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Post Time: Derby draw complete, Chrome draws No. 5 post

By Gene Kershner

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The draw for the 140th Run for the Roses was completed this afternoon in the Secretariat Lounge on the second floor at historic Churchill Downs and morning line favorite California Chrome (5-2) drew the No. 5 post for 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman.

The Buffalo News' Derby coverage starts tonight and will continue through Oaks-Derby weekend, with online coverage here at the Sports, Ink blog and print coverage on Saturday and Sunday. We'll start a live blog when the stakes action kicks off on Derby day right here at the Sports, Ink.

The biggest story coming out of the draw was the position for the overwhelming favorite California Chrome who will start from the same position as the 2002 Derby winner War Emblem, the last horse to take them wire-to-wire. Sherman was fond of his horse's draws. "I like it fine. Victor (jockey Victor Espinoza) says he likes it. I'm happy and I feel no pressure," said Sherman.

Wicked Strong was going to be handicapper Mike Battaglia's second choice, but wound up in the outside post No. 20 and was dropped down to the third choice at 8-1. The only horse to win from post 20 was Big Brown in 2008. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens had mixed feelings about the outside post. "It might be that speed is quick and they get to rolling in a clump and he can draft in behind them and it'll work out. The one positive is that he's not in the gate very long. I'm trying to convince myself tht it's not a bad post, but i don't know if I can.

He swapped places in the morning line with the Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity (6-1) who has been training beautifully under the Twin Spires. "The only disadvantage is that he is going to have to wait in the gate for a long time, but I'd rather wait in the 11-hole than in the one-hole. I think he's the second choice because he's gotten the closest to California Chrome this year," said the three-time Derby winning trainer.

Vicar's in Trouble (30-1) drew the dreaded rail position, but was likely to go to the front regardless of his post position.  Now he'll have no choice. He'll have jockey Rosie Napravnik in the irons trying to become the first female jockey to win the Derby.

There were 21 horses entered in the Derby, with one also-eligible, Pablo Del Monte. He will have to wait to see if there is a scratch of any of the 20 horses by 9 a.m. on Friday when advance wagering on the Derby opens up.

To see statistical analysis on each of the 20 horses and information on the post positions over the pas 44 years, I've completed my annual Derby spreadsheet and my preliminary thoughts were in Friday's Degrees of Separation post. Check back here tomorrow for analysis on Friday's Kentucky Oaks.

There is a lot of speed inside California Chrome, so it will be interesting over the next few days trying to unravel the pace scenario puzzle that is a the key to selecting the Derby winner.

Here's a look at the field and morning line odds for Kentucky Derby 140....

Post   Position Horse  Morning Line Trainer  Jockey
1 Vicar's in Trouble  30-1 Maker Napravnik
2 Harry's   Holiday 50-1 Maker Lanerie
3 Uncle Sigh 30-1 Contessa I   Ortiz, Jr.
4 Danza 10-1 Pletcher Bravo
5 California Chrome 5-2 Sherman Espinoza
6 Samraat 15-1 Violette,   Jr. J   Ortiz
7 We Miss   Artie 50-1 Pletcher Castellano
8 General a Rod 15-1 Maker Rosario
9 Vinceremos 30-1 Pletcher Rocco   Jr.
10 Wildcat Red 15-1 Garrofalo L   Saez
11 Hoppertunity 6-1 Baffert ME   Smith
12 Dance With Fate 20-1 Eurton Nakatani
13 Chitu 20-1 Baffert Garcia
14 Medal Count 20-1 Romans Albarado
15 Tapiture 15-1 Asmussen Santana,   Jr.
16 Intense   Holiday 12-1 Pletcher JR   Velazquez
17 Commanding Curve 50-1 Stewart Bridgmohan
18 Candy Boy 20-1 Sadler Stevens
19 Ride On   Curlin 15-1 Gowan Borel
20 Wicked   Strong 8-1 Stewart Maragh
21 AE Pablo del   Monte 50-1 Ward Sanchez


Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan have a live show that airs on WBBZ-TV twice weekly, at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Continue reading "Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment" »

The death of Dr. Jack: Great links and audio clips from his days with the Braves

By Mike Harrington

Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay died today at age 89 and be sure to read Milt Northrop's tremendous reflection on Ramsay's life here.  Ramsay coached the Buffalo Braves from 1972-76 and Northrop covered the team throughout its history.

