Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

Can the Bandits season get any worse? “Yes We Can!”

The Buffalo Bandits spiral into oblivion took another bad turn tonight, as the team fell to the equally woeful Philadelphia Wings tonight at HSBC Arena, before a deflated crowd of 15,336 fans.

Buffalo never led in this one. The Wings took advantage of consistent faceoff wins, hustle in the corners, and mediocre goaltending by Angus Goodleaf, who nonetheless faced 58 Philadelphia shots, to take control of this game. Each time the Bandits made a bit of a run to make the score close, such as Tommy Montour’s shorthanded netter in the third, Philadelphia immediately answered. The Wings built a four goal lead going into the fourth quarter, thank to a last second third period goal which caught the Bandits napping.

Yet the Bandits would make it interesting. Early in the fourth back to back goals by John Tavares and Kevin Dostie brought Buffalo within two. But that was as close as they would come. Defensive miscues by Buffalo cost dearly as the quarter continued, with Philadelphia answering with two more goals of their own. The Wings added a power play goal in the final minute to seal a 15-11 victory, only their second win of this season.

“It’s definitely a low point. But this season is not over. We have to bear down and win some games here,” said Coach Darris Kilgour after the game. And what is not working? “Goaltending, Offense and defense,” Kilgour shot back.

Rookie sensation Kyle Clancy was kept out of the lineup tonight despite his impressive performances in the two previous games. Leading scorer and star Mark Steenhuis was held scoreless for the game, netting only two assists, and was pretty much a non factor. “He had a bad shooting night tonight,” said Kilgour. “Accursi didn’t have a good shooting night. We missed some good chances in the fourth when it was 12-10. We hit two posts, Brett (Bucktooth) hit one right down the middle. Johnny (Tavares) had a breakaway, and didn’t bury it. We’re not playing hard. We’re not playing as a team. That’s the bottom line.”

The team members had a lengthy closed door meeting following this game, and it was a while before any of the players came out into the hall to speak to the media. Kevin Dostie, who scored twice tonight, said, “It’s about as low as Buffalo has ever been. We’re 2-6, and we definitely think we still have a good team.” Dostie added, “We had a long talk in the dressing room, and we need to think about some things this week and come back with a victory against Orlando. Hopefully the guys will show up mentally prepared from now on. I’m sure you’ll see some changes next weekend.”

While an improbable 6-2 second half would leave the Bandits at 8-8, even that may not be enough to secure a playoff berth. Billy Dee Smith, who scored one of his patented highlight reel breakaway goals, set the bar higher. “The leadership is there, we’ve got to look at ourselves and change something. I’m thinking of going 10-6. I think we can go on a run here. Anything can happen in this league.”

To turn this season around, the Bandits will next have to face the Orlando Titans. Last season this team was based in New Jersey, and beat the Bandits three times in 2009, including their playoff win where they held the Bandits to just three goals. When the season began, Coach Kilgour and several of the Bandits players had this date circled on the calendar as a must win retribution game.

Game time at HSBC Arena next Saturday is 7:30 PM.