December 10, 2013

NLL East Division Preview: Buffalo Bandits

by Neil Stevens | | 2014 NLL Preview

The Bandits' offseason centered on improving its offense, which general manager Steve Dietrich hopes will alleviate the pressure on goalie Anthony Cosmo.

2013 record: 6-10

Playoffs: Did not qualify

The Buffalo Bandits won the NLL championship in 2008, but have since managed just two playoff wins and in 2013 missed the postseason altogether.

The Bandits hired Troy Cordingley after dumping long-time coach Darris Kilgour. Steve Toll was then added to the coaching staff.

Buffalo was ranked eighth among the nine teams both offensively and defensively last year. That did not cut it.

"We need scoring," general manager Steve Dietrich said. "Defensively last year, we didn't play as bad as people thought."

But Anthony Cosmo's save percentage was seventh among the nine first-string goalies.

"The Coz didn't have as good a year as he hoped to have, and that's probably because our defense was a bit confused," Dietrich said. "We just didn't score enough goals. We needed to go out and get some goals, which is why we acquired Ryan Benesch, and Dhane Smith has a year's experience under his belt now. I think we've addressed that."

Adding Benesch and transition vet Andrew Watt in the big trade with Minnesota was just the start in a busy offseason. The Bandits also acquired defenseman Rory Smith from Colorado for little-used Carter Bender in a deal that also involved swapping draft picks. Draft-day deals saw forwards Joe Resetarits come in from Calgary and Mitch Jones from Vancouver.

Neil Stevens' NLL 2014 Season Preview (in projected order of finish)

NLL East Preview

1. Rochester Knighthawks
2. Minnesota Swarm
3. Toronto Rock
4. Buffalo Bandits
5. Philadelphia Wings 

NLL West Division

1. Edmonton Rush
2. Calgary Roughnecks
3. Vancouver Stealth
4. Colorado Mammoth
» Where are the Americans? 

John Tavares, that 45-year-old kid who is pro indoor lacrosse's all-time leading scorer, returns for a 23rd season in Buffalo. Tracey Kelusky was not re-signed. Defenseman Jon Harasym retired. Transition players Nick Diachenko and Mitch Wilde were selected in the draft as Dietrich looked to add speed.

"They are great young kids, great athletes," Dietrich said. "That's what this league is going to. They'll push guys for spots."

So there will be at least five new faces on the floor.

"You need change every year and you definitely need change when you finish last," Dietrich said.

Cordingley was an assistant coach for the 2008 champion Bandits, went to Calgary as head coach for the 2009 champion Roughnecks and coached Toronto to the 2011 championship. Is he going to have instant success in Buffalo, too?

"I hope so," Dietrich said. "We've got a lot of talent. We underachieved last year. We were in a must-win game with Rochester the last game of the season and lost by one goal, and they went on to win the championship. That's how close this league is. A goal here and there, I can't see why we can't win it. I'm excited. We've addressed some of our needs. I'm looking forward to seeing Steve Priolo become an elite defenseman and Anthony Cosmo bounce back to be the goaltender we know he can be."

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