News Sports Reporter Budd Bailey has a fine online blog of Braves history and this segment documents the beginning of the Ramsay era. 

One of Ramsay's last interviews was apparently done with last month, albeit a brief one, with Jerry Sullivan, who wrote a column pushing the Sabres to honor the Braves in First Niagara Center.

And here's an incredible piece on written by Ramsay's son,  Chris,  who worked with his father at the network.

Former Bisons and Sabres voice Pete Weber, now the voice of the NHL's Nashville Predators,  emailed  me some audio clips of Ramsay from his voluminous collection of Buffalo sports sound. These are from a WEBR Radio documentary "Home of the Braves" and you can click to hear them below:

On the knee injury to Ernie DiGregorio

On Ernie D's return

On the 1975 trade of Gar Heard for John Shumate

Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

7:01 p.m. - Here it is, the last night of the regular season for the Buffalo Bandits, and we still don't know what's in store for them in the immediate future.

Yes, unlike last year, we know they will be in the playoffs. They will finish either second or third in the NLL East. But where? Second puts them at home a week from tonight against the Toronto Rock. Third puts them in Toronto, except at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.

In case you are wondering if two teams with non-winning records have ever met in the NLL playoffs, it didn't me long to find an example of that. Rochester and Philadelphia were both 7-9 in 2012 when the playoffw opened. Toronto and Buffalo are both 8-9.

Now ... Toronto is playing in Minnesota at 8 p.m. If Buffalo wins or Toronto loses, the Bandits are home next week. Otherwise ... it's up the QEW.

Not much news at practice this morning. Troy Cordingley indicated that Andrew Watt would be in the lineup tonight. But something changed between then and now. He is listed as a scratch. Aaron Wilson is said to be on injured reserve. Kevin Brownell is still in the lineup - he was supposed to sit for Watt. It looks like Jamie Rooney was activated but scratched, based on the lineup sheet.

Joel Matthews gets to play game number two tonight. He debuted last week, and played pretty well against Rochester.

It looks like a very good crowd tonight, probably the best of the season. It is Fan Appreciation Night.

7:10 p.m. - And if you were hoping the Knighthawks might give Matt Vinc an extra week off by starting someone else in goal tonight, no such luck. He is the listed starter. Vinc was brilliant last week in beating the Bandits.

7:21 p.m. - Anthony Cosmo will get the start in goal again for the Bandits. If you are wondering, and I did, Kurtis Wagar has played in two games this season, for a total of 20 minutes. It's tough backing up the team's MVP, but Wagar has maintained his good sense of humor.

7:32 p.m. - Come to think of it, in 2013, Rochester played Philadelphia last year in the first round of the playoffs ... and neither side had a winning record. Rochester was 8-8; Philadelphia was 7-9.

7:38 p.m. - One obvious thought about tonight's game - easy to wonder if this could be - could be - the last game in Buffalo for John Tavares. We'll have to see, of course.

7:45 p.m. - Bandits have gotten off to a poor start. It's 4-0, Rochester after less than five minutes. Ugh.

8:00 p.m. - Rochester takes 6-3 lead with 3:41 left in period. Cosmo has been chased; he wasn't playing well but didn't get much help.

8:03 p.m. - And now it's 6-4. Buffalo has equalled its goal total for the entire game last week. It's going to be one of those nights.

8:07 p.m. - That's the way it winds up after the first period. Joel Matthews had his first NLL goal late in the period for Buffalo.

8:11 p.m. - Building have some searchlights that come on in different colors tonight. Looks like disco has returned. In other news, Cosmo came back on the field for the start of the second quarter.

