Look out below.
The Buffalo Bandits are in free fall, and there’s no sign of a parachute.
The Bandits dropped their fourth straight game Saturday, as the Edmonton Rush pounded out a 14-7 decision. The 16,629 in attendance in First Niagara Center saw the Bandits play one of their worst games of the season. This was a contest that could have been even more one-sided on the scoreboard that it was.
“When you can’t execute a game plan, you’re in trouble,” Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said. “We were in trouble from the first minute of the game to the last minute.”
It’s difficult to know whether the rout was a case of Buffalo (5-7) playing badly or Edmonton playing superbly – perhaps a little bit of both. But no matter how the blame and credit are assigned, it still comes out as the Bandits’ fourth straight loss - and fifth straight at home.
“I’m at a loss as to how we get outworked at home again. It’s real old. Real old,” Kilgour said.
“I thought we played a complete game,” said Edmonton coach Derek Keenan, an ex-Bandit. “We executed when we needed to. We got some space to operate. That’s the way we play when we’re going well.”
Buffalo’s players staged a closed-door meeting after the game. They had plenty to discuss.
Edmonton gave up the first goal of the game, and then scored the next four goals to take command. It was 6-2 by the end of the first quarter, and the shots on goal were even more decisive: an astounding 22-6 for the Rush.
If there was a goal that defined how the night was going, it was the one by Corey Small of Edmonton in the first quarter. With the shot clock winding down, rookie Mark Matthews threw the ball off the glass at the end of the rink. It bounced right to an unguarded Small, who scored.
“That isn’t scripted,” Keenan said, referring to himself. “Matthews purposely did that. I’m just standing on the bench watching.”
“That’s an embarrassing play,” Kilgour said. “That’s the stuff you do to a guy who doesn’t belong in this league.”
The Rush slowly expanded the lead from there, going up, 10-4, early in the fourth quarter. The Bandits scored a couple of goals to cut it to 10-6, but then two mistakes in 90 seconds led to a pair of killing goals by Small and Curtis Knight.
“We were off to a good start in the third quarter … and then we made two really poor decisions and we were down by two more,” Kilgour said. “We dropped the ball at the center and gave them a breakaway. It was a free goal.”
One particularly discouraging aspect to the game from a Buffalo standpoint was that Edmonton physically dominated. The Rush looked like the future of indoor lacrosse with a lineup that mixed size, strength and skill.
“We can thank our GM and coach Derek Keenan, for that,” said the Rush’s Chris Corbeil, another former Buffalo player. “That’s the way he built this team. He wants athletes on the team, particularly in the back end. We have a lot of big, strong guys. They can really affect a game that way.”
About the only bright spot for Buffalo was the debut of Alex Kedoh Hill. He scored three goals in his first game after coming over from Rochester in a trade a little more than a week ago.
“I did my homework,” Hill said about fitting in on short notice. “I had a rough idea about how they played. I got lucky to get three shots to go in.”
It was the fourth win in a row for the Rush (7-5).
“We looked good in preseason, but in three of our first four losses we just came close. We were missing one or two aspects of our game,” Corbeil said. “It took a lot of work to get to 7-5 after starting 1-4.”
As for the Bandits, they next play in Toronto, the division leader, on Friday. Kilgour thinks it’s time for his players to get to work.
“The days of the Buffalo Bandits just showing up and winning a game are over,” he said. “We need to compete. We need to fight for everything. ... I’m glad we have five wins, because I don’t know when we’re going to get another one.”