The 2015 NLL season begins Friday as the Buffalo Bandits take on the New England Black Wolves for a 7pm away game at the Mohegan Sun. After an exciting and very challenging training camp, the Bandits are ready to hit the floor and show the Banditland faithful their new and improved team.
Heading into their season opener against the Black Wolves, Bandits Assistant Coach Dan Teat said “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.”
Three weeks ago, the Bandits and Black Wolves faced off against one another in two closed scrimmages. In both contests, the Bandits emerged victorious against the Black Wolves. The first scrimmage that occurred on December 6th at the First Niagara Center ended with a Jerome Thompson game-winning goal with 2:22 remaining in the game to lead the Bandits to the 10-9 victory. In the final preseason meeting between these two teams on December 13th at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, the Bandits emerged victorious with the 17-10 win.
Since the Bandits will be facing the Black Wolves on the road during their home opener and in a brand new facility that nobody really has any major playing experience in, the team will be in for a real challenge Friday night. Teat addressed the issue during the NLL coaches’ conference call stating “When you open up a new building and you’re starting off fresh and you got some new faces and new coaches, you want to perform for those guys. They are going to come out guns a blazing and we’ve got to prepare ourselves for that.”
New England Black Wolves head coach Blaine Harrison echoed pretty much the same sentiments regarding the Bandits. “They are a very solid team from goaltending out. We really expect to be challenged in all three zones and really preparing for a high quality contest.”
Both the Buffalo Bandits and the New England Black Wolves are teams who believe that with the right adjustments to their rosters, they will be able to advance to the next level and possibly bring a championship home. The 2015 offensive upgrades to the Bandits active roster were due to the results of the 2014 team that ended the year third last in scoring with 190 goals. Helping to right the ship for the team this season are the 2014 NLL draft class of Brandon Goodwin, Matthew Bennett, Tyler Ferreira, and Jordan Dance plus the offseason acquisitions of forwards Jerome Thompson, Corey Fowler, transition player Nick Weiss from the Vancouver Stealth and backup goaltender Dave Diruscio.
The Black Wolves had themselves a tremendously busy offseason as well with the team relocating to Connecticut and pretty much restarting all over again from the bottom to the top of the organization. Helping to bring the Black Wolves to the top of the Eastern Division this year are Black Wolves head coach Blaine Harrison, forwards Kevin Crowley and 2014 first round draft pick Mark Cockerton, defensemen Brett Manney and Mike Manley and goaltenders Evan Kirk and Tye Belanger.
The Bandits next game will be their home opener Saturday night January 3rd 7:30pm at the First Niagara Center in their only matchup this season with the Edmonton Rush.