Two fans and their dog watch the Wings' 16-15 overtime loss to Colorado on Sunday in Philadelphia. (Photo Credit: Todd Bauders)
The Buffalo Bandits were feeling quite good after a pair of big wins in Week 11 ended a six-game losing streak and restored some confidence. Those feelings were abruptly tossed aside by head coach Darris Kilgour, who didn’t mince words after a complete breakdown on both ends of the floor this past weekend.
The Bandits were routed 17-6 Saturday night at Calgary to fall back into last place in the East Division at 4-7. After appearing to turn around the season with wins over Toronto and Minnesota the previous week, Kilgour’s club was blanked in the first and fourth quarters Saturday, and drew several fighting majors and game misconducts with just over five minutes to play when the game well out of hand.
If it weren’t for John Tavares and Luke Wiles each recording hat tricks, the Bandits wouldn’t have had any goal scorers. Netminders Anthony Cosmo and Mike Thompson faced a total of 68 shots while Buffalo managed just 33.
All that was too much for Kilgour.
“It’s pathetic. My team’s pathetic,” he told the Canadian Press here. “My team’s stupid. I don’t even know what to say about these guys right now. I totally question the hearts of basically everybody but four guys on our team.
“Other than that, they’re a bunch of bush leaguers and they don’t give a (expletive).”
Kilgour must find a way to get his team firing on all cylinders Saturday night when the archrival Rock come to the First Niagara Center. Buffalo is one game behind Toronto and Rochester, and 2½ in back of first-place Philadelphia.
As for the physical play that came late last Saturday, Calgary coach Dave Pym didn’t back down in his comments.
“That’s the way the Bandits play and we’re not going to shy away from it,” Pym told John Down of the Calgary Herald here. “We’re fully capable of playing that way as well, and for the guys to step up at the end and take care of business … we didn’t want them to go out there and get involved in it, but you have to protect yourself and I think the guys did a good enough job of that.”
Though the Roughnecks set a season low for goals allowed, tied their largest margin of victory and inched closer to a playoff berth, Pym wasn’t entirely happy either.
“I made three horrific decisions on the bench that could have cost us in a close game,” Pym told Down. “I’m thankful the boys bailed me out because I was terrible.
“Sending guys out too early for too many men (penalty), calling a timeout when we didn’t need to … it was just dumb mistakes on my part.”
Next up for Calgary is a pair of weekend matchups. The team will take on the Swarm in Minnesota on Friday before returning home to play Washington on Saturday.
After missing two games with an upper-body injury, Colorado’s John Grant Jr. didn’t miss a beat in his return.
Grant finished with nine goals and 10 assists in a weekend set against Philadelphia. On Friday, the two-time defending player of the month scored six goals – a sock trick – with an assist in a 13-12 loss to the Wings in Denver.
Less than 48 hours later in Philadelphia, Grant registered a hat trick and set season highs with nine assists and 12 points in the Mammoth’s 16-15 overtime win.
Grant capped off his hat trick and tied the score at 15 with 43.9 seconds to play. With an NLL-best 87 points, Grant needs 29 over the final four regular-season games to break Tavares’ single-season record set in 2001.
Rookie Adam Jones delivered the win with just over five minutes to play in the extra session.
“I guess five-hole seems to be my spot of choice, so I just put it there,” Jones said. “I thought I might have been in the crease. When they called it a good goal, it was a good feeling.”
With a playoff berth already secured, Colorado goes for its 10th win Saturday afternoon when it travels to Rochester. Grant was a three-time 50-goal scorer during 10 stellar seasons with the Knighthawks before being dealt to Colorado prior to the 2011 campaign.
While Sunday’s loss ended Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak, the Wings could hold their heads up after rallying from a six-goal deficit with six consecutive power-play goals bridging the third and fourth quarters.
“It’s tough to dig a hole like that, and you spend a lot of energy coming back,” Wings forward Matt Danowski told Dan Moberger for the Philadelphia Inquirer here. “The beauty about this team is, you know, if you take down [Brendan] Mundorf or, you know, you shut off [Kevin] Crowley, there’s guys that are going to step up and play. We still pumped in 15 goals.”
Philadelphia will have some time to recover, as it doesn’t play again until April 6 at home versus Minnesota.
The Nick Rose era in Toronto is off to a rousing start after he made 28 saves on 35 shots in the Rock’s 13-7 win over Rochester on Friday to help snap a three-game losing streak.
The Rock acquired Rose last Monday from Calgary to take over the starting goalie’s spot after All-Star Matt Roik was released. The 285-pound Rose smothered many of Rochester’s shots and the big man got a huge boost from his defenders.
“We had a new goalie coming in so we wanted to play some strong defense,” defenseman Cam Woods told Neil Stevens of the Canadian Press here. “We haven't been playing up to our capabilities so it was something we wanted to focus on. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Like Kilgour in Buffalo, Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen wasn’t too pleased with his club’s lackluster effort, telling Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that the performance was embarrassing.
(Saturday night,) we had 18 individuals running around on the floor. Everybody wanted to do it their way,” Hasen said.
Read Maiorana’s recap here.
The battle for what will likely be one of the final playoff berths became a tug-of-war between Edmonton and Washington this past weekend, and could involve Minnesota before all is said and done in 2012.
After Week 12, Edmonton is 3-7 while Washington is 4-8 and Minnesota is 5-5.
The Rush briefly escaped the bottom of the West Division on Saturday after slipping past the Stealth 10-9 behind four goals from Zack Greer and two goals and four assists from Shawn Williams in the NLL ironman’s 190th straight game.
For a team that had made a bad habit of blowing late leads this season, Saturday’s win was extra sweet.
“We needed to win a game like this, because you can start to get a feeling of ‘Here we go again…’” Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan told Jason Hills of the Edmonton Sun here. “It was an outstanding effort, the breakdowns that cost us the last three games weren’t there.”
The Stealth jumped back ahead of the Rush in the West standings on Sunday, posting a 20-13 win over Minnesota on Sunday night. There is no panic in the Edmonton room however as the Rush (3-7) have two games in hand on Washington (4-8). Edmonton has six games remaining to Washington's four. The Rush control their own playoff destiny at this point.
Rhys Duch finished with four goals and six assists for the Stealth, who donned pink-themed jerseys to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
“We talked … in terms of our stars have to be superstars and they have to make everybody around them better,” Washington head coach Chris Hall told Aaron Lommers of the Everett (Wash.) Daily Herald here.
Minnesota’s penalty-killing unit struggled Sunday, allowing six goals. The Swarm, though, got short-handed markers from Andrew Watt and Jay Card to push their season-leading total to 12.
Though Minnesota completed its longest road trip of the season with a 2-2 mark, it’s dropped two straight heading into Friday’s matchup against Calgary before traveling to Edmonton on Saturday.