.

8:22 - Resetarits and Thenhaus both register shots on net - Kelusky scooped up the loose ball between the two.  Buffalo’s not struggling to get shots off, but their accuracy leaves much to be desired.  Patterson has stopped several shots with his body.

7:34 - Sean Pollock underhands a shot towards Thompson, who ricochets the ball away with his blocker.  Buffalo ball.

7:08 - Pretty give-and-go between Culp and Tavares puts the Bandits back in front!  Culp slipped a pass in to Tavares in the right corner before slashing to the net - when the double team collapsed on Tavares, he flipped a pass to Culp wide open in front.  Culp bounced the ball softly between the legs of Patterson for the game’s second goal.

6:40 - Just like that, it’s 3-1 Buffalo, as rugged defenseman Chris Corbeil gets in the scoring column.  Brett Bucktooth fired a shot from beyond the white line, and it caromed off the crossbar - Corbeil was first to the rebound, and he deposited the shot over Patterson’s left shoulder.

5:14 - The Bandits are creating chances at will tonight - especially in the last five minutes.  Patterson just robbed Brett Bucktooth on a breakaway after the Buffalo forward was left uncovered in transition.

4:36 - Patterson must feel helpless, as Brenden Thenhaus picked out the upper right corner and made no mistake with his blast.  4-1, and the Buffalo offense is rolling right now.  Assist to Brandon Francis and Johnny Tavares.

3:54 - Wow - an “and-one” goal - if there was such thing - for Minnesota.  Joe Cinosky pitches a pass to Ryan Benesch 15 feet from goal, and Benesch skids a bouncer through the wickets of Thompson before getting pummeled to the turf.  4-2 Buffalo.

3:34 - The Swarm defense refuses to defend - Kelusky was denied again by the stone wall that is Nick Patterson - the keeper’s been hung out to dry by a sluggish defense, and he’s bailed them out (despite conceding four goals - there could have been 4-5 more).  Boy, do they miss Self and Thorimbert.

:41 - How can a stout penalty kill get better?  By scoring shorthanded goals - Chris Corbeil tacks on his second goal of the night down a man - he burst out in transition and slotted a shot over Patterson’s right shoulder.

:41 - Two fights too since we began experiencing technical difficulties - Brandon Francis held the upper hand in a bout against Rory Smith, and James Purves earned the admiration of Buffalo fans by dropping the gloves against Sean Pollock.  Tyler Hass heads to the box for Minnesota - two minute power play for Buffalo, who leads 5-2.

:41 - Crowded penalty box right now - and the minors/misconducts are still being sorted out by the weary officials.  There’s not the same hatred as the Bandit - Rock rivalry, but these teams aren’t on friendly terms either.  Patterson denies Kelusky’s shot, after the veteran tried to beat the goalie high.  Minnesota holds for the final shot of the period.

:01 - Benesch takes his eyes off a Callum Crawford pass - it bounces between his legs and into the corner - Buffalo takes over and runs out the clock.  17-7 Buffalo leads in shots on goal after one.

—————————————————————————-End of First Quarter, Buffalo 5-2——————————————————-

15:00 - The Bandits equaled their total output in four quarters against Toronto in fifteen minutes tonight.  The offense took pressure off the defenders by jumping out to a 4-1 lead - Benesch has looked out of form in the early-going despite one pretty goal.

15:00 - The Bandettes are bringing their A-game tonight, too.  Too bad you can’t see it!  Ha.

14:34 - Thenhaus doesn’t expect Steenhuis’ over the shoulder pass - it’s a turnover.  Andrew Watt blisters a shot into the pads of Thompson, but the Swarm buzz to the loose ball.  Aaron Wilson is smothered by a double team, led by Brett Bucktooth, and the Bandits force a turnover.

13:35 - Kelusky tries a swim move to beat a defender - but backs off.  Mark Steenhuis flips a quick shot towards Patterson, but the goalie reacts quickly to parry the shot away.

13:00 - Thompson thwarts a glorious attempt by Benesch just outside the crease - fantastic job making himself “look big” in net.  Kelusky jukes into the heart of the Swarm defense and is dragged down from behind by Andrew Suitor.

12:46 - Buffalo power-play - two minutes for holding on Suitor.  Two on one chance by Jon Sullivan, but Thompson is too quick again, kicking his left leg out to deny the transition attempt.  Buffalo still holds a 5-2 advantage.  Clay Hill finishes his check nicely on Benesch’s short-handed attempt to the right of goal.

