The Buffalo Bandits are missing their top scorer this weekend, and it's not certain when he'll be back.
Ryan Benesch is still feeling the after-effects of a hit to the head taken last week against the New England Black Wolves. They don't know when he might be ready to play again.
"He's had a tough week this week, we know that," Bandits coach Troy Cordingley said before Saturday night's game with the Toronto Rock. "We just have to wait and see what happens, and listen to the doctors."
If Benesch is sidelined for any good-sized amount of time, it would be a huge loss for a team that has gotten off to a slow start this season. Benesch has 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points. Last year he had 39 goals, and scored 55 goals in 2015.
Bill O'Brien of the Black Wolves received a two-game suspension for the hit on Benesch. There was no immediate word on whether the Black Wolves player would appeal that decision.
Cordingley moved Brad Self from defense to offense at times after Benesch left the lineup in the New England game. That may be part of the strategy until Benesch returns.
"Brad adds a lot of speed, and he's a very intelligent player," Cordingley said. "He used to be an offensive player. He gives us that depth up front."
The injury to Benesch was one of the few downsides to the New England game, won in overtime by the Bandits. Buffalo hasn't had many moments in 2017 worth smiling about, but this game provided some.
"It was a hard-fought battle, a hard-fought win," Cordingley said. "We approached the game the way we did last year. When we made mistakes, there was no panic, there was no pointing fingers. No one tried to take the game on themselves. We found a way to win."
That way included an overtime goal from Mitch de Snoo, one of the last people you'd have figured to score in that situation. In the process, he made Dhane Smith look like a prophet.
"I heard Dhane say in the locker room, 'Hey, Snoozie, I think you're going to score one tonight.' Go figure, he puts the biggest goal of the game in." Blaze Riorden said. "That's a product of playing like a team. He intercepted a pass that he read, and went down and scored."
The Bandits staged their second annual Alumni Night. Several players came back to see their old teammates, and a few of them played in a special alumni game at halftime.
One of them was goalie Mike Thompson, perhaps best remembered as the team's netminder when the Bandits won their last championship in 2008.
"It's always fun to come back here and see some folks, especially when they have the alumni game going," he said.
Thompson and his family live in Akwesasne on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which is located a little east of Massena near the Canadian border. He has a company, Thompson and Sons, that makes lacrosse sticks.
The goalie says he keeps up with former teammates like Roger Vyse and Chris White, who all retired around the same time. Thompson still puts on the goalie pads every once in a while. But he vows that his appearance in the alumni game is not a sign that he's planing a comeback.
"Oh, no - my knees won't let me do that for sure," Thompson said.