The Buffalo Bandits had turned into a kinder, more gentle team in 2013 ... until Saturday night rolled around.
The Bandits and Colorado Mammoth combined for a preliminary total of 188 penalty minutes in the contest. The totals quickly grew as officials handed out eight match penalties and three gross misconducts.
The teams took part in five separate fights with 31 seconds left to play. Then there was another skirmish of sorts by the Colorado bench at the end of the game.
“There was some talking back and forth. That’s about it,” was Bandits’ coach Darris Kilgour’s only comment.
“Darris is a competitor. He was a competitor back when I played with him, and he’s still a competitor,” said Mammoth coach Bob Hamley, a former Bandit. “Maybe we should have been a little smarter and thrown the ball around like we did at the end of the game. But, it is what it is. Maybe he was trying to show his fans that he wasn’t going to give up. That’s who he is.”
Until the final moments of Saturday’s game, the Bandits had seen their penalty minutes drop drastically in 2013. They went into the weekend averaging only 17.3 PIM per game. That was only the fifth-highest total in the National Lacrosse League, putting them in the middle of a nine-team league.
The Bandits led the NLL in penalty minutes for the past two seasons. In 2012, Buffalo’s average per game was 33.8 PIM, and in 2011 it was 23.2.
The NLL certainly will review the incidents in the coming week, and could issue further penalties and suspensions.
The Mammoth had plenty of reasons to be tired on Saturday. They had lost a tough game in Toronto on Friday night, and then took a bus to Buffalo for Saturday’s game. The Bandits didn’t have the chore of playing back-to-back games and were thus well-rested.
Yet it was the Mammoth that played with a great deal of energy in the game, outshooting Buffalo by a 60-37 margin. Colorado had a 6-0 edge in goals in the fourth quarter when the game was there for the taking.
“It is amazing,” Hamley said. “We only get a couple of hours a week in practice, so maybe that helped us.”
The coach was quite pleased by the fact that his team had some chances to be discouraged at times under the circumstances, but didn’t.
“We talked today that our game plan can’t change because of what the score is,” Hamley said.
“We have to keep peppering them with shots. We didn’t get discouraged early. We said, keep getting quality shots and they’ve got to drop.”
It was a stark contrast to what had happened to the Bandits the previous week. Buffalo defeated the Rock in Toronto, and gave up a late lead at home to Philadelphia and went on to lose in overtime.
Buffalo has had four back-to-back sets in the last year and one-half; it has one sweep, two splits and was swept once in those games.