It’s a ritual for rookies on a professional sports team − show up for training camp, meet new teammates and coaches, and try to make an impression.
Buffalo Bandits’ rookie Mitch de Snoo experienced it twice, as he was traded by Calgary to Buffalo shortly before the start of the season.
“I think I played in an exhibition game for Calgary right around Christmas,” de Snoo said. “I went home, and I was on vacation from school. Then I found out I was going to Buffalo.”
The young defender hopes to continue to show he belongs in the National Lacrosse League. His next chance could come Friday night, when the Bandits play the Rush in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (8:30 p.m., Radio 1520 AM).
De Snoo had hopes of playing somewhere in the NLL. He grew up in Oshawa, Ont., and played on a travel team that took part in tournaments in the United States. Some college scouts were watching, and he was recruited by Drexel University near Philadelphia and played there four years.
When the draft was coming up last fall, de Snoo was on everybody’s radar.
“The draft was a pretty crazy day,” he said. “I had been at the combine the day before. I interviewed with all of the teams except Colorado and Vancouver. A couple of teams told me they were interested in me.”
The Bandits used the interview opportunity to make sure everyone in the organization had a chance to hear de Snoo ... or so it seemed.
“There were just a ton of people in the room,” he said. “It was the whole staff. Everyone at every level was involved. John Tavares was in there, cracking jokes. It was a pretty good meeting. It lasted about 10 minutes.”
When the draft took place, the two teams that had told de Snoo they were seriously looking at him passed him over. The Bandits had a shot at him at No. 11, but went for Anthony Malcom instead. Calgary took de Snoo at No. 13.
However, at the end of December, the Bandits apparently decided they needed more depth on defense. They traded Brandon Goodwin, their first draft pick from 2014 who is from Western Canada, to the Roughnecks for de Snoo.
The young defender went through the “breaking in” process all over again.
“That was really different,” de Snoo said. “Everyone has that bonding period in camp, and then I was coming to Buffalo. But the guys here are good team guys and were welcoming. It made the transition easier.”
Rookies usually have trouble finding a regular spot in the lineup, but de Snoo has been an exception. He’s participated in seven of the Bandits’ eight games. Coach Troy Cordingley likes de Snoo’s work ethic and intelligence, and believes the rookie has been helped by Calgary and Buffalo having similar defensive systems.
“I think I’ve definitely been up and down,” de Snoo said. “I started strong. I mixed a bad game in there with a few strong ones. Last weekend was tough on me, tough on the team. I have to get back to playing with confidence.”
Buffalo hit its first flat spot of the season last weekend, losing two games in a row for the first time and dropping to 4-4. The home loss to Georgia was particularly difficult to take, since Buffalo has defeated the Swarm easily the week before. In the rematch, the Bandits gave up 19 goals on 73 shots; the shots-against total was the most by a Buffalo team since at least 2005.
“I think we were a bit overconfident,” de Snoo said. “We played one team that hadn’t won a game, and another that we beat handily the week before. We didn’t start the Georgia game the way we should have, and then we couldn’t get the momentum in the second half.”
Saskatchewan is the defending NLL champion and the Rush are always a difficult opponent. Buffalo at least will have first-string goalie Anthony Cosmo available Friday night. He took a shot off his knee in the third quarter of the Georgia game, but practiced on Tuesday night.
Not only will de Snoo have the chance to test himself against stars such as Mark Matthews on Friday night, but he’ll also get to see some old friends in Saskatoon.
Rush coach “Derek Keenan was my coach in junior lacrosse and he has a lot of guys on his team there that I played with at Whitby,” de Snoo said. “There must be five or six of them. Maye we’ll have a little reunion.”