The real question is what isn’t working for the renewed Buffalo team. Troy Cordingley came aboard this offseason bringing refreshed relationships and different ideas.
First off, anyone can see how well John Tavares and Cordingley work together. Old teammates and career-long friends, they create a unique comeradery amongst the team.
This comaradery streams throughout the team now. On the offensive side of Buffalo’s recent success, Mitch Wilde and Ryan Benesch have really stepped up. They are following Tavares’ lead and learning from his experience and guidance. The two players orchestrate wonderful movement and create multitudes of opportunities.
The life of the offense has resurfaced and found new momentum. I personally believe the team was in need of refreshing leadership and ideas, which Cordingley brought and the rest have followed suit.
The defense are another success story, as well. Billy Dee Smith, Steve Priolo and Rory Smith have all assisted in recreating a solid unit that is responsive and effective. Even offensive players play defense in lacrosse, and Mark Steenhuis along with other have learned from Tavares/other teammates. They now understand and execute good defensive systems when they are forced into those situations.
Goaltending has also found a renewed sense of motivation. Anthony Cosmo and Kurtis Wagar can confidently rely on their defense now, and have the energy and focus to step up more effectively less often. The shots they encounter are from weaker angles or, occasionally slip through the defense. Occasional situations do occur but the Bandits have been better able to rebound and refocus.
Statistics reflect a “third quarter team.” What I mean by that is, as a team, Buffalo has averaged twice as many third quarter goals than their opponents. This demonstrates a vast improvement in consistency and an area where the team can efficiently pull ahead in their performances. They have allowed a few more 4th quarter goals than would be ideal, but that hasn’t stopped their current momentum, and it’s an area to improve on (all teams always have an improvement area).
Overall thus far into the 2014 season, the Bandits have 12 more goals than opponents and 14 more assists. What does that say about the sport and the team? More passing creates more scoring opportunities, and Buffalo is capitalizing on these situations full of potential. Altogether, they have accumulated 245 points, 381 shots on goal, and have a season face off percentage of .808 (5% better than opponents faced). Power play percentages reflect 40% success, not too shabby.
There are two or three main areas I can see the Bandits continuing to work on: 4th quarter offensive performance, increasing shots on goal (team average of 381 compared with opponent average of 433), and loose ball recoveries. Loose ball performances are effective but not efficient; opponents have scooped an average of 30 more this season. With more work in these areas, the 4th quarter could look very different (in a good way) for this Buffalo team.
Buffalo has new leadership, momentum and overall life. They have grown exponentially this season after an inconsistent start and will only continue to (grow). I look forward to seeing what’s in store for not only the rest of this season, but also future seasons to come. I see Troy Cordingley having job security with the Bandits for the foreseeable future.
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