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On The Radar: Bandits & Stealth Seek Second Win

After a bye weekend last week, the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) ride out west to face off with the Vancouver Stealth (1-1) at Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. Watch live on UniversalSports.com and TSN GO as the teams share the spotlight during the only National Lacrosse League game in NLL Week 3.

Earning a split during the team’s opening weekend with a road loss to the New England Black Wolves and a home win over the Edmonton Rush, the Bandits had Week 2 of the 2015 campaign off to rest up.

The coaching staff was glad to have a weekend without a game after a busy first week.

“It’s really nice, especially with some of the offensive players on this team to get the week off,” said Bandits assistant coach Dan Teat. “If you get seven or eight days off and then get a good practice in, you’re usually ready to go the following week.”

Not everyone on the team has the same philosophy about the time off, though.

“I hate a week off,” Buffalo goaltender Anthony Cosmo said. “I like the momentum, I like to let the ball roll.”

Through two games, the Bandits have scored just 17 goals. The 53 minutes in penalties that Buffalo has racked up could be a contributing factor to the lack of scoring.

“I think our offense has played well,” Teat said. “We’ve gotten in some penalty trouble which eliminates opportunities to score goals.”

Bandits forward Ryan Benesch is leading the team with nine points (6+3) on the year and has contributed on more than half of the team’s goals.

Saturday’s game marks the second time that the Bandits have made the trip to the LEC, and just the third game in team history playing in B.C., as the teams last met in Vancouver last season where the Stealth beat the Bandits by a score of 12-8. Stealth forward Rhys Duch led all runners with eight points (4+4) while defenseman Steve Priolo led the Bandits with four points (1+3). The Bandits will hope to steal a win to keep up with the upstart Toronto Rock (2-0) and Black Wolves (2-0) as both teams sit atop the East Division.

The Stealth played their home opener in front of a roaring and emphatic crowd last Saturday at the LEC. The team started off exactly the way they wanted to, scoring the first three goals and led 4-1 after the first quarter. However, in the end, the Toronto Rock would come back and take a 20-11 decision against the Stealth.

“We had a good first quarter,” said Stealth head coach Dan Perreault. “There was a period in the fourth quarter where we picked it up but unfortunately we played twenty minutes of good lacrosse. That’s not going to win you much in this league. We need more of a consistent effort this week.”

“We wanted to come out with a better effort for a great crowd and our home opener but it’s a tough league and you have games like that,” said Vancouver forward Lewis Ratcliff. “We’re going to be defined with how we bounce back. It’s not about one loss, it’s about how you recover and making sure one loss doesn’t lead to two or three.”

After holding the Calgary Roughnecks to 14 goals in Week 1, the Stealth allowed Toronto to score 20, which is something they’ll be focusing on ahead of this weekend’s game against the Bandits.

“They’re a physical team,” Perreault said. “Their goals-against are very good, they take care of their own net and they’re going to be well prepared. If we’re going to make the mistakes we made last week, we’re going to be faced with some problems. We’re working on fixing that and we’ll be prepared.”

Story by Steve Bermel (@BanditsBeat) and Kevin Berar for NLL.com. Photo by Dan Brodie.