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Judging the Bandits’ regular season schedule

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

With a league as small as the nine-team National Lacrosse League, opponents become quite familiar and, as a result, heated rivalries develop.

Buffalo Bandits fans become sullen (or enraged) when the name “Toronto Rock” is brought up, as Troy Cordingley’s crew has ousted Buffalo from the playoffs for three straight seasons. The Rochester Knighthawks, on the other hand, have struggled against their thruway rivals—Buffalo is 4-2 against the Knighthawks over the last two years.

These rivalries continue into 2013, as the NLL has released the season schedule. Here are the Bandits dates, with home games in bold:

  Friday, Jan. 11 - at Philadelphia - 7 p.m.
  Saturday, Jan. 12 - Minnesota - 7:30 p.m.
  Saturday, Jan. 19 - at Rochester -    7:30 p.m.
  Saturday, Jan. 26 - Philadelphia -    7:30 p.m.

  Saturday, Feb. 2 - Toronto - 7:30 p.m.
  Saturday, Feb. 9 - Rochester -  7:30 p.m.

  Saturday, Feb. 16 - at Rochester -    7 p.m.
  Thursday, Feb. 28 - at Toronto -  7:30 p.m.

  Friday, March 1 - Philadelphia -    7:30 p.m.
  Saturday, March 9 - Colorado -    7:30 p.m.
  Saturday, March 16 - at Colorado -      7 p.m.
  Saturday, March 23 - Edmonton -  7:30 p.m.
  Friday, March 29 - at Toronto -  7 p.m.

  Saturday, April 6 - at Minnesota -  7 p.m.
  Saturday, April 13 - at Washington -  7 p.m.
  Saturday, April 20 - Rochester -  7:30 p.m.

Schedule notes:

—GM Steve Dietrich’s squad faces Rochester in consecutive weeks home and then away (Feb. 9 and 16) and challenges 2012 West Division regular season runners-up Colorado for two straight weeks (March 9 and 16). Because both opponents are expected to be strong again, these four weeks could be decisive in determining if the Bandits are comfortable contenders or barely a playoff team like in 2012.

—The Bandits dodge Calgary, the West Division regular season champions last season, on the schedule, but travel to Washington, Colorado and Minnesota late in the season. With a glass-half-full glance, however, Buffalo doesn’t travel anywhere other than Rochester and Toronto from Jan. 12 until March 16. Will they be able to take advantage of a lax early season road schedule?

Important dates for individual players: Goalie Anthony Cosmo returns to Minnesota—the city where he refused to suit up—on April 6, while new acquisition Shawn Williams faces his former Edmonton mates on March 23 at the First Niagara Center. Well-traveled Jamie Rooney faces a former team in 10 of the Bandits’ 16 games, which is a little outrageous.

Date to circle: April 20. Sure, it’s the final game of the regular season, and the match-up with Rochester could possibly be meaningless. Still, the stage is set for an epic clash at the First Niagara Center, whether it’s for the East Division regular season crown or simply a place in the postseason. With the retiring of Mike Thompson, the departure of Chris White and the trade of Kevin Buchanan—as well as several new players being integrated—there’s no real indication of how the Bandits will fare this year. April 20 could be crucial.

Also, thanks to IL Indoor NLL Forums user SabreBandit, the following Bandits games conflict with the Sabres:

Jan. 11: Sabres @ Senators, Bandits @ Philly
Jan. 19: Sabres host Canes, Bandits @ Rochester
Feb. 28: Sabres @ Panthers, Bandits @ Toronto
March 16: Sabres @ Pittsburgh at 1 p.m., Bandits @ Colorado @ 9 p.m.
March 23: Sabres @ Stars, Bandits host Edmonton
April 13: Sabres host Bruins 7:30 p.m., Bandits @ Washington 10 p.m.

According to the team’s website, season and individual game tickets are not yet on sale online.

(Header photo courtesy of Dave Marino from the clash between Buffalo and Rochester last year—full gallery here).

TAGGED: buffalo bandits, john tavares, lacrosse, nll schedule, shawn williams, steve dietrich, toronto rock

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