By Mike J. Pesarchick
It’s a new season for the reloaded Buffalo Bandits, and it’ll kick off with the return of an old rival.
The Bandits will travel to Philadelphia to take on the reborn Wings on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center, resuming a decades-old rivalry.
Here are five things Buffalo fans should know before the season opener:
Led by legends
With Troy Cordingley’s move from head coach to assistant general manager and director of scouting following an 8-10 season, the Bandits announced that former players John Tavares and Rich Kilgour would share head coaching duties.
Both Tavares’ No. 11 and Kilgour’s No. 16 have been retired in honor of their playing careers in Buffalo that led to four league championships (1992, 1993, 1996 and 2008).
Buffalo’s defense allowed a league-worst 251 goals last season. The Bandits’ solution was to sign free-agent goaltender and Canisius College graduate Matt Vinc to a three-year deal.
Vinc, who spent the last eight season in Rochester, has been named the league’s Goalie of the Year six times in his 13-year career. He has a 117-91 regular season record.
Buffalo also aquired defensemen Matt Spanger in a trade with New England and Bryce Sweeting in a deal with Colorado.
Spanger, an Ontario native, recorded five points with the Black Wolves in the 2018 season, while Sweeting picked up a career-high 39 loose balls last season for the Mammoth.
The Bandits also used the third and fourth overall picks in the draft on transition players Ian MacKay and Matt Gilray.
Josh Byrne, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, will look to build off of his record-setting rookie season. The 24-year-old was named to the All-Rookie team last year after recording a rookie franchise record with 63 points.
All NLL games will be broadcast on Bleacher Report Live. A season pass will cost $39.99, with monthly and single-game options available.
All Bandits games also will be on the radio, with WGR 550 broadcasting the opener. The pregame show begins at 12:40 p.m.