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Running notebook: Brief respite

Tell me how many people had this experience this past week:

They saw the sunny conditions on Tuesday and went out for a rare outside run ... only to see eight inches of snow land on the formerly cleared streets and parkways on Wednesday.

And so ... back inside. I felt a little like the Groundhog in Pennsylvania, who saw his shadow and headed back into the ground. Six more weeks of this? Bah humbug, to mix a metaphor.

Here's the weekly race calendar, again on the very small side, from

* The Lockport Y-10, 10 miles and 5 miles, 19 East Ave. in Lockport, 10 a.m. on Satuday, 434-8887. I often hear arguments that this should be a News Runner of the Year race. My reply is that the elements can play too big a role in this race to be a fair test. Besides, I like the idea that the season starts with the Shamrock Run. The Y-10 is a good race, and I'm happy it attracts plenty of runners who are loyal to it. I just don't see it as a great fit for the series. No disgrace in that; it will do fine without it.

* Olean Polar Bear Series, 5K, Wellsville YMCA, 1 p.m. on Sunday, 373-2400.

Finally, our sympathies to local runner Tom Proctor, whose wife recently passed away.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Rock

7:07 p.m. - Can the second weekend of a season be an important one for a team playing an 18-game season?

Probably not. Still, the Buffalo Bandits need to show something in their two games that are coming up. Buffalo hosts Toronto tonight, and then plays in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Bandits are coming off an opening night loss to the Wings. Now they play two divisional opponents. An 0-3 start would not be a good sign.

Coach Troy Cordingley will make a couple of changes to his lineup. Aaron Wilson and Chad Culp are in. David Brock and Joe Resetarits are out.

Anthony Cosmo is back in goal. He's under the microscope as well, although he didn't have much help two weeks ago.

For Toronto, old friend Chris White is on injured reserve and won't play tonight. The Rock did make one interesting move this week, signing Nick Diachenko to their practice squad. Diachenko was the Bandits' first choice in last fall's draft (2nd round). He did not make the Buffalo roster, but landed a spot with Toronto.

7:13 p.m - And congratulations to Kurtis Wagar, who became a new papa this week. He even tweeted a picture of him with his brand new daughter shortly after her arrival. Kurtis probably was pleased with her timing - he didn't have to miss a game.

7:29 p.m. - We may be playing the "smallest crowd since ..." game tonight. Buffalo had 13,564 in its home opener. That was the smallest crowd since March 8, 2008. Since the Bandits lost the opener, and Friday nights traditionally don't draw as well as Saturdays, we may have to go back a little further in that department. Buffalo's last four-digit crowd was on April 4, 2004, but we'll beat that tonight.

By the way, the wrestlers beat the Bandits to the Saturday night date this week.

7:46 p.m. - Only one goal so far, and it went to Toronto. Stephan Leblanc scored on the power play. Buffalo hasn't been too sharp in its passing so far and missed some opportunities as a result. Toronto hasn't been overwhelming either.

7:52 p.m. - Two early power-play goals have given the Rock a boost. Toronto has added two other goals, and now lead by 4-0. Cosmo was a little shaken up on the last goal, but will stay in the game. One of the goals was Colin Doyle's 400th as a member of the Rock.

7:59 p.m. - A dreary first period for the Bandits, who couldn't get much going. Toronto has a 4-0 lead and there's not much electricity in the building after those first 15 minutes. That's the 32nd time in team history that the team has been shut out in a period.

8:07 p.m. - No news is bad news for the Bandits. Buffalo still hasn't scored with 9:47 to go in the second quarter. Toronto is stuck at four for the moment, but the Rock has tried a ton of spectacular passes lately. The plays are just missing, but Toronto is still beating Buffalo to those loose balls. At the other end, many Bandit shots have been at long range and been swallowed by goalie Nick Rose.

8:12 p.m - Ryan Benesch ends the drought by scoring from close range. He scored on a three-on-two break. Buffalo had only gone an entire half without scoring, and that record is again safe.

8:16 p.m. - Buffalo's momentum after the goal lasted 37 seconds. Leblanc struck again to make it 5-1, Toronto. Cosmo has made a few good saves lately. 

8:28 p.m. - Halftime here. Toronto is up, 6-2, with Benesch scoring both Buffalo goals.

8:42 p.m. - Back to work.

8:48 p.m. - No scoring in the first six minutes. Steve Priolo of the Bandits had a good look on a 3-on-1, but hit the post. Cosmo had been quite solid for the most part tonight, and the defense in front of him has been better. But the offense is still missing.

8:56 p.m. - More of the same in the past few minutes. Both goalies have been stopping everything in sight. Naturally, this sort of stretch doesn't help the team trailing by four goals.

