Saturday’s Buffalo Bandits game was in part designed to honor Tucker Williams, the 8-year-old son of forward Shawn Williams. It certainly did that. The night supplied financial and moral support for the family in a number of ways.
The evening even had a surprise guest: Tucker himself.
“It was exciting, obviously,” Shawn Williams said. “He actually wasn’t supposed to be here. The last round of chemo was on Thursday. The numbers were a little low, and we were a little upset. We didn’t want to miss any treatment. Then it popped into my head that he could come out for the game.
“Everything turns out for a reason, and he had a ball. It was awesome.”
At one point in the second half, Tucker was introduced over the public address system, and he was shown on the Jumbotron with his family and his friends.
Tucker needed only a few moments before happily reacting to the ovation.
“He was a little shy at first, and then he said, ‘I’ll take it,’” Shawn Williams said.
“We definitely would have liked to pull one out for him,” Jay Thorimbert said. “The reaction for him when they showed him on the scoreboard was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard here.”
While the Bandits were disappointed with Saturday’s outcome, the Calgary Roughnecks were downright thrilled. It’s not easy to win back-to-back road games in the National Lacrosse League, and that’s exactly what the Roughnecks did in their visits to Philadelphia and Buffalo.
The way Calgary won Saturday’s game here – scoring six straight goals in the final quarter – was particularly gratifying for coach Curt Malawsky.
“You’re never out of it in the NLL. That’s what’s exciting for our fans and that’s what makes this league unique,” he said. “You can be down by five or six and as long as you stick to the program, and you’re resilient, good things can happen.”
A topic of conversation at the Bandits’ morning shootaround on Saturday was an odd one: Was the Rochester Knighthawks’ win over the Minnesota Swarm on Friday night good news or bad news for the Bandits?
It could be considered both.
Rochester picked up a game on Buffalo in the NLL East standings with its dramatic overtime victory over Minnesota. The Knighthawks trailed, 13-10, with 3:40 left. Yet the Rochester win guaranteed Buffalo a berth in the postseason. Since the Bandits missed the playoffs in 2013, that’s a more than welcome development.
“That is our first goal, to get into the playoffs,” coach Troy Cordingley said. “Our second goal is to get a home playoff game. We got some help” Friday night.
The Bandits fell short of that second goal with the loss to Calgary. Now the major goal on Buffalo’s agenda is to stop the team’s current losing streak, which stretched to four.
Bandits fans certainly remember the team’s six-game losing streak in 2013 that was so costly. Cordingley wasn’t around for that, and he’s not using it as a motivational tool this time.
“We turn the page on it. Last year was last year,” the coach said. “This league, of all leagues, the parity is unbelievable. We went into Minnesota, the last-place team in the East, and they beat us in overtime. We went into Vancouver, the last place team in the West, and lost. We’re lucky we got some wins early so we had a bit of a cushion.”
Rochester’s win on Saturday, combined with Buffalo’s loss, moved the Knighthawks 2½ games up on the Bandits.
Andrew Watt was activated before the game. He had been sidelined with a shoulder injury. David Brock went on injured reserve.