8:19 p.m. - Bandits tied it up on goal by Resetarits - 6-6. Shots are 23-13.

8:26 p.m. - Knighthawks get three in a row to lead, 9-6. This is a little like the old days, with lots of scoring and up-and-down play.

8:30 p.m. - Matthews cuts the lead to 9-7, and now there's 3:38 left in the period. My guess is that the place is about full.

8:35 p.m. - Toronto and Minnesota are tied, 1-1, late first quarter.

8:38 p.m. - Rochester's Sid Smith steals the ball with 15 seconds left, and scores into a vacated net - Buffalo had pulled Cosmo in anticipation of setting up the last shot. Never seen that before, in six years.  Rochester exits with a 10-9 lead at half. Off to do a radio interview on 1520 AM with John Gurtler.

8:56 p.m. - Third period starts. Toronto leads, 4-2, late second.

9:01 p.m. - Power-play goal by Benesch ties the game again at 10-10. Toronto leads Minnesota, 4-2, with less than a minute in the half. Rock has taken 35 shots.

9:09 p.m. - Rochester goes back up, 12-10, on two goals by Johnny Powless.

9:17 p.m. - Steenhuis' completed hat trick cut the margin to 12-11 with one quarter left.

9:24 p.m. - Two short-handed goals by the Knighthawks on the same penalty. Ouch. That's bigger than huge in that situation. It's 14-11, Rochester, with 12:13 to play.

9:34 p.m. - It's not 16-11 Rochester, with 6:06 left.

9:40 p.m. - Buffalo strikes twice to cut it to three. 3:05 left.

9:45 p.m. - 16-14, Rochester, with 1:02 left.

9:49 p.m. - Rochester wins, 16-14.

--- Budd Bailey


Post Time: Degrees of Separation - Derby 140

By Gene Kershner 

We're eight days from the Run for the Roses and it's time for the annual Degrees of Separation post where we separate the contenders from the pretenders within some fun divisions. I've been putting this together for the past six years and this year is no different.

It's a light look at the current qualifiers based on the current leaderboard, a week out and before the post position draw to help segregate the horses I'm high on versus the throw-outs come Derby day. Before we jump into Derby 140, let's take a moment to review some of my better (and really bad) quotes from past Degrees of Separation posts.


Mine That Bird: "Slowest of the slow" (Not my best work)


Super Saver: "Really warming up to this one. Pletcher's best chance to wear the roses. Sports Monarchos' sire, his dam sire is A.P. Indy, so he has the pedigree AND the King of Churchill in the irons. Dangerous." (Don't say so myself)

Ice Box:  "If there's a pace meltdown, he will be around to claim a prize." (Make that an ice cold exacta, son)


Animal Kingdom: "Really loved his move in the Vinery Spiral Stakes, but he looks more like a dynamite turf horse than a Derby champ." (Oops)

Shackleford: "Really would have loved to see him in the Preakness versus the Derby, hope the race doesn't wreck him, looks like a monster." (Bingo)


I'll Have Another: "I dig this horse. His daddy, Flower Alley, had a troubled trip in the 2005 Derby and is a Travers winner and BC Classic runner-up. Could be my top pick - we'll see how he draws on Wednesday." (Drew 19, dropped him into my second tier…whoops)


Orb: Likely favorite after his two big wins at Gulfstream with matching Beyer Speed Figures. He'll be on top of my tickets. (Boom)

Palace Malice: Late charger who seems to be a Belmont horse to me. I like him very much, and will keep an eye on his draw, his daddy Curlin won the Preakness and was nosed out of the Belmont. (Wow)

So let's get down to business and reveal our 2014 Degrees of Separation for Kentucky Derby 140:

The AMC Gremlin Division: My father bought my mother an American Motors Corporation (AMC) Gremlin back in the 70s and it was a thing of beauty. Bright red, sleek gold stripes, the works. Problem just wasn't fast. These are the horses that represent this division, and qualify as my throw-outs:

Candy Boy: I just can't get behind this Candy Ride colt, even with Stevens in the irons. The only thing going for him is he's gone against some pretty stiff competition and is tested.