11:03 - Not the smoothest power play by Kilgour’s club - the Bandits do see a goal waved off, however, but Darris Kilgour challenges the call immediately by tossing out the flag from the bench.

10:51 - Assistant captain Mat Giles, the 6’4, 245 pound forward (an offseason acquisition by Minnesota from Philadelphia, I think) who’s been quiet tonight, discusses the challenge at midfield with the official. 

10:51 - John Tavares’ rocket from the point is officially waved off because a teammate had a foot planted on the white semi-circle marking the crease.  Travis Irving and Kevin Ross receive offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct minors.  They don’t say nice things in the NLL, just have a conversation with Rock coach Troy Cordingley.

10:40 - The 2011 version of the Bandits has proven to be a brutally physical, no-nonsense one. Possibly dirty, too.

10:19 - Chad Culp pushes the lead to 6-2 after Mark Steenhuis deftly slipped a pass to the back post for a quick-stick goal.  Culp celebrated the score by launching himself against the back glass.  Rich Morgan tries to beat Thompson from a bad angle, but the goalie hugs the post.

9:42 - Fine field awareness by Steenhuis on setting up the Culp goal - Mark recognized that the Swarm failed to rotate on the weakside - Culp was all alone for the tap-in with Patterson occupied at the near post.  Perhaps Steenhuis isn’t totally satisfied with his more defensive role this year, but he’s still lethal in transition and with his distribution.

9:21 - Culp rings Buffalo’s third post of the game - but comes down with the loose ball.  Undaunted, Culp corrals a pass five feet outside the crease - and with plenty of room, he bounces the ball between Patterson’s legs - a soft goal, and that’s the end of the night for the Minnesota keeper.  7-2 Buffalo behind a hat trick from Mr. Chad Culp.  Tavares and Vyse with the assists.

8:37 - Kelusky was just checked after the play with a hit to the lower back - his body contorted awkwardly, and he’s down on the carpet, writing in pain.  Tyler Hass opens the gate to the penalty box and walks dejectedly in.

8:05 - The shot clock expires on the Bandits without a quality shooting opportunity.  Kevin Croswell in net for the Swarm, and that’s the second time in three weeks that Buffalo has forced its opponent to pull its starter.

7:24 - Croswell stops the first shot on him, a low-percentage blast from the top by John Tavares.  Athletic move to elude two defenders short handed by Kevin Ross, but another kick save from Thompson kills the scoring chance.

6:24 - Purves instigates another scrum in the far corner, but John Tavares earns a two minute penalty for slashing.  Benesch’s bouncing shot is well-wide of the right post.  Harasym rattles Benesch as he picks his head up to find a teammate - the ball bounces off the shin of Kevin Ross and away from danger.  Minnesota keeps possession.

4:46 - The Swarm finally light the lamp with 23 seconds left in the Tavares penalty.  Giles - who was given a cushion between the faceoff circles, beats Thompson high over the shoulder.  7-3 Buffalo after the Bandits’ penalty kill concedes its first goal in six quarters.

3:46 - Argument on the floor over a deflection - did Buffalo’s defender get a piece of the shot as it sailed into the netting well above goal?  The referees decide no.

3:19 - Francis misses wide of the far post on a bouncer, but Kelusky wins the footrace to the loose ball.  Kelusky takes a shot in close - as he’s hit, the blow alters his shot and it goes wide.

2:28 - Sick goal by Sean Pollock of the Swarm - his shot fake froze Darryl Gibson, and Pollock used the split second to step inside and paint the upper right corner of the net.  The Bandits lead is only 3.

2:14 - It’s back to 4 again seconds later, as Roger Vyse cradles a pass from Brenden Thenhaus - cuts horizontally in front of the crease, and beats Croswell to the far post.  8-4 Buffalo in the waning moments of the first half.

1:37 - Nick Mendola’s radio guest this week, Travis Irving, drops the gloves - and soon drops Andrew Suitor with a right-handed haymaker.  It looked like Suitor jumped directly into Irving’s punch - the crowd loved it.

:10 - The tough half continues for Minnesota’s diminutive, high-scoring forward Ryan Benesch - receiving a pass on the right wing, Benesch set up a screen to cut inside - Jay Thorimbert broke through the screen and hacked the ball away from Benesch - and the late-arriving Clay Hill finished off Benesch.

:10 - Seconds later in the possession, Benesch’s quick stick chance at the far post met the pipe head on.

——————————————————————————-Halftime, 8-4 Buffalo———————————————————————-

Halftime - Outstanding first half from the Bandits - Darris Kilgour couldn’t have scripted a better 30 minutes of action.  The defense has completely shut down Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford, forcing them into low-percentage looks.

