6:50 p.m. - They're back.
The Bandits are ready to start another season. As usual, we can't possibly guess what might happen in the coming season. No one saw last season's second half meltdown, which resulted in the team missing the playoffs for one of the few times in its history. No one would have guessed a year ago that Darris Kilgour would be an ex-coach, and that Troy Cordingley would come down the QEW from Toronto to coach the Bandits.
That's where we are tonight. The NLL has an expanded schedule this season, going to 18 games from 16. That means another night in the FNC for indoor lacrosse action.
A couple of notes from the morning shootaround - the Bandits have to scratch two players, and the picks tonight are Chad Culp and Aaron Wilson. Competition up front is going to be very tough this season, as obviously Culp and Wilson can play in this league. Anthony Cosmo gets the start in goal. Cordingley told me that everyone on the roster is healthy.
I had the chance to talk to Tracey Kelusky at practice this morning. He'll be suited up for the Philadelphia Wings tonight. Tracey said he thought about retiring, but found that he still wanted to play and the Wings gave him that opportunity. Check out his thoughts in my Bandits notebook that will be in Sunday's paper.
7:28 p.m. - Ah, bagpipes. Haven't heard any in months.
7:29 p.m. - For those who keep track of such things - Joe Resetarits is wearing #5, Derek Suddons moves to #7, Ryan Benesch has #17, Andrew Watt wears #22, Rory Smith goes with #42.
7:39 p.m. - We're about ready to start. By the way, you can watch the game on YouTube. Go to nll.com for an easy link. Kyle Buchanan of Philadelphia has the game's lone goal.
7:57 p.m. - Bandits scored a power-play goal (Ryan Benesch) on a four-man passing play. I'm not sure I've ever seen more involved in a Buffalo goal in five-plus years. What did it look like? A Toronto power play. This is not a coincidence. It's 2-1, Philadelphia.
8:04 p.m. - The Wings have a 4-3 lead after a quarter. Benesch has two goals, Glen Bryan the third for Buffalo. Kyle Sweeney scored for Philadelphia. He was a Bandit in 2012.
8:15 p.m. - Good idea for a commercial break now. Lots of scoring on both ends. Philadelphia has a 6-4 lead with 9:51 to go in the period. Anthony Cosmo would like a couple of those shots that beat him back.
8:21 p.m. - Jordan Hall of the Wings has a natural hat trick, as they say in hockey. It's 8-4, Wings.
8:38 p.m. - Halftime. Buffalo has battled back with three late goals to get within 9-7. Hall has four goals for Philadelphia. Off to do radio.
9:02 p.m. - Only one goal in the first five-plus minutes of the second half, and Kelusky got it. He put Philadelphia ahead, 10-7.
9:09 p.m. - Billy Dee Smith got into a wrestling match with Garrett Thul, he of the U.S. Military Academy. Probably not a good idea to fight guys just back from West Point. Billy Dee held up well, though, as usual. It's 11-8, Philadelphia.
9:14 p.m. - Not sure if Philadelphia's 26 shots in the second period is the most against the Bandits in a period - the media guide hasn't been published yet - but it's impressive. The Wings only have nine in 11 minutes in the third period.
9:18 p.m. - Cosmo has let in two goals from long range, and he'll sit in favor of Kurtis Wagar. It's 13-8.
9:23 p.m. - After three quarters, Philadelphia has a 13-9 lead.
9:36 p.m. - It's been more bad news since the. The Wings are up 16-11 with 6:43 left. Going to take a lot to get back into this one.
9:50 p.m. - It didn't come - Bandits lose, 17-13.
11:38 p.m. - As you could imagine, the Bandits weren't too happy with their play. As Troy Cordingley put it, "We were terrible. We're lucky it's only Dec. 28."
Jordan Hall had five goals and two assists for the Wings, while Kelusky finished with two goals and four assists. Kevin Ross chipped in with three goals, while Kyle Buchanan went 3-5-8. Dhane Smith had three goals, while Mark Steenhuis had five points (2-3). Next up - Toronto, at home, in 13 days. Think Cordingley has that one circled on his calendar.
--- Budd Bailey