Week 4 NLL Notebook: Disciplined Play Pays off for Bandits
by Neil Stevens | Twitter
Over the years, the Buffalo Bandits have been known for their punishing style of play, which often leads to too much time spent in penalty boxes, but that was not the case in their latest win.
Coach Troy Cordingley's crew took only two penalties – both for non-violent holds of opponents' sticks – in defeating the Toronto Rock 12-6 last Saturday.
"This was our best defensive outing in a long time," goaltender Anthony Cosmo told NLL.com reporter Steve Bermel. "We really forced their team, dictated what we wanted to be done and brought [opposing] players down the wall. That allowed me to see the ball and make easy saves. We preach all the time: 'Hard pressure on the ball and make guys pay.' We did that under control. We pounded them, but stayed out of the box."
CREDIT TO KIRK
The Bandits now go to Connecticut for a first-place showdown with the New England Black Wolves, who have enjoyed early-season success for which goaltender Evan Kirk deserves much credit.
The top five in save percentage:
1. Evan Kirk, New England, .847
2. Brodie MacDonald, Georgia, .798
3. Anthony Cosmo, Buffalo, .797
4. Matt Vinc, Rochester, .796
5. Dillon Ward, Colorado, .795
WAY TO GO, JOSH
Josh Sullivan has made it to the NLL despite being ignored in the entry draft.
Sullivan, 25, a defenseman from Red Deer, Alberta, wore No. 4 for the Colorado Mammoth during their 15-4 road win over Vancouver last Saturday night. It was his first pro game. He was nabbed for an illegal cross check in the first quarter and was quite relieved when his teammates did not allow a Stealth goal while he sat in the penalty box.
He was an unrestricted free agent when he signed with Colorado last September and he worked his tail off to make the team. He'd had tryouts with the Calgary Roughnecks, but didn't stick. His play in British Columbia's senior league with the Coquitlam Adanacs last summer did not go unnoticed.
Colorado forward Adam Jones leads all goal scorers with 15 in four games. According to the Mammoth, Jones has scored in 51 consecutive regular-season games.
He keeps getting better, as his career totals show.
Goals he has scored beginning with his 2012 rookie season: 29, 33, 39, 51.
He's on pace for 60 this season.
If there is a silver lining for the Rock in their 0-4 start, it is this: The last time Toronto started 0-4, in 2006, that roster managed to win the next six. So, a turnaround is possible.
Some kind of miracle cure will have to be found for their anemic offense for anything like that to happen now.
"All the guys are giving us efforts," said Blaine Manning, the assistant coach responsible for offense. "We had some decent quality looks again but the ball, for whatever reason, isn't falling for us right now. We've got to keep working at it. They're all quality players in there, quality individuals. We will work our way through it."
The woeful offense could be in part due to leading 2015 point-getter Josh Sanderson staying home this winter and big-time scorer Kevin Crowley being traded away. Replacements Turner Evans and Dan Lintner have yet to score a goal. Both are used primarily to set picks. Neither was in the lineup in Buffalo.
The transition game has also been all but invisible with only two goals supplied by back-end runners through four games. The absence of Damon Edwards, still rehabbing from a summer ball injury, has hurt.
Whichever way one cuts it, scoring 25 goals in four NLL games is clearly insufficient. But the Rock season is far from lost. Calgary lost its first six last year and made it to the West Division final.
No. 1 is the lowest in use and one player wears it – Rochester forward Joey Walters.
All numbers between 1 and 21 are in use.
No. 98 is the highest in use and two players wear it – Colorado forward Callum Crawford and New England defenseman Jimmy Purves.
The most popular numbers, each worn by six players, are: 4, 10, 15, 17 and 44.
DRIVING OUT OF A STORM
New NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz had his flight cancelled due to the East Coast blizzard but that did not stop him from getting to the Bandits game Saturday. He left the US Lacrosse convention in Baltimore, hopped into his SUV, and drove six hours to get to Buffalo. It helped that the region was spared the brunt of the storm.
WEEK 5 GAMES
There are five games. All teams are in action. Georgia plays twice. All times EST:
GEORGIA (1-2) AT TORONTO (0-4), 8 p.m.
This will be the second and last meeting between these teams. Toronto lost its season opener 12-7 at Georgia on Jan. 9 so another Swarm would will give them the season-series tiebreaker should it be needed in determining the final standings. Toronto has already relinquished a tiebreaker to Rochester.
Georgia is coming off a Week 4 bye that followed an 11-6 home loss to New England on Jan. 17.
Toronto lost 12-6 at Buffalo last Saturday. Defenseman Jesse Gamble remains on the injured list.
COLORADO (4-0) AT SASKATCHEWAN (1-1), 8:30 p.m.
This will be the first of four meetings. The Rush won all four last season.
Colorado breezed to a 14-5 win at Vancouver last Saturday.
Saskatchewan had a Week 4 bye after losing 13-11 at home against Vancouver on Jan. 15.
BUFFALO (2-1) AT NEW ENGLAND (2-1), 7 p.m.
These teams split 2-2 last season, with New England winning two close ones before losing by 11 and then 10 goals to the Bandits in the last two games of the regular season.
Buffalo is coming off a 12-6 home win over Toronto.
New England had a Week 4 bye after winning 11-6 at Georgia on Jan. 17.
GEORGIA (1-2) AT ROCHESTER (2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Georgia will have played in Toronto the previous night.
Rochester had a Week 4 bye after taking two from Toronto the previous weekend. Defensemen Brad Self and Dylan Evans have been activated off the injured list.
The Swarm won two of three, both at home, against Rochester last year when they were based in St. Paul, Minn. In their one game last season in Rochester, they were smacked 10-2. The last time the Swarn won in Rochester was Jan. 26, 2008, when Sean Pollock beat goalie Phil Wetherup in OT in a wild 18-17 shootout. Two players in that game, both playing for Minnesota at the time, will be in Blue Cross Arena for this one: current Knighthawks Craig Point and Jon Sullivan.
VANCOUVER (1-2) AT CALGARY (1-2), 9 p.m.
These teams split 2-2 last season. On May 2, the last day of the regular season, they squared off in Langley, B.C., with the outcome determining the third and final playoff berth in the West Division. Jeff Shattler's goal at 9:49 of the fourth quarter broke a tie and gave Calgary a 14-13 victory.
Last Saturday, Vancouver was obliterated 14-5 at home against Colorado. Stealth forward Garrett Billings sat that one out to rest a strained groin muscle and the club hopes he will be back in the lineup for this one.
Calgary had a Week 4 bye after winning 9-8 in New England on Jan. 15.
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