Steve Priolo prepares to go back to work for Bandits - The Buffalo News
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Steve Priolo prepares to go back to work for Bandits

Steve Priolo might be one of the few people in the region who didn't enjoy his "snow day" on Tuesday.

The Buffalo Bandits defenseman was ready to go to the team's usual weekly practice in Six Nations, Ont., that night, only to find out that the session was cancelled because of the snowstorm.

"It's the opposite of a snow day for me," Priolo said. "I was looking forward to practice so badly. It's nice to see the family, and good to have an extended break, but we really needed to do some work.

"So we'll need to focus on this weekend. Hopefully the guys have been doing their own thing when it comes to workouts."

Priolo and the Bandits will be in Vancouver tonight to play the Stealth (10:30 p.m., Radio 1520 AM).

In many professional sports, a missed practice isn't that big of a deal. Teams just go to work the next day as they prepare for the next game.

The NLL is different.

"I think we're only allowed to practice once a week," said Priolo, who reported that there was plenty of snow at his home in Port Hope, Ont.

"We were going to practice Tuesday and Saturday last week, but they decided to give us Saturday off."

It's been an irregular couple of weeks for the Bandits, who went from really busy to very idle in that span. Buffalo played two games against Rochester in less than 24 hours on March 3 and 4. That's usually not done in contact sports, but both teams put up with it.

"It was weird to play the two games in a row," Priolo said. "Some of the guys were saying that they'd almost rather play a game right after the first one, instead of waiting for the next afternoon.

"I felt OK. When you play games like that, the risk of injury goes up. A one o'clock game after a night game was a bit crazy. Seven o'clock would have been easier to handle."

The Bandits had the chance during their last weekend off of the regular season to look around at the NLL standings. What they saw was a big crowd of teams.

The best record belongs to Georgia and Saskatchewan, who are both 7-3. The worst record belongs to Rochester and Calgary, who are both 4-7.

Buffalo at 4-6 is a half-game out of the last playoff spot in the East Division. The Bandits only need to put together a winning streak to get in the playoff picture.

"That's the way we've looked at it," Priolo said. "We only have six losses. Other teams are still right there. It would have been nice to be 5-5 and solidify a spot in the top three. But every game matters. We've got our work cut out for us, but we've been playing as well as anybody lately."

The Bandits rebounded after a slow start to win three of their last four. A defensive adjustment has been one of the reasons why.

"There are really only two types of defenses in this league," the veteran defender said. "We've switched our assignments somewhat, and it caught a couple of teams off guard. We're a hybrid. We try to put pressure on the ball, but we pack it in at times too. It's not a secret, and it seems to be working."

The break did give the injured Bandits on the roster some time to heal. It's difficult to say who might be ready because of the missing practice, but such players as Alex Kedoh Hill, Nick Weiss and Andrew Watt might be able to suit up for the Stealth.

Buffalo beat Vancouver at home in January, but the Stealth have been hot lately. They are coming off back-to-back wins against Saskatchewan and Colorado, so they are playing their best lacrosse of the season.

"We ran the ball pretty nicely up the floor in the first game, so we'll try to do it again against these guys," Priolo said. "They are playing with confidence, but our boys shoot well on that defense."

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