Uncle Sigh:  *Audible sigh* His connections likely are just happy to be in the race. Couldn't knock off Samraat in three tries, you know what they say about three strikes….

Ring Weekend: He couldn't win the Calder Derby, hear what I'm sayin'?

Vinceremos: Will take some money based on his trainer, but can't see him making much noise on Derby day.

The Pamela Anderson Divison: This is the spot where horses have made it to the Derby starting gate by winning on the faux dirt and will most likely not make due on the real stuff under the Twin Spires.

We Miss Artie: His daddy was a turf specialist and this guy won on the fake stuff at Turfway Park in the Spiral. Wouldn't be too smarty to bet on Artie.

Harry's Holiday:  Another turf horse who was right behind Artie in the Spiral. Thanks for coming.

Dance with Fate: Blue Grass winner was impressive winner at Keeneland, but don't tempt fate as he could be the Paddy O' Prado/Dullahan horse that rounds out the trifecta.

Medal Count: Second-place finisher in the Blue Grass behind Dance with Fate. He has stamina in his pedigree and if he's going to make the medal stand, bronze is the only color I'm counting on.

The Indy 500 Division: Currently empty as whoever draws the rail (pole) will be a toss and will be the automatic qualifier for this spot.

The George Costanza Human Fund Division: These will be the horses that taking in a lot of money and have a little (or lot of) hype, but will be unmasked in the Derby and will not be a factor.

Vicar's in Trouble: If Rosie rides she'll attempt to be the first female jock to wear the roses. That will take some dough-ray-me at the windows. This one is growing on me for a potential exotics position underneath.

Danza:  Big win in Arkansas. Check. Triple Digit Speed Figure. Check. Named after a famous celebrity. Check. Money sapped at windows. Check.

The Afleet Alex Divison: Horses that won't win the Derby, but will have to be respected and could hit the board. Horses qualifying here have the potential to become a Classic winner down the road in either the Preakness Stakes or the Belmont Stakes. We nailed this one last year as Palace Malice and Oxbow were the two horses in this division.

Ride on Curlin: His sire won the Preakness and finished second in the Belmont, he's still maturing, will prefer the shorter distance he'll get at Pimlico.

Vicar's in Trouble: Doing double-duty with this horse (see Human Fund division) as I think he could be a sleeper in the Belmont if things don't go his way in the Derby. 

The Brett Favre Division: The horses that are bound for this division are those I just can't make up my mind out as we sit one week out from the Run for the Roses. Include them, exclude them....indecision has set in.

Samraat: Is he Alpha 2.0? Is he the kind of horse that wins the Travers later in the year when all of the other 3-year-olds are done for the year? I'm not sure, but I don't think he's going to suck any of money out of my wallet.

Wildcat Red: So far he has brought his A-game and survived despite what his pedigree is telling me. Can he continue to carry through his respectable showing in the Florida preps?

Tapiture: Was really into this horse's progression until he threw a clunker in the Arkansas Derby. Is that enough to keep him off my tickets?  Probably.

Intense Holiday: How good was the Louisiana Derby? It hasn't been a key race for the Derby for several years. I'm on the fence with this one, but leaning on including him in the...

Charlie Sheen Division: The horses I think have the best chance at...wait for it...winning!

California Chrome: I'm not picking him to win, but no other colt has been as impressive during the prep season as this son of Lucky Pulpit. But can a son of Lucky Pulpit win the Derby?

Wicked Strong: Really love this horse. Easily could have placed him in the Human Fund Division for the #BostonStrong element. Derby winner Charismatic is his dam sire. Worried about traffic issues with his late running style, but has the goods to get it done. In addition, I picked the Wood Memorial winner to win the Derby back in December.

Hoppertunity: He'llprobably win the Preakness on me and will be testing the Curse of Apollo, but Mike Smith is a big race rider and Baffert will have him ready to fire on Derby day.

