Steve “Chugger” Dietrich enters his first season as the Buffalo Bandits’ general manager after a busy off-season. Since taking over for Darris Kilgour, who will stay with the Bandits as bench boss, the franchise’s all time winningest goaltender has brought in several new players via trades or free agency.
The highlight of Dietrich’s accusations is Shawn Williams. One of the NLL’s most prolific scorers, Williams has amassed over 1, 000 career points. As a member of the 2012 Champions Cup runner-up Edmonton Rush, Williams recorded 68 points to lead the team in scoring. His 52 assists ranked him 6th in the league last season and his legendary set up skills will liven up the Buffalo offense.
Another veteran joining the Bandits by way of Edmonton is defender Derek Suddons. The 11-year NLL veteran set a career high in goals last season with 6 and was an All-Star Game selection.
Nick Cotter and Jamie Rooney have combined for 204 points in 111 career games between the pair. Both will provide secondary scoring to the Bandits offense.
Transition player David Brock joins Buffalo after spending his first two years with Boston and Philadelphia. Glenn Bryan will also look to produce as part of the Buffalo defensive unit after being picked up from Toronto.
With Mike Thompson announcing his retirement in the off-season, Anthony Cosmo is now solidified as the Buffalo’s starter goalie. Angus Goodleaf, third stringer in 2012, will likely back-up Cosmo. Former Philadelphia Wing Kurtis Wagar was picked up as a free agent to complete the goaltending unit. Wagar has dressed for 46 games in his 6 year NLL career that includes stints in Edmonton, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia.
The Bandits’ first draft class with Dietrich as GM produced seven draftees, all of whom are signed going into camp. Dhane Smith (5th), Hayden Smith (13th), Carter Bender (18th), Jordan Critch (16th), Kevin Brownell (22nd), Joel Matthews (31st) and Wenster Green (40th) all took part in the free agent scrimmage on November 10 and will continue to push for a 2013 roster spot.
Leading the Bandits will be John Tavares who returns for his 22nd NLL season, all spent with Buffalo. Tavares led the Bandits in scoring for the 17th time last season finishing with 80 points. After winning a record 8th Mann Cup this summer with the Peterborough Lakers, the 44 year old wonder does not show any signs of slowing down. With captain Chris White signing with Toronto as a free agent, Tavares seems destined to wear the C for Buffalo this season.
Luke Wiles, second in team scoring last season with 70 points, is currently a question mark as he remains unsigned.
Long time Banditland favorites Mark Steenhuis and Billy Dee Smith lead a returning core that includes Tracey Kelusky. Kelusky put up 28 points in his second season in Buffalo and was recently tagged as a franchise player along with Cosmo. However, Smith remains unsigned to this point as well and Kelusky has been questionable his entire tenure in Buffalo.
The Bandits’ returnees will look to battle it out with Dietrich’s off-season acquisitions and inaugural draft class at main camp for a spot on the final roster. Check up with In Lacrosse We Trust for the latest news on the 2013 NLL season.