Banditland Celebrates Opening to ’09 Season

Accompanying photos courtesy of M40 Images

It was just over 8 months ago that Mark Steenhuis scored five goals to help the Buffalo Bandits win the 2008 Champions Cup.  On Saturday night Steenhuis picked up right where he left off, scoring four goals and helping the Bandits win their 2009 opener 15-11 against the Philadelphia Wings.

A great crowd of 18,690 turned out to see Buffalo reveal the 2008 Championship banner from the roof.  Banditland then turned into game mode only to see Philly’s Drew Westervelt score a mere 10 seconds in to the game.  That lead would hold up for much of an uneventful, sluggish 1st quarter until Steenhuis would score his first of the night.  

The teams traded goals before a five minute illegal cross check penalty to Philadelphia’s Shawn Nadelen put Buffalo in a sweet position to blow the game open.  But they could only muster one goal on starter Rob Blaisdell, with Kyle Wailes scoring a shorthanded goal.  The score after one quarter was 3-3.

Roger Vyse, Kevin Dostie and Steenhuis would score consecutive goals for Buffalo in the second quarter to open a three goal lead.  Dostie’s was a beauty.   Cutting through the middle and taking a pass from Steenhuis, he quick sticked a shot to the far side of the net before Blaisdell could move.  Wings newcomer Mat Giles (Chicago dispersal) then put Philadelphia still in reach, scoring on a nice shot from the right shooter spot low to Buffalo starter Mike Thompson’s short side.  After two it was 6-4 Buffalo.

The second half opened with a little more jump as both teams seemed to find their legs, bringing the crowd back into the game.  Steenhuis, Cory Bomberry, Dostie and Delby Powless would all score 3rd quarter goals to open up a lead of 10-5 after three.

In the fourth quarter the two teams combined for eleven goals, with Philly outscoring Buffalo 6-5.  But the Wings would not get closer than three goals as any momentum they would get, would be squashed by another Buffalo marker.

Brandon Miller replaced Blaisdell and played the fourth quarter, while Mike Thompson went the distance for Buffalo.

A somewhat boring first half was saved in the second with some very exciting play and big saves.  There were no fisticuffs on the night, but a few shoving matches along the way.  Philly’s Geoff Snider played a spirited game.  While again dominating the faceoff circle going 26-29 on the draw, he also came to the defense of his goalie and had a few words with a couple of Bandit players in the second half.

The Wings were obviously missing Athan Iannucci and the 71 goals he scored last year.  And while I was very impressed with 2nd year player Drew Westervelt, as well as returning player Kyle Wailes (who missed last season) and pickup Mat Giles, Philadelphia will need scoring from others if they will compete for the playoffs in the East.  I believe the Wings are expecting a nice season from Merrick Thomson; he provided one goal on the night.

Buffalo on the other hand, got scoring from the usual cast.  Stennhuis, Tavares, Dostie, Vyse, Bomberry, and Powless all contributed.  Sean Greenhalgh did his best to get his first as a Bandit coming up short, but he chipped in with three helpers.  Greenhalgh looked good in his return and will only strengthen an already potent offense when he rounds into form.

Other Game Notes

Buffalo was 2-7 on the PP, Philly was 0-2
Steenhuis was player of the game with his 4 goals, 4 assists
Shots were 49-43 in favour of the Bandits
It seemed the last 10 minutes took forever to play, but the whole game was only 2 hours 15 minutes. The first half took under an hour to play.
For all you trivia buffs, we found out John Tavares’ favorite movie is Good Will Hunting.


1 Comment

  1. Hey Marksy, you forgot to mention perhaps the most exciting play of the game…the first? use of the new instant replay in a season game. Can’t say I really like this technological intrusion in lacrosse but I guess we’ll have to live with it…for now. It seemed like Buffalo let up some in the fourth quarter but looked dominant in the middle two frames and that is with winning only 3 faceoffs all game. It could be another good year in Banditland, especially if the team plays a full 60 minutes.

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