Saturday represented the first chance for Buffalo Bandits coach Darris Kilgour to discuss the roster moves made by his team around the trading deadline and roster freeze.
He had plenty to talk about. Kilgour was happy with what the Bandits did as the stretch run of the National Lacrosse League season approached.
The biggest move in terms of impact on the current team was the trade of defenseman Scott Self to Rochester for Alex Kedow Hill. Self was a regular, and he’ll be difficult to replace.
“We have two lines we run out the back door, so we’ll throw someone in and split up the minutes,” Kilgour said. “Just his game awareness, his leadership off the floor, everything he brought on the floor – he was a true veteran, true pro. We’ll miss his intangibles. I think we’ll miss him on the field, but it will be tougher for the intangibles he brought to the team.”
The Bandits added a promising young player in Hill, who played for Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour for Six Nations in Ontario’s summer league.
“Rich definitely liked the way he played. He thought he could come here and play out the back door,” Darris Kilgour said. “He’s very quick and very athletic. We’re very glad to have him.”
Hill’s arrival means that the Bandits once again have a member of the Native American population on their roster. They had been without one this season until his acquisition, something that had never happened in team history before. Kilgour says the team’s fanbase noticed.
“I go out for breakfast a lot on the reservation. It’s all over Facebook and stuff like that. I definitely took some heat on that,” he said. “It’s the way it went. If they played hard enough they would have been on this team. Some wound up on other teams.”
Here are Kilgour’s reactions to some of the other moves:
• The activation of Derek Hopcroft, who had five points in his debut last week against Colorado: “He’s been playing with Shawn Williams over the summer and been a top scorer, so he’s not coming out of nowhere. His type of game, it’s hard to come in as a scorer. You have to pay the price, set some picks, do the loose-ball work, and that’s not his game. We were in a position last week where he had the green light all night to go ahead and shoot it. That’s more of his role. If we keep him in that role, he’ll have some success.”
• The assignment of Luke Wiles, the team’s second-leading scorer in 2012, to the practice squad: “I think a little bit of the problem was in the beginning of the season when he wasn’t practicing. That was a little hard on him. At the same time, we as a team sometimes aren’t good at looking at what a teammate is good at and accentuating that part of his game. We’re all looking to score a goal ourselves instead of getting a friend a goal on one shift, and then the next shift he’ll work for me. We have to do a better job of that, integrating what someone is good at into the system.”
• The unique acquisition of the playing rights of Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich, in a trade made by Dietrich: “I haven’t had the chance to say anything to him about it yet. We needed an emergency goalie. ... I did say to someone that the only way he’s going to be in the net is if the two goalies die.”
Saturday night was Buffalo’s first chance to see Edmonton rookie Mark Matthews, who has taken the league by storm.
The NLL’s first draft choice last fall went into the weekend with 31 goals, third in the league, and added another Saturday.
“I did have high expectations; I don’t know if he’s exceeded them,” Edmonton coach Derek Keenan said. “He continues to get better. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, and to have that sort of skill and experience, he was in a position to contribute right away.
“Mark is a buy-in guy. He’s going to buy into the system. He works hard. He’s got a lot of attributes.”
Corey Small had seven points to lead the Rush on Saturday, while Jarrett Davis and Ryan Ward had five each. Curtis Knight added three goals. Edmonton held Shawn Williams and John Tavares to one assist each. ... Nick Cotter has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. Hill replaced him on the Buffalo roster.