That's a wrap on this year's 2014 degrees of separation. It always helps me to flesh out the field this way, as you can't bet 'em all, so this gives me a fun and light way to segregate the field prior to the big day.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.

Running notebook: Moving closer

Here's an update on what's up with this year's Western New York Running Hall of Fame class.

The nominating committee on Wednesday night went through all those nominated, and then worked to get the list down to only 10 names. From there, the Board of Directors will make the second cut, and we'll have a maximum of five people who will be honored. Athletes, coaches and contributors are all under consideration.

The winners will be announced on May 25 - Marathon Sunday in Buffalo. Then they will be honored at the Champions 5K race on August 29. Speaking as a nominating committee member, I can safely say that several outstanding candidates were considered, as usual.

You can build your resume by running in this weekend's races, with the list courtesy of Remember, winners of local races get a free entry into the Champions 5K. OK, enough of the free plug. Here's the rundown of a busy weekend:

* Buffalo Undy 5000, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, (202) 628-0123 x104.

* Mathletes Cindy Frank Memorial 5K, 1339 Indian Church Road in West Seneca, 9 a.m. Saturday, 668-7081.

* Saps Run, 10K/5K, 31 N. Main St. in Franklinville, 9 a.m. Saturday, 372-8184. Note - the race title is not a comment on the participants. By the way, there is no entry fee, but a donation (food or financial) to the local food pantry is requested.

* UB Run for Smiles, 5K, 3435 Main St. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, (585) 507-1898. This event will start and end at the Health Sciences Library quad at UB.

* Run Forest Run 5K, 250 N. Forest Road in Williamsville, 10 a.m. Saturday, 545-7775. This will be held at Forest Elementary School.

* Envirun 5K, Whirlpool State Park in Niagara Falls, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 858-7897. It's a new location for this race, with plenty of free parking.

* Earth Run, 5K, 12857 Route 438 in Irving, 11 a.m. Saturday.

* Laps for Limbs, 1 Hour Run, St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, 9 a.m. Sunday, (607) 435-8715. Run as far as you can on the St. Francis track to raise money for amputees.

Meanwhile, the SUNY Buffalo Law School race for Sunday morning has been cancelled. And I was going to run that one, too.

By the way, Sunday's running column has the story of a Boston Marathon runner who needed an extra year to get to the finish line. It's quite the dramatic ending.

-- Budd Bailey

Live from Rochester - Bandits vs. Knighthawks

7:18 p.m. - Greetings from the Blue Cross Arena. The Bandits try to get back on the winning track tonight as they play the Knighthawks. Buffalo has lost six in a row, tying the franchise record set last year. Second place has not been clinched - stop me if you've heard that before - as the Bandits need a win or a Toronto loss to wrap up the home field in that first round game.

The Bandits have made a couple of roster moves since last night. Joel Matthews has been activated off the practice squad. Kevin Brownell is off the injured list. The scratches are Aaron Wilson and Glen Bryan.

Anthony Cosmo will be starting in goal. It's a back-to-back weekend for him. Cosmo said after the game Friday that he likes playing two games in two nights; it makes it sharper.

7:28 p.m. - Rochester has nothing to play for tonight. The Knighthawks have clinched first place in the division, and can't catch Edmonton in the overall standings. However, a Buffalo uniform usually brings out the best in Rochester, so this could be a spirited contest ... as usual. '

7:38 p.m. - Andrew Watt and Jamie Rooney are not on the roster at the moment. No word on their situation.

7:50 p.m. - Lots of action going on, but not much scoring. John Tavares made a spectacular cross-field pass to Joe Resetarits, who stuffed the ball in the net. How did he even see him? That's the only goal of the game with 6:58 to go in the first quarter.

7:56 p.m. - Derek Hopcroft has popped up on the Rochester roster. Hopcroft was a Bandit last season, but didn't make the team out of training camp. He sort of got lost in the shuffle among a crowded group of forwards last season. This is his first game of the season as a Knighthawk.

