By AARON GARLAND
Niagara Gazette — Just a week after getting blown out by the Rochester Knighthawks at the First Niagara Center last Saturday, the Buffalo Bandits have a chance at redemption.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow — this time at 7:30 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena.
The Knighthawks won last Saturday’s matchup, 15-7, to force a second-place tie with the Bandits in the National Lacrosse League East Division, both teams sitting at 3-3.
“We’re excited for Saturday night to play Rochester again,” Bandits transition player David Brock said. “They came into our arena and pushed us around pretty good, so I think this weekend we definitely need to execute a little bit better. … We need to focus and stay with our game plan, and I think we can be successful.”
Last Saturday’s debacle was the Bandits’ second consecutive loss, prompting head coach Darris Kilgour to tweak this weekend’s lineup. All changes for this weekend are not yet finalized, but Kilgour hopes a new approach will end his team’s skid.
“Obviously, we weren’t happy with the outcome of the game (against Rochester last week),” Kilgour said. “So we’re definitely going to be putting some other people in there, giving some people a look and putting guys in and out all year until we find the lineup that seems most cohesive.”
One roster move is certain, though. Buffalo signed free agent goalie Scott Komer earlier this week, as backup goaltender Kurtis Wagar will not be available after suffering an injury during last week’s game. Komer was a ninth-round draft pick of the Bandits back in 1998.
While the Bandits are regressing, Rochester has won their last three after starting the year 0-3. They are starting to gain the form that won them the NLL championship last year, with top scorer Cody Jamieson leading the surge.
The Knighthawk forward was dominant last week, netting two goals to go with seven assists. He is fourth in the league with 33 point on the season. Dan Dawson is second on the team with 27 points (six goals, 21 assists).
The two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions at the moment. However, the Bandits are not being overlooked by their rivals, as they know Buffalo is capable of turning things around quickly.
“We know that the Bandits weren’t at their best last weekend,” Rochester head coach Mike Hasen said. “We have all the respect for them and we know they’re going to come out even harder to prove a point that last week was an anomaly on their side of things.”
Kilgour noted after last week’s game with Rochester that his team was outplayed in every aspect of the game. After a week to prepare for the rematch, Kilgour is confident they can bounce back.
“In all areas I think we just need to compete at a higher level,” Kilgour said. “… We talked about it, and I think the guys are ready for the challenge.”
Buffalo has had balanced scoring all year, with the transition game having a presence in the offensive zone. Last game against the Knighthawks, three of the seven goals came by virtue of a defenseman or transition player.
The back door getting involved in the scoring has contributed greatly to the team’s three wins. A continuation of that trend could go a long way for the Bandits tomorrow night.
“I think that’s an area that we have some good athletes, in the defensive end,” Brock said. “… I think that in today’s game, they’re going to be high-scoring games, and I think we need to get as much help — guys scoring all over.”
This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams. Buffalo won the first matchup, 14-13, on Jan. 19.