Nick Weiss has had to make a few adjustments in his first year as a Buffalo Bandit. One of them centers on noise.
Weiss was a member of the Vancouver Stealth last season. That team averaged fewer than 4,000 per home game in attendance, the worst such figure in the National Lacrosse League. Now as a Bandit, he’s playing in front of more than 14,000 per game.
“I didn’t play in Buffalo last year, so I hadn’t seen what it’s like here. I had just heard about it,” Weiss said. “At the home opener, I was on the bench next to Dave Brock at one point. I said to him, ‘This is unbelievable.’ He said to me, ‘You haven’t seen anything.’
“That game we played against Toronto on a Friday night in March, I had never been in a building that loud. Andrew Watt must have been 10 feet away from me on the floor, and I couldn’t hear him.”
Weiss is hoping for another very noisy night on Saturday when the Bandits host the Stealth at First Niagara Center (7:30 p.m., Radio 550 AM).
The transition player almost seemed destined to become a professional lacrosse player. The sport ran in the family for the Ontario native.
“My grandfather played, and my father played,” Weiss said. “When I was 2, they gave me my first stick. I almost never let go of it.”
Weiss put the lacrosse stick down long enough to try such sports as football, rugby and basketball, and mostly stuck to lacrosse and hockey in his high school years. He played junior lacrosse in Peterborough, which is north of his native home of Port Hope on Lake Ontario.
“I had talked to Vancouver a couple of times, and they seemed interested in me,” Weiss said about the time before the 2013 NLL Draft.
The Stealth were interested enough to take him in the second round. He made the team and became a commuter. Weiss was going to school in Kingston, Ont., at that point, so each week he’d drive 3½ hours to Toronto. Then he’d fly to where the Stealth were playing, which meant several cross-country trips.
“It was awesome,” Weiss said about playing indoor lacrosse professionally as a rookie. “I loved every minute of it. We didn’t have the best year, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.”
The stay turned out to be a short one, as his time with the Stealth ended on Sept. 22.
“I was in Alberta,” Weiss remembered. “I had moved out there to work with my brothers. We had a ‘no-phone’ policy while on the job. I came home and looked at my phone, and it had blown up. There were a ton of missed phone calls and Twitter messages.
“I was sitting on the couch when my brother came in and asked what was up. I said, ‘I just got traded.’ ”
Weiss was off to Buffalo in a deal that involved Bandits defenseman Rory Smith and some draft choices. The 22-year-old’s days of flying to Vancouver nine times a year were over.
“I think I’m fitting in well,” Weiss said. “It took me about two games.”
Assistant coach Dan Teat added, “He’s turned into one of our warriors. He’ll do anything to win. He wants to be a heart-and-soul guy for this team. The fans are going to love him here for a long time.”
The Bandits’ task Saturday night is a simple one, since their magic number for wrapping up a trip to the postseason is one. Any Buffalo win or New England loss would settle the playoff field.
If the Bandits defeat the Stealth, they will clinch a postseason spot in the NLL East. However, if the Bandits lose on Saturday and New England defeats Rochester at the same time, the Black Wolves would still be alive. New England hosts Buffalo on Sunday.
“Hopefully we can take care of that on Saturday, and punch the ticket,” Weiss said.
Saturday night’s game has been designated as “Tucker Out Lymphoma Night,” to honor the memory of Tucker Williams, the son of former Bandit Shawn Williams. Proceeds from special fundraisers during the night will go toward the Braver Than Brave Foundation and Western New York cancer care. The Bandits will wear specially designed jerseys for the game.