BUFFALO BANDITS @ NEW ENGLAND BLACK WOLVES
Bandits Rep: Assistant Coach Dan Teat
Addressing last season:
Teat: “Going into this year we can’t be satisfied (regarding last year’s results), we need to head to the next level. Our core is a good one where we’re not too inexperienced and with our veterans leading the way, they will help tremendously.”
Notes: I agree with what coach Teat is saying. Unless you have the championship trophy raised over your head, there will always be work left that has to be done. It’s a wonderful thing that they went to the Eastern Finals after most had written them off due to the eight game skid that ended their regular season. In terms of leadership and locker room presence, to have a player like John Tavares leading the way is definitely a plus to the younger incoming talent. His experience in the NLL is priceless and the amount of knowledge/experience that he will pass on to them will definitely help accelerate their performance /transition to the NLL much faster.
Regarding Jerome Thompson
Teat: “He plays summer ball in the senior B loop. What we noticed the most from Jerome during training camp was how impressive he was in the fitness testing. When he was drafted three years ago, he struggled with being in shape and lacked speed. This offseason he decided to get in real good shape and he never tired out. His skill set is second to none and comes very natural for him. He really showed us during training camp that he was incredibly strong mentally as well as physically.”
Notes: Thompson looked like a man possessed out there and was really ready to prove to the Bandits organization that he belonged on their active roster during training camp. Thompson moved across the floor with blazing speed and was an incredibly fast and accurate shooter. With the correct amount of mentoring from veterans like Tavares and the ability to quickly learn from mistakes, Thompson’s transition into the NLL will be a quick and painless experience and hopefully will have enough time to be able to let his own game shine.
Key to start the season on the road with a win, especially in a building no one has really played in before.
Teat: “It’s really tough when going into new building no one is really familiar with. Our key will be to stay as close to their intensity as we can since this is their home opener. New England will definitely come out with guns blazing right from the start.”
Notes: To play any team on the road in the NLL is difficult, especially with all the parity there is in the league. For it to be the Black Wolves season opener and also in a brand new building that no team in the NLL has played in yet just makes for the possibility of a win an even greater challenge.
EDMONTON RUSH @ BUFFALO BANDITS
ASSISTANT COACH DAN TEAT
Preparing for the Edmonton Rush:
Teat: “This is one of those games that we really really have to prepare for, be really smart and stick with our systems. Edmonton can hurt you in so many ways defensively, in transition and everybody knows how good their offense is. It’s going to be one of those things where you put a plan in place, stick with it and make little changes throughout the course of the game depending on what their team is doing. Edmonton has been one of the best teams in the league over the last two years and they’re only getting better. They have guys who were fantastic when they were younger and now they have another year under their belt so that’s even tougher to prepare for. They’ve got some unfinished business. They’ll come out prepared and focused and we’re going to have to match that focus and intensity.”
Notes: With a record that truly speaks for itself at 16-2, last seasons’ Edmonton Rush squad was a true triple threat juggernaut. Edmonton could beat you down with their explosive offense, punishing defense, or incredibly solid goaltending. 2014 NLL General Manager and Head Coach of the year Derek Keenan did an incredible job in drafting/acquiring top level talent for his active roster and the proof is shown on the scoresheet. Last season, Aaron Bold was recognized as a finalist for goaltender of the year with a league leading GAA of 8.73, while defensive standout Kyle Rubisch was awarded top NLL defenseman of the year.
In regards to Edmonton’s offense, with a squad that ranked third in 2013 and second in 2014, I have a feeling that this team is only getting better with age. They have the ability to score almost at will in regards to their ability to put one through when either doing diving/point blank shot attempts or even long distance outside blasts. With a roster that contains players like 2013 Rookie of the Year Mark Matthews and the return of sniper Corey Small into the lineup, the Bandits offensive guns and defensive physicality will need to be center stage and at the ready.
Organizational/Coaching goals for opening weekend:
Teat: “The bad taste from last season is still there because we were that close. But, the redemption that we seek will be for a full season of performance and consistency.”
Notes: With the Bandits putting on a dominant 8-2 performance to begin the season and an 0-8 performance at the tail end of the season, consistency will definitely be the key for this year. With the Bandits lacking depth offensively on the left side last season, hopefully the injection of left handed talent will help balance this team out and the 8-2 team will hopefully emerge.