8:01 p.m. - Remember, the Bandits did not lead for a second in Friday night's game.

8:03 p.m. - We're done with a period, and Buffalo has a 1-0 lead. Buffalo hasn't capitalized on a couple of power plays, although it did get a score at the start of the period with the man-advantage.

8:14 p.m. - Rochester finally gets on the scoreboard, and follows with another goal to take a 2-1 lead. Hopcroft had the second on a nice feed from Cody Jamieson.

8:22 p.m. - Johnny Powless has two goals in 24 seconds for the Knighthawks. That turns it into a 4-1 Rochester margin. Buffalo's offense hasn't scored in about 37 minutes.

8:30 p.m. - Buffalo held to a single goal in the first 30 minutes. That's one better than its last trip, but still not good enough. The teams had to the dressing room with a 4-1 lead for Rochester.

8:46 p.m. - Back to work.

8:50 p.m. - Dhane Smith just beat Vinc, but goal was wiped out by a crease violation. Challenge turned down. Looked like he let the shot go in time; question was whether it got to the net before Smith landed. Troy Cordingley sure thought it did.

8:54 p.m. - Bandits fight back with two goals to cut it to 4-3. Hmmm.

8:57 p.m. - Rochester responds on a goal by Brad Self. A Bandit may have screened Cosmo on the play. So... it's 5-3 with 9:39 to go in the third quarter.

9:06 p.m. - Powless now has a hat trick for Rochester as the Bandits trail, 6-3.

9:11 p.m. - That's where the score stands after three quarters.

9:21 p.m. - Bandits now trail, 7-4, with 9:26 left. Ryan Benesch has the latest Buffalo goal.

9:29 p.m. - Short-handed goal by Rochester makes it 8-4 with 4:39 left. That might do it.

9:40 p.m. - Bandits lose, 8-4. That's an all-time worst for goals in a game.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan have a live show that airs on WBBZ-TV twice weekly, at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Continue reading "Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment" »

All is quiet regarding Macker

Silence can either be golden or a warning sign. When it comes to the status of this June's Gus Macker basketball tournament in Buffalo, though, one feels like he/she should brace for an alert.

Just two weeks ago, tournament organizers, Buffalo Police Athletic League and Gus Macker, said the sides were close to a deal to hold the annual 3-on-3 tournament that's as much of a WNY tradition as wings. So close that PAL Executive Director Modie Cox said an agreement was being looked over by a PAL lawyer and that once the attorney signed off on it, it would officially be game on.

Either the PAL's lawyer is still examining it, or found something in the deal that wasn't to PAL's liking and did not sign off on it.

Which is it? Nobody's talking, but smart money could be placed betting on the latter.

Cox didn't return messages left for him.

Scott McNeil of Gus Macker said Wednesday he hasn't been told it's been cancelled when asked that question point blank, but did say PAL was trying to come up with different things?

Sounds like the sides did hit a snag if renegotiation has become part of the process, again. It seems to be a bit late in the game to still be figuring out logistics. Yet, it makes no sense for PAL to hold a fundraiser event like the Macker if there's no chance of it making a profit -- with or without assistance of a major sponsor.

Two months from Saturday traditionally would have been the start of the tournament, with a who's who of area talents flaunting their skills much to the delight of the masses in attendance.

Barring a furious late rally, that remains to be seen.

--- Miguel Rodriguez

Live from the Air Canada Centre: Bandits vs. Rock

6:37 p.m. - Hello from Toronto. It's Good Friday, and all the stores are closed on this side of the border. That made for an easy trip up for tonight's game between the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock. I believe this is the second such game in recent years between the teams on Good Friday, and the idea certainly has my approval. 

It's a big game for both teams relatively speaking. There is something at stake here, as second place has not been decided in the NLL East. Buffalo would have to lose its remaining games, while Toronto would have to win its two. That's not out of the question, The Bandits play in Rochester Saturday and then come home next week to face the Rock, and the Knighthawks wouldn't mind spoiling that party. Toronto plays Minnesota next week. Buffalo, therefore, would like to win this one right here and get to rest its regulats a little bit.

