On a night when the Buffalo Bandits’ top scorers filled up the scoresheet, another forward was recognized for some unsung work in their win over the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night.
Chad Culp contributed one goal and one assist, but helped set a combative tone as the Bandits won their second straight game in the postseason.
“Chad is a big part of our team,” coach Troy Cordingley said. “He’s plays at both ends, and we’re comfortable with him playing both ends. He’s a player. If you watch the film, you see him and Jamie Rooney creating space for guys like John Tavares, Ryan Benesch and Mark Steenhuis. Guys like that chip in with their effort and hard work.”
Culp’s goal ended a four-goal Rochester run in the second quarter that threatened to break the game open.
“Chad is a great hustler,” Tavares said. “On the right side, we’re all sort of the same type of player. Chad brings some energy when he’s out there.”
Think there’s a pot of gold waiting for everyone at the end of the National Lacrosse League playoffs? Think again.
Most of the players – and in particular the stars – earn less money per game than they do in the regular season. Everyone is paid the same at this time of year.
“There is a set amount, I think it’s $700, that’s the minimum,” Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich said. “It could be more if the attendance reaches a certain level.”
Such matters are determined by the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners. The NLL is finishing up its first year with a new deal. Dietrich hasn’t heard many complaints about it.
“We’ve had more attendance this year, but a lot of that is the extra home game,” said Dietrich about a schedule that went from eight home games to nine. “From what I’ve heard, most teams are happy with the way things have progressed. Most teams’ budgets have come down, and with the extra home game revenues have gone up.
“I think in reading articles about the league, Vancouver made more money being in Langley than it did in Everett the year before.”
The Stealth moved from suburban Seattle to outside of Vancouver in the offseason. It averaged only 3,590 in attendance this season, worst in the league by more 3,000 people per game. Stealth general manager Doug Locker told the Everett Herald that the team saved money on rentals of office space and floor time, and thus was in better financial shape than it was a year ago despite having smaller crowds.
Considering that the Bandits and Knighthawks have been divisional rivals for years, it’s a little surprising that it’s been a while since the two teams last met in the playoffs.
Seven years ago, Buffalo and Rochester played in the semifinals. The Knighthawks took a 14-13 overtime win in Rochester. Tavares and Steenhuis had two goals each for Buffalo, while John Grant was the game’s MVP after scoring 26 seconds into the extra session.
Rochester thus avenged a semifinal loss to Buffalo the year before. Tavares had three goals in that game, and game most valuable player Steenhuis added two. Current assistant coach Dan Teat had a goal, while Dietrich was the winning goalie.
Rochester defeated Buffalo in 2005 and 2003, while the Bandits returned the favor in 2004 and 1996.
Tavares holds all of the league records for games played, goals, assists and points in the regular season. It’s no surprise, then, that he has the same distinctions in the postseason.
Tavares played in his 35th career playoff game on Saturday night. That puts him four games ahead of a former teammate, Pat McCready.
Tavares had four goals and two assists against the Knighthawks. That means has scored 83 playoff goals, 16 ahead of Gary Gait. His assist total has reached 112, 34 ahead of Rochester’s Dan Dawson. Tavares’ 193 points is well ahead of Colin Doyle (132), who had eight points against the Bandits last week to pass Gary Gait and take over second in career playoff points.