Can Anyone Beat The Bandits?19 de Mayo de 2023 a las 05:35
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Spectator Sports
By Gary Groob Columnist and Co-Host of NLL Talk on Spanglish Sports World and Spanglish World Networks
TORONTO. - With three convincing blowouts this post season, the Buffalo Bandits have made a statement to the league... This is OUR year!
The Playoff Version:
Up until a few weeks ago, Buffalo hadn't been able to field a full, healthy team this season. Out were Josh Byrne, Chris Cloutier, Tehoka Nanticoke, Chase Fraser, and Ian MacKay throughout most of the season, yet they still found a way to finish first in the league standings.
The injury reserve itself could've been mistaken for an All-Star team. Now healthy, and with a few games under their belt getting in sync, this Bandits team is all business and heading to the finals for the third consecutive season.
Buffalo is led by last year's league MVP Dhane Smith (36g,96a), with a support cast of Josh Byrne (43g,50a), Kyle Buchanan (21g,37a), Tehoka Nanticoke (21g,18a), and Chris Cloutier (17g,19a). They are explosive both in offense and in transition with Ian MacKay and Steve Priolo able to go coast to coast on any loose ball. This adds another dimension to the offense. Let's not overlook Chase Fraser and Brad McCulley, both adding great technical ability, as well as muscle (when needed) to round out a very potent Bandits offensive lineup.
This group is one of the most underrated groups in the league. With Steve "Chugger" Deitrich as the defensive co-ordinator this bunch has been dominant with schemes and athleticism. Justin Robinson, Justin Martin, Nick Weiss, Max Adler, Adam Bomberry, Bryce Sweeting, Matt Spanger and Ethan O'Connor are a bruising group that can shut down the best of offenses at any time.
What more can be said about Matt Vinc that hasn't already been said. An eight time goalie of the year, and three time NLL champion, Vinc is soon to be first ballot Hall of Famer. His leadership on and off the floor is invaluable to the business of winning a championship.
Making A Statement:
In three games this post season, the Bandits have outscored their opponents 51- 21, going 3-0 to this point. They have been dominant on both sides of the ball, but more importantly been able to keep their composure through everything in this playoff run.
If Buffalo can keep healthy and focused, it will be very difficult for either Calgary or Colorado to upset the regular season champions. With John Tavares at the helm as head coach, this team should be able to break the curse that has haunted them since their last championship in 2008.