Doubleheader weekend crucial for Bandits
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • April 07, 2011 @ 3:48pm
You’re saying, “Yes, of course it’s crucial; the NLL season is only 16 games long, so every contest matters.” But back-to-back late season road contests—against Toronto on Friday and Rochester Saturday—test the mettle of a postseason contender. Is Buffalo more reminiscent of the team that eked into the 2010 playoffs, or the squad that won the NLL title in 2008?
With a win against the Bandits (8-4) on Friday night, Toronto (10-4) would lock up the East Division crown for the first time since 2005. The 2010 NLL runners-up have split the season series against Buffalo; in late January, Toronto nipped Buffalo in Canada 8-5, handing Bandit goalie Angus Goodleaf a “tough-luck” loss.
The match-up between the two squads has evolved into a heated rivalry; the two teams combined for 132 penalty minutes in ONE PERIOD in the Bandit loss. Aside from familiarity—players on both teams have Ontario summer connections—the bad blood began with an epic brawl in a preseason contest (video below).
Tossing gasoline on the fire was Buffalo defender Scott Self’s vicious blow to the head of Toronto star Garrett Billings in overtime of the first contest; Self was awarded a one game suspension (appealed then served against Minnesota), while Billings missed the second game against Buffalo.
Toronto headman Troy Cordingley and Buffalo head coach Darris Kilgour, friends and long-time teammates, deny any type of personal feud between the teams, but they can’t shake the “rivalry” designation. Judging from Cordingley’s shrill profanity-laced tirade after Buffalo’s 15-14 win on Jan. 22nd, Friday’s contest means more than a typical NLL regular season game.
Check back to Buffalo.com for a recap of the weekend on Sunday morning—the Toronto game is not televised by either Versus or TWC 13, but Saturday’s contest against Rochester is on Time Warner Cable Channel 13 at 7:35 p.m. Both games will be aired on WBEN 930 AM and 107.7 FM.