Twelve Years In The Making, Bandits Make Use Of Home Turf

All photos are courtesy of www.m40images.com
The Buffalo Bandit players, and fans alike have waited twelve years since their last NLL Championship. Saturday night (May 17/08), I’m certain everyone in Buffalo cared less about the wait. The Bandits, in thrilling fashion, defeated the surging Portland Lumberjax 14-13 to capture the 2008 Champions Cup, their first since 1996.

The announced crowd of 18,690 were as loud as I’ve ever heard, and they did not stop from the time the lights dimmed for intros, until well after the game was over into the streets. I have to admit that in the past three weeks, having seen Bandit Land, I now have a new appreciation for what fans of a sports team can really do for their team. I actually had chills during the pregame introductions, and made sure the camera was rolling. I decided to share this with everyone to hopefully allow them to get a feel for the electricity in the building Saturday night.

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The game itself was an absolutely terrific match. If the National Lacrosse League was looking to showcase their game, then this one did the NLL proud. Fast paced action from start to finish, some brilliant goaltending, and some highlight reel goals. The best part of the game from my perspective, not cheering really for either team, was that with 22 seconds left in the game, I still did not know who the winner would be. Portland never led in the game, but Buffalo never had more than a three goal lead either, and a three goal lead in lacrosse is nothing. I cannot tell you who the referees were, which is my way of saying they did a great job. This truly was a great game to see. I am only glad I was there live to see it.

In the end, Buffalo rode the hot goaltending of Mike Thompson in the fourth quarter of the game to secure the win. With a 13-10 lead late in the third quarter, Peter Morgan scored for Portland on the Power Play to close the gap to two goals. Just over a minute into the fourth quarter, Dan Dawson scored and it was a one goal game. From there, Mike Thompson made some incredible saves as Portland came hard looking to tie and win the game. Thompson’s heroics held the Jax at bay, until Mark Steenhuis scored with under six minutes to play to make it a two goal game again.

With under a minute and Portland goalie Matt Disher on the bench Portland’s Derek Malawsky scored to ensure Portland still had life. With twenty-two seconds remaining Portland again came hard at the Bandits, but Thompson shut the door and secured the win.

The next video is roughly fourteen minutes in length, showing some second half goals and the last minute or so of the game. It also hopefully will detail the intensity that was in the building during that last bit of the game.

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The next little piece is a short clip of the Bandits getting together for the Championship picture out on the floor:

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Lastly, I had the chance to speak with Kevin Dostie, Assistant Coach Jeff Dowling, Mark Steenhuis, and Captain Rich Kilgour on the win:

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On the Buffalo win:

The Bandits really were a team of destiny on 2008. Surviving through a rash of injuries like they did, winning big games throughout, they certainly built a ton of character. What was great about the Bandits is that while they have the All-Time Scoring Leader in John Tavares, their offense is very well spread out. Week one of the playoffs, Mike Accursi stole the show, week two Mark Steenhuis was in the spotlight, and week three Steenhuis, Kevin Dostie, Tavares all shouldered the load.

In Mike Thompson and Ken Montour the Bandits had a goaltending tandem that played great in the Championship run, with each playing an integral part along the way.

Lastly, Darris Kilgour has a team that does not stop. The Bandits have inherited his former “in your face” traits when he was on the floor. Kilgour played the two goalies perfectly in the situations where they best fit and it worked.

Buffalo is a veteran team and they showed it in the run to the Cup.

On the Portland loss:

Many talkers were questioning Coach Derek Keenan when the trade deadline came and went, and none of the Portland so called rental players were dealt to so called contenders. Well that non deal of anyone got Portland to the final game.

The Lumberjax were a goal short of a sudden death Overtime for the Champions Cup. After a 6-10 regular season this squad turned it up winning two games on the road for the right to play in Buffalo.

They played exciting lacrosse and if they can somehow hold onto these players for next season, this experience and war they went through will do nothing but help them in 2009.

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2 Comments

  1. Once again LITG scooped all the rest of the supposed lacrosse media in these parts with a great report from Buffalo . I only have one question , how the hell did you keep from breaking up on camrea looking at Acursi,s mop standing next to you ?? Fantastic report partner glad you could represent us at such a great game .

  2. Perfect. lacrosseinsidethegame.com is the shit.


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