The Buffalo Bandits' plight seems to grow more serious by the game, as little continues to go right for a team that played for a championship just last year.
The Bandits effectively ruined their chances with a subpar first half, and fell to the New England Black Wolves, 14-11, in the KeyBank Center on Friday night. Buffalo fell to 1-5 on the season - matching the worst six-game start in team history (2010). It's the worst record in the National Lacrosse League.
Buffalo did score four straight goals in the fourth quarter, but it only served to make the final score more respectable. The shots on goal for the game were indicative of the play, with the Black Wolves having a 65-47 edge.
The Bandits were hoping that two weeks between games would help solve their problems, but rest was not a cure. Dhane Smith, recovering from an ankle injury, led Buffalo with three goals.
ONCE AGAIN: If you are making up a list of the Bandits' problems, bad starts have to be rather high on the list. Consider that the team has played in six games, and trailed by an 8-2 score in four of them. That's a good recipe for losing.
In Friday's game, Buffalo started the game with a little energy - but saw it wilt under the New England attack. Four different players scored for the Black Wolves in the first nine minutes.
By the end of the first period, New England had a 5-1 lead, and top scorer Shawn Evans hadn't even gotten on the scoresheet yet. Evans did get a couple of assists in the second period, as the Black Wolves lengthened their lead to 9-3. Ten New England players had points in the first half.
ROSTER MOVES: Daryl Veltman's time as a Bandit came to an end this week as he was released by the team. The forward had three goals and four assists in four games.
Veltman was signed as a free agent before the 2016 season. It was hoped that he could add another consistent scoring threat, but the veteran felt short of those expectations.
"For whatever reason, it didn't work out here in Buffalo," assistant coach Rich Kilgour said. "He had a great career in Calgary. I'm not saying that hasn't been noticed by everyone. He just didn't have the numbers here. It's pro sports - you have to produce. It looks bad because it looks like he's the scapegoat, but he's not the reason we're 1-4."
Meanwhile, Andrew Watt was scratched from the lineup. He was replaced by Tim Edwards, who made his debut in the National Lacrosse League. Edwards has gotten raves for his athletic ability since joining the team, but the Bandits wanted to bring him along slowly. The transition player was a standout for Canisius College.
NOW IN GOAL: Dave DiRuscio picked up his third start of the season for the Bandits in the net. He was 1-1 in his first two starts. Anthony Cosmo started the other three games. He was pulled from all three. Cosmo suffered a knee injury in one game, and has received little help from his defense in the other two.
"It's nothing against Cos," Kilgour said about the goalie pick. "Dave hasn't been bad when he's come on in relief. We can't promise him more than one start. But if you get a start and make the most of it, we'll go from there. I'm not guaranteeing more than one start."
DiRuscio only lasted less than nine minutes Friday before he was pulled in favor of Cosmo.
COMING UP: The Bandits finished their season series with the Black Wolves on Sunday afternoon. Game time is 1 p.m.