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Immediate reactions: Wings 17, Bandits 13

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

The Buffalo Bandits made a seamless transition from the end of the Darris Kilgour era into the start of the Troy Cordingley era, never leading and struggling at home in a 17-13 loss to the Philadelphia Wings to open the 2013-14 National Lacrosse League season on Saturday at First Niagara Center.

There are fresh faces on the field and behind the bench for the Bandits, but the results were the same for a team that went 6-10 last season and sported a losing record in Banditland. The offense was kept to the outside and never got on the scoring runs that once electrified sellout houses in Buffalo.

Instead, 13,564 watched the home team fall behind early and struggle to keep pace with Jordan Hall (celebrating in header) and the Wings.

There hasn’t been much fun to be had in Banditland over the last few years. Buffalo hasn’t won a league title since 2008 while its rivals in Rochester have won the Champion’s Cup the last two seasons.

Last year the Bandits missed the playoffs in a league where eight of nine teams qualify for postseason play. The face of the Buffalo Bandits—former player and head coach Darris Kilgour—was fired after a string of disappointing campaigns.

Despite great attendance and one of the greatest indoor lacrosse players of all time on the roster, the Bandits have failed to deliver.

Cordingley was disappointed with his new team on Saturday. Things are supposed to be different with the former Toronto Rock skip in charge, even if 16 Bandits return from last year’s roster.

What Cordingley and fans saw, however, was much of the same. Bandit fans know that most of this NLL season takes place in 2014, though.

Buffalo has two weeks to get things together before hosting Toronto on Jan. 10. Maybe 2014 will be different, but the last game of 2013 sure looked like what has become the usual for the Buffalo Bandits.

Hot, Fresh Indoor Lacrosse Takes
— Rich Kilgour is still an assistant coach for the Bandits despite his brother, Darris, getting the gate after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign as head coach. Kilgour’s Bandits struggled the last two seasons, and the all-time NLL wins leader had already been stripped of his general manager duties before finally being let go. It’s safe to say he didn’t leave the team on good terms.

“I have no feelings toward the team right now,” Kilgour told the Buffalo News when he was relieved of his duties in June. “The last thing I said to them is to take my number out of the rafters. I don’t want anything to do with them.” For the record, Rich and Darris Kilgour’s names and numbers still hang in the First Niagara Center rafters.

— The Bandits’ team doctor is a guy named Michael Jordan. I know His Airness is bored, but I didn’t realize he had medical credentials. Good for him, continuing his education like that.

— Buffalo was the only team in the NLL to miss the playoffs last season and they’ll have a tougher time making it this season, as only six teams will make the postseason cut in 2014.

— Lacrosse equipment is seriously stylish these days. Bandit pads and safety equipment isn’t just orange and black anymore.

Those are just leg pads! Man. Kids these days have all the cool stuff.

— They have penalty shots in indoor lacrosse when a team takes a penalty already down two men. Jordan Hall got his natural hat trick extended to four in a row on a penalty shot tally that made it 9-4 Wings at the 9:57 mark of the second quarter.

This really was the back-breaker in the game, despite the three-goal rally the Bandits had to end the first half. Buffalo never got closer than the 9-7 margin they trailed by at the break.

— Former Bandit Tracey Kelusky (pictured right) had a solid game for Philadelphia, picking up 2 goals and 6 points in his return to Buffalo after a three-year stint in orange and black.

He struggled in an injury-shortened 2013 campaign, netting just 10 points in 7 games. A former 94-point player, he never tallied more than 54 points in a season during his three years with the Bandits. He looked like the Kelusky of old running the offense for the Wings on Saturday.

The Swennie Filez
Some people really like the loud noises of Bandits in-house announcer Chris “Swennie” Swenson. I personally file him under the category of “He Distracts Me From Focusing on Indoor Lacrosse.” To each their own, I suppose. One moment that was particularly unfortunate came when he tried to get the crowd to accept a nickname for new Bandit Ryan Benesch. As he was instructing the crowd to yell “hit the mesh!” during his goal announcement, Kevin Ross made it 2-1 Wings. Poor timing. He tried to get the nickname to stick throughout the rest of the game but, like a Pikachu using Electric moves on a ground Pokemon, it was not very effective.

A Criticism of Ryan Nagelhout, Press Box Occupant
— Eats stale press box popcorn a bit too aggressively.

— He ate two boxes of popcorn on Saturday night.

— Seriously, two boxes of stale popcorn. Just eat a healthy dinner like a real adult, you dope.

Scratch of the Game
Aaron Wilson — Wilson had 46 points for the Bandits last season, and resident Buffalo.com Bandits expert Ben Tsujimoto seemed surprised by the scratch. I would expect some lineup changes the next time orange and black takes over First Niagara Center.

Stat-line I liked:
2
— Ryan Benesch’s goal total in his first game as a Bandit. He’s going to be a player for this team.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
4
— Jordan Hall had four straight goals for Philadelphia. Kelusky had four first-half assists. Either one works here.

Next Game:
Saturday, Jan. 10 vs. Toronto (7:30 p.m.)

(All photos from Robin David Brown’s photo gallery from Wings vs. Bandits).

Ryan Nagelhout is a freelance writer who blogs at The Goose’s Roost when he’s not writing children’s books.

TAGGED: buffalo bandits, downtown, immediate reactions, ryan nagelhout

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