After an off-season of revamping, the Buffalo Bandits opened their training camp this weekend looking to move past a last place finish in the National Lacrosse League last season. The regular season is less than a month away, but there are decisions to be made before the Bandits start their 27th season of play.
Here are five things you need to know as the Bandits kick off the 2017-18 campaign:
1. When can I watch? The Bandits' annual open practice is scheduled for Nov. 25 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The event is open to the public and no ticket is necessary. After the practice, players will sign autographs around the concourse starting at noon, while general manager Steve Dietrich, head coach Troy Cordingley, assistant coaches John Tavares and Rich Kilgour, and director of lacrosse operations Scott Loffler will host a Q&A in the Lexus Club starting at 11:30 a.m.
2. There are starting jobs open. The main storyline in camp is at the goaltender position after last year's starter, Anthony Cosmo, retired earlier this month. Cordingley and Dietrich have two players competing for the job, Davide DiRuscio and Alex Buque. DiRuscio has been Cosmo's backup the past three seasons, posting a 7-9 record and a 9.41 goals against average. Buque was acquired this off-season in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Mammoth.
Cordingley said there are 25 transition players and defensemen in camp competing for 11 spots. There's an opportunity for a couple players to see expanded playing time this year after Billy Dee Smith and David Brock left in free agency.
3. There are some new faces. Buffalo revamped the offensive unit, starting with the addition of Josh Byrne with the first overall pick in the draft. The Bandits also added two through trades, Callum Crawford and Jordan Durston. Crawford was the sixth leading scorer in the league last year, totaling 36 goals and 98 points in 18 games. Durston was the fourth leading scorer on the Vancouver Stealth with 43 points in 18 games.
4. Who isn't there? Dietrich said the Bandits offered a contract to forward Alex Kedoh Hill, but said it's looking like he won't play in the NLL this season. Hill notched 12 goals and 32 points in 14 games with Buffalo last season. Transition player Andrew Watt, who spent the last five seasons with the Bandits, was not offered an invite to camp.
5. The Bandits play two scrimmages. Buffalo will play two preseason games, Nov. 18 against the New England Black Wolves at 7 p.m. and Nov. 19 against the Rochester Knighthawks at 11 a.m. Both are at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville, Ont., and are open to the public.