9:01 p.m. - Say, the Bandits have exploded. They have scored two goals in less than two minutes to cut the lead to 6-4. Steve Priolo and Benesch do the honors. And the Rock haven't done much on offense in a while.

9:04 p.m. - Yikes. It's 6-6 after goals by Chad Culp and Mark Steenhuis. And it stays that way at the end of the third quarter, with Toronto taking a major penalty that has 3:51 left. We've got ourselves a ball game.

9:15 p.m. - 11:15 to go in regulation, and it's 8-8. Toronto scored the last two goals to tie it. This all is as sudden as it is unexpected.

9:17 p.m. - The attendance checks in at 11,404 - smallest crowd since 2006.

9:25 p.m. - Only 5:41 left to play, with Buffalo clinging to a 10-9 lead.

9:34 p.m. - John Tavares got a huge power-play goal to put the Bandits ahead, 11-9. We have 1:46 left with the media timeout. It's been a thrilling final 20 minutes of play, especially for the Buffalo fans in the building.

9:40 p.m. - Bandits win a wild one, 12-10. Off to the postgame interviews.

11:44 p.m. - No big surprises from those interviewed. All were very happy to get a home victory; Troy Cordingley said he had talked about making Buffalo a tough place to play again since training camp. The stories will be posted on line shortly. Next up - Philadelphia on Sunday. Good night.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits blog - Live from First Niagara Center

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 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

Bandits notebook: A week to go

A few notes from today's morning workout at First Niagara Center:

* The captains for the team have been picked. John Tavares is the captain. One of the assistants will always be Shawn Williams. The other assistant's spot will be split between Billy Dee Smith and Mark Steenhuis.

* Coach Troy Cordingley reports there are no major injuries on the roster, so everyone should be good to go for the opener next Saturday night.

* Cordingley was asked about how Mitch Wilde made a spot on the practice squad, while Nick Diachenko - taken one spot earlier in the second round in September's draft - didn't. The coach replied that Wilde simply was the better player, based on an outstanding training camp. Cordingley added that it was tough to cut players this week not because they weren't good enough to play in the league, but because there just wasn't room for them on the roster.

14. Buffalo (from Edmonton) - Nick Diachenko, University of Delaware
15. Buffalo** (from Calgary) - Mitch Wilde, Robert Morris University - See more at:

* One transaction of interest slipped through the other day - the Philadelphia Wings cut ex-Bandit Luke Wiles. There has to be a story behind how someone went from an All-Star to unemployed in fewer than two years.

A full preview of the upcoming season, including an interview with NLL Commissioner George Daniel will be appearing in The News later this week.,

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits reach roster limit

The Buffalo Bandits released nine players on Monday to reach the 20-man roster limit for National Lacrosse League teams.

The biggest surprise among the moves may have been Nick Diachenko, who was the team's first draft choice in the 2013 draft. Diachenko went in the second round. Others to go are Dylan Goddard, Derek Hopcroft, Steve Fryer, Mike McNamara, Colin Boucher, Mitch Wilde, Hayden Smith and Jordan Critch.

Boucher, Critch, Smith and Wild were all placed on the team's practice squad. In addition, goalie Eric Penney was placed on injured reserve.

Rosters went from 23 players to 20 this season as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. That probably damaged the chances of Hopcroft and McNamara returning to the team. Both played for the Bandits last season.

Most of last year's team is back for the 2013-14 campaign. However, the listing of Mark Steenhuis as a forward was eye-opening. Steenhuis, once one of the top goal scorers in the league, has spent much of his time in a transition role in recent years. While Steenhuis is capable of playing either position, the roster listing may mean new coach Troy Cordingly will give the veteran a long look up front.

The opening night roster:

Forwards: Ryan Benesch, Chad Culp, Joe Resetarits, Jamie Rooney, Steenhuis, John Tavares, Shawn Williams and Aaron Wilson.

Transition: David Brock, Kevin Brownell, Dhane Smith, Jay Thorimbert and Andrew Watt.

Defensemen: Glen Bryan, Steve Priolo, Billy Dee Smith, Rory Smith and Derek Suddons.

Goaltenders: Anthony Cosmo and Kurtis Wagar.

The season begins on Dec. 28 at home against the Philadelphia Wings.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits: Hominuck retires

The teams of the National Lacrosse League must cut down to 20 people on their active roster by Monday at noon. It sounds as if Mike Hominuck decided opted to make the decision by the Buffalo Bandits' coaching staff a little easier.

The veteran forward of the Bandits has announced his retirement.

"I wish I could've played one more year, but it wasn't in the cards and I'm happy to be going out a Bandit," Hominuck said. "I will always be a supporter and continue cheering for the Bandits."