Kevin Brownell has been sent to the disabled list with a case of the fly. David Brock is back in the lineup, as Jamie Rooney is the other scratch. 

Anthony Cosmo will start in goal for Buffalo. When he makes his 17th save tonight, that will be his 663rd save of the season. That would break the NLL record for saves in a season. The old mark was set last year by Matt Vinc of Rochester. Cosmo will be doing it in his 16th game of the season, the same as last season's schedule. So, you'd have to say he earned this one as opposed to taking advantage of the 18-game schedule.

6:43 p.m. - The league announced today it is trying something new with its awards. Three finalists for the various honors will be announced after the season in the month of June. Then there will be a ceremony in Toronto on August 31. Sounds like a good idea, although following the hockey example of doing it right after the playoffs probably would give it a bigger publicity boost. But I'm told there will be an NLL camp here in late August, so it will go along  with that. We'll see how it works out. 

6:46 p.m. - By the way, Josh Sanderson and Jimmy Purves are scratched tonight. Nick Diachenko is playing for Toronto. He was the Bandits' first second-round draft choice last fall, but didn't make the team. He's found a spot in Toronto for now. Nick Rose will start in goal.

I saw Troy Cordingley in the hallway before the game tonight. I asked if he had any trouble finding the visiting locker room. "It's only been four years," he said with a laugh. Cordingley used to come in here as coach of Calgary before he took the Toronto job. He won championships in both places.

6:48 p.m. - By the way, tonight's game is on Radio 930 AM. No pregame show. Tomorrow, the game is back on Radio 1520 AM. I had it wrong in the newspaper this morning, but at least got it corrected for the online edition.

7:07 p.m. - One of the best crowds I've seen up here. The lower bowl has lots of people in it. Well, it is fan appreciation night. Wonder if I'll win anything?

7:15 p.m. - Mitch Jones as the goal for the Bandits, as it's 1-1 with 5:10 gone. Jones just finished up his college hockey season and then joined the Bandits. He's looked good.

7:28 p.m. - Bandits trail, 3-2. Kasey Beirnes with a pair for Toronto.

7:34 p.m. - Brief delay while the officials sort out a scrum. It started when Steve Priolo checked Rob Marshall into the Buffalo bench, although checked might not be the right word. Lots of pushing and shoving. 

7:40 p.m. - Rock has a 5-2 lead after 15 minutes. Shots are 17-11, Toronto. The Bandits haven't been able to get their transition game going, while Toronto has gotten in good shooting position frequently.

7:52 p.m. - Bandits have turned their fortunes around at the start of the second quarter. They have tied the game at 5-5. John Tavares, Aaron Wilson and Shawn Williams have the goals. 

8:00 p.m. - Cosmo has broken the record for most saves in a season. Bandits trail, 6-5.

8:09 p.m. - And that's the way it winds up after a half. Fairly even 30 minutes, even if Buffalo never led.

8:25 p.m - Ready to go for teh second half. Toronto has a 31-24 edge in shots.

8:34 p.m. - Stephan Leblanc ends a rather dull stretch of play with a Toronto goal; it's 7-5.

8:42 p.m. - Bandits got the deficit back to two on a goal by Mark Steenhuis,

8:51 p.m. - Toronto has a 9-7 lead after three periods. Could have been closer, but Toronto won a challenge on another Steenhuis score. 

9:01 p.m. - Bandits trail, 10-7, with 9:04 left in the game. 

9:11 p.m. - Time is a factor now, as Buffalo trails, 10-8, with 4:31 to play. A six-game losing streak looms. 

9:18 p.m. - Toronto up, 12-9, with 1:15 left.

9:23 p.m. - It ends, 13-9, Toronto. Bandits have lost six in a row, matching their longest-ever losing streak (last year). 

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.