Halftime - Buffalo’s offense, on the other hand, has been patient and productive.  Chad Culp - an offseason addition - tallied three markers, the majority of which were off designed set-ups from teammates.

Halftime - The Bandits won an unreal 12 of 14 first half faceoffs - Francis was 5/5, Thorimbert 6/8.  That kind of efficiency just wasn’t there at the beginning of last season - and totally absent in 2009.  Improvement in that category is a major reason the Bandits made a late season push - and are out to a hot start tonight.

Halftime - Buffalo has also doubled the struggling Swarm in the shots on goal category, peppering the departed Patterson and backup Croswell with a total of 28 shots.  Minnesota’s usually potent offense has only produced 4 goals on 14 shots.

Halftime - One goal and four assists for Thenhaus, one goal and three assists for Tavares, three goals on five shots for Culp, and a goal and two assists from Roger Vyse.

Halftime - Did you know the Boston Blazers organization came under fire for allowing a halftime lap dance competition earlier this year?  Probably not the time nor the place.

13:59 - Benesch has simply been hounded by the Bandits’ defense tonight.  He misses another shot from 10 feet wide of the far post as he’s hit at the last minute.

13:15 - Terrible turnover from Sean Pollock in the attacking third - Jon Harasym breaks in alone and scores over Croswell’s right shoulder.  Pollock’s flip pass to a teammate was too high - easy pickings for Harasym, Buffalo’s hard working forward.  9-4 Bandits.

12:25 - Joe Cinosky threads a pass through the middle to Rich Morgan - Steenhuis is too slow to close on the forward, who bounces a shot past Thompson.  9-5 Buffalo.

11:34 - NLL success is predicated on extended scoring runs, and the Swarm are on one right now.  Tim Campeau follows his own miss behind the net and hits a cutting Benesch for his second goal of the night.  Benesch finished with the quick stick just inside the upper right corner.  No Bandit defender rotated to cover him.

10:40 - Possession to Minnesota.  Pollock is stuffed by Thompson from a narrow angle - Culp picks up a long rebound from a Kelusky miss.  Penalty on the Swarm’s Rory Smith, who thrust his stick into the neck of a penetrating Bandit forward.  B-O-X, BOX BOX BOX, the crowd chants, somewhat obnoxiously.

9:48 - The Bandits embark on their second power play of the evening - they failed to score in their lone first half attempt.  Ian Ott, the Bandits graduate assistant, reports the attendance as 15,001 - not too shabby of a turnout.

9:29 - The lead is back to four for Buffalo, as Mark Steenhuis posts his first goal of the night on the power play.  Tavares, running the point, hit Steenhuis with his back to goal, and Mark spun and whipped a low underhand drive that handcuffed Croswell - defender Nick Inch did little to block the shot.  10-6 Buffalo - a little breathing room.  Designed play, well-executed.

8:00 - Rich Morgan stupidly tries to start a fight with two Bandits, but he’s too excited to trade blows that he can’t quite flick his gloves off.  Double minor (four minutes) for roughing - a costly penalty on the beastly forward.

7:06 - Tavares shot is blocked, and Kelusky drills a shot off the arm of Croswell and out of danger.  Tavares can’t reel in a tough bounce off the boards, and Minnesota will try to kill another shot clock, or even manufacture a short-handed opportunity.  Corbeil wins the ball back and subs out.

5:54 - Vyse’s rifle from the point gets lost in Croswell’s pads - stoppage in play to locate the ball.  Scrum in the corner - the referee stops play to sort out the mess.  The Swarm have successfully killed off the first 2 and a half minutes of the power play.

4:33 - Terrific play short-handed by Andrew Watt - he stretched in front of a Bandit pass, shook himself free from a check, and beat the Bandits down the floor for a one-on-one chance against Thompson.  Watt tucked a shot inside the left upper corner - 10-7 Buffalo.

4:02 - Again, Steenhuis answers back with a shot that Croswell should have had.  The goalie appeared to have seen the ball the whole way, but it trickled under his pads and into the right corner.  Soft goal kills the Swarm’s brief momentum.  11-7 Bandits.  Buffalo is winning every faceoff in the second half, too.

3:27 - 36-22 in Buffalo’s favor for the shots on goal category.  Is Callum Crawford even playing tonight?  He’s been a non-factor despite seeing regular action on the top line.  Giles and Benesch haven’t been on the same page either.

