By Steve Bermel | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Bill Wippert
The Buffalo Bandits (5-7) host the Saskatchewan Rush (8-4) on Saturday night at the KeyBank Center on Saturday, April 1st at 7:30 P.M. EST (NLLTV.com and Twitter’s Game of the Week). The game will be a rematch of last year’s Championship series that saw the Rush win the Champions Cup two games to zero. After both teams stumbled out of the gates this season, Saskatchewan finds themselves atop the West Division while Buffalo sits a half game out of the final playoff spot in the East.
Although it’s a big rematch, Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley is giving the game no more or less attention than any other challenge.
“It’s a new season, that’s the way I look at it. It’s another game, an important game, that we need to win,” said Cordingley. “There’s nothing from last year motivating us. We’re battling for a playoff spot this year.”
The Rush know that the Bandits are a desperate team and will be throw everything they have at them on Saturday.
“No one in this league is eliminated from playoffs so anyone can get hot late in the year and go on a run,” said Robert Church to SaskRush.com. “I think Buffalo will definitely be looking for a little playoff redemption from last season, but more importantly, looking to get a win at a crucial point in the season just like us.”
The final third of the season won’t be easy for Buffalo as they play the Rush, the Calgary Roughnecks, the Toronto Rock twice and the Georgia Swarm twice. Coach Cordingley isn’t worried about specific opponents; he knows every game in the NLL is close.
“There are no easy games in this league. Sure, we’ve got Georgia twice and Toronto twice, but it’s such a tight league and there have been a ton of one goal games this year,” said Buffalo’s skipper. “We’re focused on Saskatchewan. We have our gameplan ready for them and we’re taking it one game at a time.”
He also realizes that beating the Rush won’t be a small task tomorrow.
“The Rush have no weaknesses. From their goaltending out, their defense is very solid and very structured. Offensively, they may have lost Bill Greer but they gained Adam Jones,” noted Cordingley. “We have to limit their quality shots and we have to care for the ball when it’s in our sticks.”
Buffalo will be without Brad Self as he was a part of a three way trade that sent him to Colorado in exchange for draft picks. Self’s wife has family in Colorado and he’s been hoping to play for the Mammoth to be closer to them. While Cordingley will miss him on the floor, he understands that his family’s health is a priority.
“Brad is a top notch team player and he’s great to coach. That’s why he’s won in this league,” said Cordingley. “[Steve Dietrich] is a stand up guy making that trade. Brad was going to sign with Colorado as a UFA next year.”