We have a special guest blogger today: Jack Goods, who has written for both IL Indoor and In Lax We Trust. Jack was at the Buffalo Bandits’ open practice this morning, and filed this report which I am happy to provide here on NLL Chatter.
Bandits Open Practice Recap
By Jack Goods
The Bandits held their annual open practice today at the First Niagara Center and used the occasion to help unveil their new uniforms. The first primary uniform change in over ten years from the team, this year’s jerseys have a more modern feel. Many design aspects are similar to the All Star Jerseys worn in Buffalo last season. A few players, including John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Shawn Williams, Jay Thorimbert, and Scott Self were wearing the full uniforms which including name plates and numbers.
Of course the main event for fans was the actual practice and the chance to see many of the new Bandit players in action. After undergoing a pretty big overhaul this offseason many of the names on the roster handed out to fans were different than they names they saw last year. That added even more excitement to a day that usually gets the diehard fans in Banditland pumped up. A few players were notable in my eyes.
Derek Hopcroft showed off his skills quite nicely in both the drills and the scrimmage. One goal in particular stood out, a behind the net goal with his off hand. He showed lacrosse intelligence that many players just seem to lack. A young player who scored 15 goals last season for Colorado, Hopcroft could end up being a solid player on this year’s roster.
Nick Cotter, another new name, seemed to be on his game today as well. Although he sat out last season he doesn’t seem to have lost a step. He appeared to be one of the fastest and most in shape players out there, maybe due to playing with the Charlotte Copperheads of the PLL this fall.
This was the first chance for fans to see this year’s draft picks in their Bandits gear, and one thing jumped right out at me. Guys like Dhane Smith and Carter Bender are huge. The Bandits had issues with size recently but seem to have answered them. Dhane Smith made a few moves today that caught my eye and I noticed he is very fast for his size.
Marty Hill, Joel Matthews, Jimmy Purves, Jamie Rooney, and Scott Stewart all did not practice due to injuries. Although both currently on the physically unable to perform list, both Steenhuis and Self participated in practice. Steenhuis did take a Dhane Smith shot to the head early on, but returned after a short time.
This is a very good team this year; Bandits fans should be very excited. I look at this roster and think there are probably 27 players who could easily be on this team. Deitrich has brought in solid competition, winners, and a good mix of experience and youth. Although the Knighthawks have to be thought of as the front runners (especially since the Dawson trade) the Bandits shouldn’t be a push over this season.