2:41 - After an extended goal drought, Frank Resetarits is back on the scoresheet for Buffalo - Bucktooth flipped a high pass to Resetarits slipping off a screen - and Resetarits shotfake completely fooled Croswell - easy finish.  12-7 Buffalo.

2:15 - Two minutes for interference on Brett Bucktooth.  Minnesota finally gets an odd man opportunity of its own after spending most the period short handed.  Aaron Wilson blatantly drops a pass at the back post then fouls in frustration.  He heads to the box and slams the door.  Two for holding.  A four on four situation now.

1:36 - Acrobatic goal for Steenhuis, his third of the third quarter!  In traffic near Croswell’s goal, Steenhuis slid a shot into the low far corner as he fell to the carpet.  He’s been very assertive on offense, and his diligence has paid off.  The play is under review, however, as there may have been a crease violation.

1:36 - If the goal stands, Buffalo would be spotted to a six goal lead.  Bandit fans erupt with a cascade of boos after the goal is waved off - crease violation on Steenhuis.

1:18 - The boos continue after Sean Pollock brings back within 4.  A high bouncing loose ball was misjudged by a Bandit defender, and Pollock pounced on the loose ball before sending a bouncer past a helpless Thompson.

:59 - Tavares answers back quickly after another faceoff win!  For some reason, two Minnesota defenders left Tavares alone as he slipped to the net - Roger Vyse found him free for the goal.  13-8 Buffalo.

——————————————————————————End of Third Quarter, Buffalo 13-8—————————————————-

15:00 - Buffalo outshot the Swarm 11-9 in the third, but both teams made the most of their opportunities.  The Bandits scored on 5 of their 11 shots, while Minnesota capitalized on 4 of their 9.  Who do people do splits?  They look painful, especially the older you get.

8:08 - Shaky internet connection is killing me over here.  Sorry for the lack of fourth quarter updates, but you haven’t missed much.

7:55 - Mark Steenhuis tacks on his third goal of the second half on a solo effort - he shielded a defender off with his body before whipping a shot into the right corner.  14-9 Bandits - Corbeil and Priolo on the assists.

6:52 - Kevin Ross has his goal reviewed - but it stands.  Ross released his shot as he crumpled to the turf - he kept his feet out of the forbidden zone as he scooted a shot under Thompson’s feet.  14-10 Buffalo with just over 6 minutes remaining.

6:17 - I hate Internet Explorer too - but Firefox isn’t a fan of me tonight either.  Someone needs a 4G connection.

5:47 - Andrew Watt adds a highlight reel, one-handed goal for the Swarm - Watt broke down the right side, stiff-armed a defender, and scored inside the back post.  After another face-off win, Bucktooth responds with a crucial tally - he fought his way through a defender, settled himself, and fired a skipping shot that befuddled Croswell.  15-11 Bandits.

3:40 - Minnesota pulls its goaltender with just under four minutes remaining - this is where Croswell gets his real workout in, sprinting from the bench to the net during any changes of possession - it can’t be easy with 30 pounds of pads on (may be an exaggeration).

3:40 - Shot clock violation on the Swarm.  Steenhuis has been clutch in the second half, keeping Buffalo’s offense in rhythm by attacking relentlessly.

3:16 - Using the shot clock, Buffalo creates a decent chance, with Brenden Thenhaus curling around a screen and firing into the pads of Croswell.  Buffalo wins the loose ball - and a fresh shot clock.  3:02 remaining.

2:02 - Callum Crawford remains scoreless tonight as he can’t beat Thompson on his reverse dunk attempt from behind the goal.  Buffalo lets the shot clock expire - another 30 seconds down the drain.  Four goal lead with 90 seconds left - Thompson pushes aside a Benesch rips from the top of the key, and Priolo takes the rebound try off his snoot.  Minnesota ball.

1:10 - Tim Campeau takes a crosscourt Crawford pass and sidearms a shot past Thompson.  Buffalo wins the faceoff - a vital one - three goal lead with 45 ticks left.

:00 - Long 45 seconds, huh?  The internet connection exploded into smithereens in the final seconds, preventing any kind of eloquent recap from appearing (magically).

——————————————————————————-Final, 15-12 Buffalo————————————————————————

Post-game - As expected, Darris Kilgour was pleased with the offense’s response to having their “[rumps] chewed” (as Steenhuis put it kindly) this week in practice.

Post-game - In addition to faceoff circle dominance - led by Francis, Thorimbert, and Corbeil, Kilgour pointed to the energy provided by the youngsters he inserted into the lineup - Travis Irving and James Purves, who both started scraps and disrupted Minnesota’s rhythm offensively.

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