It’s said that defense wins championships in most sports. If that’s true, maybe that’s one of the reasons the Buffalo Bandits are having trouble in the 2017 season as they try to return to the National Lacrosse League finals.
The Bandits went into Saturday night’s game in Calgary - which will get underway at 9 p.m. Buffalo time (Radio 1520 AM, nlltv.com) - having allowed 174 goals in 13 games. That works out to an average of 13.4 goals per game, which is the worst such number in the NLL this season.
The team that is closest to Buffalo in goals-against is New England. The Black Wolves have given up 200 goals in 15 games. That works out to 13.3 goals per game. They allowed 21 in a loss to Georgia on Friday night. A Buffalo team hasn’t allowed that many goals per game since 2001, when the team allowed 15.6 goals per game.
The league leader in 2017 is Toronto at 10.5 goals per game, with Colorado second at 11.3.
It’s not completely fair to pin all of the blame on the Bandits’ goaltenders. Still, no one is saying that Anthony Cosmo and Dave DiRuscio are enjoying good years.
Ten goalies have played at least 240 minutes, the qualifying standards for netminders in the NLL statistics. DiRuscio is ninth in the league in goals-against average at 13.17 per game. Cosmo is tenth at 13.24.
Cosmo comes out ahead in victories, though. The veteran has a record of 4-3 this season, while DiRuscio is credited at 1-5.
The Bandits’ goalies do a little better in save percentage. Cosmo is at .773 to rank sixth in the league, while DiRuscio’s .766 puts him eighth. Surprisingly, the ninth-ranked player in the category is Saskatchewan’s Aaron Bold (.761), who is tied for the league lead in wins with nine.
The Bandits defense figured to be well tested in Saturday night’s game in Calgary. Curtis Dickson of the Roughnecks leads the league in goals with 42. Dane Dobbie isn’t far behind, ranking third with 36 goals. Both players are in the top 10 in scoring, and Wesley Berg is in the 11 spot.