6:58 p.m. -- The First Niagara Center is open for business again.
There hasn't been much activity here since the Bandits finished their season in May, thanks to the NHL lockout. But the lacrosse team is back home tonight for the home opener. The Sabres are expected to get back to work tomorrow, pending the signing of some legal documents.
I'm going to save the phrase "big game" for much later in the season. But the Bandits certainly don't want to start the season with an 0-2 record. They did not play well on Friday night in a loss in Philadelphia. There were far too many stupid penalties, and the Wings' 5-0 run (four power-play goals) was the difference.
Then the Bandits took a bus to Baltimore, got up bright and early, flew back to Buffalo, and got ready for tonight's game. Meanwhile, Minnesota probably was resting up here for the game. The Bandits have that disadavantage going in. Back-to-backs are a little tricky, and it will be interesting to see if there are any lineup changes for Buffalo after last night.
Derek Suddons missed Friday's game with the flu. It's easy to say that not having him and the suspended Billy Dee Smith in the lineup hurt the team last night. We'll see what the scratches are this time around.
By the way, I do have a Twitter account @WDX2BB. (It's a throwback to an old hobby of mine if you are wondering.) I try to send out links to stories I write, covering such areas as lacrosse, running, book reviews, I also try to answer questions, when possible (email works for that too).
7:16 p.m. - Buffalo's scratches - Mike Hominuck, Carter Bender and Hayden Smith. Anthony Cosmo gets the start in the Bandits' goal.
7:23 p.m. -- In case you were wondering, and I was, the Bandits last started 0-2 in 2010. They lost their first four games but still wound up 8-8,
7:31 p.m. -- Cue the bagpipes. We're not sold out here, but it's a good crowd on hand.
7:38 p.m. - Props to Kevin Kennedy, anthem singer, for his all-orange suit. The matching shoes were a particularly nice touch. Speaking as a Syracuse grad, this is a snappy look that more people should try.
7:44 p.m. -- The Bandits are showing off their new uniforms tonight. For those not watching on YouTube, they look like the Broncos' road uniforms. Minnesota up, 1-0.
7:47 p.m. -- The Bandits have come out with a little zip and bounced some people around in the first five minutes. Give credit to Evan Kirk for looking good in goal so far.
7:55 p.m. -- It's been a funny game to far, with only the one goal by Ryan Benesch of Minnesota so far. I'd say the pitchers are ahead of the hitters at this time of year, but this is lacrosse and not baseball.
7:57 p.m. -- Just like that, Minnesota has scored two goals in 16 seconds, and Anthony Cosmo has been pulled for Kurtis Wagar. Five saves on eight shots. Hmmmm.
8:04 p.m. -- The Bandits have come up with a pair of goals to narrow the Minnesota lead to 3-2. Nick Cotter and Dhane Smith did the honors.
8:10 p.m. - Minnesota leads, 3-2, after 1. Jon Harasym picked up a five-minute major for a cross-check. He could have gotten a game misconduct for it; easy to wonder if the league will at least look at it this week.
8:15 p.m. - Crawford and Jackson have made it 5-2 Minnesota. Another major penalty is haunting the Bandits, just like last night.
8:20 p.m. -- Tracey Kelusky scores from close range to cut it to 5-3. Tracey has played pretty well so far in the early going (meaning Friday and tonight). Got to give him credit for that.
8:30 p.m. -- The goal scoring has turned frantic in the last 10 minutes, and Minnesota has had the better of it. Shayne Jackson has been the major villain to date. He had the last two goals to give him three for the night. Chad Culp scored for the Bandits. We have an 8-5 lead for the Swarm (Mark Steenhuis scored as I was typing this) with 4:16 left in the half.
8:42 p.m. -- 8-6 Minnesota at halftime. Off to do radio.
8:58 p.m. -- Always fun to talk to John Gurtler on the radio broadcast. We've been doing that at the home opener for five years. Shots for first half were 27-23, Buffalo.
9:02 p.m. - Tavares gets a goal to start the second period to cut the lead to 8-7, the closest Buffalo has been in quite a while.
9:06 p.m. - Funny how when the Bandits need some important goals, John Tavares is the one to get them. Are we sure he is 44? We have 8:50 left in the third quarter, and the Swarm is up, 8-7.
9:15 p.m. -- The scoring pace has slowed down a bit. Jordan MacIntosh has the only goal of the last few minutes. He took a relatively slow shot that seemed to fool Wagar. It went just over his shoulder and into a small opening in the top corner.
9:21 p.m. -- The score remains the same, as Led Zeppelin almost sang. It's 9-7, Minnesota after three quarters.
9:43 p.m. -- Computer problems here. We're at 12-12 with 4:34 to go. Nice burst by the Bandits but them ahead, and we've traded goals lately. A thriller.
9:48 p.m. - 30 seconds left. Minnesota has the ball, down one. Can't ask for much more than this for a season opener, eh?
9:51 p.m. - Bandits win it, 13-12. Big win by game two standards.
11:47 p.m. -- I resisted the temptation to ask Dhane Smith if the game-winner was the biggeest goal of his life as a pro. He said he shot without looking; ah, rookies.
This was a good win for the Bandits. With a bunch of divisional games on the horizon, the team didn't want to be 0-2 at this point in the season.
A couple of other notes - Mat Giles will resume practicing in the near future. The forward is on the injured list. Coach Darris Kilgour said that he'll let him become fully healthy before reaching a decision on his status. Derek Suddons was still weak from the flu but gave it his best shot for a while. He finally sat out the final few minutes because he had nothing left to give.
On to Rochester next week to see the defending champs.
--- Budd Bailey