After hours of close observation in training camp practices and preseason games, Buffalo Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley chose his starting goalie for tonight’s season opener against the Toronto Rock (7:30 p.m., 1520 AM). That doesn’t mean the goalie battle is over.
Alex Buque will make his Bandits debut, barely beating out Davide DiRuscio to fill the shoes of the recently retired Anthony Cosmo.
“He had a stronger exhibition game,” Cordingley said. “That’s what it basically came down to. Both were real strong. Both had good camps.”
Cordingley said the starter will be decided on a week-to-week basis, so there’s still an opportunity for DiRuscio to earn playing time.
Buque was acquired by the Bandits in a trade with the Colorado Mammoth in August. He’s a three-year veteran of the league, serving as Dillon Ward’s backup the entirety of his career.
He’s posted a 7-9 record, 10.88 goals against average and .773 save percentage in 768 minutes.
“I’ve got a quick step,” Buque said at the start of training camp. “I’ve got speed out there when I move side to side. ... I do have a game plan and I always want to follow that. I’ve always been successful that way.”
Buque’s first game in orange should be a busy one, as Toronto boasts one of the strongest offensive units in the NLL. Brett Hickey ranked third in the league with 45 goals last season. Tom Schreiber won Rookie of the Year honors in his first year playing indoor lacrosse. Rob Hellyer, who missed all of last season with injury, returns after scoring 113 points in 2016.
“We’re going to have to be real good at communication,” Cordingley said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, but that’s what we signed up for.”
The opener at the KeyBank Center is the first of four Bandits games that will be streamed through Twitter this season.