Hominuck, 32, played nine seasons in the NLL, three with the Bandits. In 102 games, he finished with 127 goals and 184 assists. Hominuck also played with Minnesota, Edmonton, Toronto and Philadelphia.

He was fairly effective last season with the Bandits. Hominuck did get caught in a numbers game at times last season, as the Bandits brought in many new faces during the 2013 season and had some problems finding adequate playing time for all of them.

For what it's worth, Hominuck was one of the best interviews on the team. He's an eighth-grade teacher in Welland, Ont., and is a smart, interesting person. Speaking as a media member, you hate to see those guys go.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: One more time

Here's a lesson that's worth repeating ... so I repeated it recently.

At an area race, a race director was saying how difficult it was to get established on the calendar. I gave him one bit of old advice - you'd be amazed how many people skip races because the awards are handed out in 10-year age-groups.

Think about it - if six extra people show up for a given race because there are five-year age-groups, that's an extra $150 in the pile (assuming an average of $25 for day-of-race registration). You can cover the cost of plenty of awards for $150.

In other news, Ed Whitlock of Toronto has run in Buffalo in the past. He was at it again in Toronto last week. Whitlock turned in a 3 hour, 41 minute marathon. Oh, right. Ed is 82 years old. That's an age-group record.

Here's the weekend list of races. It's another busy one, according to

* Strider Glider Quarter Marathon, Westwood Park in Lancaster, 9 a.m. Saturay, 713-6102. This race had a nice debut last year, clearing doing a lot right. It had better do it right, though, since runners were organizing it.

* Jack O'Lantern Fall Classic, 5K, Goat Island in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Saturday, 282-1228. It's always a pretty run, and there's prize money at the end for some runners.

* Maggie Lee Memorial 5K Run, 2 Nottingham Terrace in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 883-5396. This is a nice little race that goes around Delaware Park.

* LockRock 8K, 80 Main St. in Lockport, 10 a.m. Saturday, 478-4453. It's a new race, and it's interesting to see an 8K event at this point in the calendar. Good Turkey Trot practice.

* Making Tracks for Families 5K, 2909 S. Park Ave. in Lackawanna, 10 a.m. Sunday, 634-1058.

* Niagara Falls International Marathon, various, Buffalo to Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Sunday, (905) 356-9460.

* Alzheimer's Halloween 5K Fun Run, 540 Parkhurst Blvd. in Tonawanda, 2 p.m. Sunday. Interesting to see a race compete against a Bills' game. Also interesting that runners can purchase t-shirts if they want on, rather than being forced to accept one with registration. Active runners certainly will like that idea.

-- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Game on

Everyone seems happy that the National Lacrosse League and its players have a new collective bargaining agreement. This should include fans and, yes, journalists, so that there will be a season this winter and in years to come.

I'm not sure the two sides had much choice.

The league obviously isn't in great shape, with some franchises struggling at the gate. The whole sport has to grow in order to make it more attractive to possible new owners of expansion franchises.

To everyone's credit, both sides must have realized that the situation called for fixes. The NLL opened up the books, the players believed adjustments were needed, and they went to work and got a deal done quickly. It was the rational thing to do, but that doesn't mean the effort shouldn't be saluted.

The owners got a reduced roster - 23 to 20 is a good-sized cut. That's going to save some money. More importantly, it's going to make the league even more competitive. We're down to the 180 best players around now, so roster spots will be squeezed a little more. The players saw the age for unrestricted free agency drop by two years to 30, which seems more than fair. Interesting that Billy Dee Smith and Chad Culp of the Bandits were in that slot and thus benefit from the new deal. The practice roster does go up by one to four.

There's also a luxury tax of at least 25 percent starting at $400,000, and the numbers go up from there. Commissioner George Daniel said a few teams probably would have been over that number in the past, but that the reduced roster probably would make it easier to hit that target.

Here's one other interesting note about the CBA: A player older than 34 can walk away from a franchise designation, which would force a player to stay with a team otherwise. It was called "the Tavares rule" in the conference call. In other words, if the Bandits wanted John Tavares to stay with the team through the age of 45 without ever giving him the chance at free agency, they could. Since he's been around for more 20 years, he should have the chance at testing the open market if he so chooses. I don't think he's going anywhere - it sounds like Tavares will give playing a shot at training camp and then see what happens - but he and others in that situation deserve a shot.

The Bandits have been active in terms of transactions already this season. They still have players to sign, naturally, and there may be some new free agents out there later this year of interest. I would think that increased free agency would help teams in the traditional lacrosse hot beds like Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver (Rochester might be counted there too), so I'll be paying attention to how that shakes out. I saw on IL Indoor that John Grant Jr. has re-signed with Colorado, a good move by the Mammoth.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits' Harasym calls it a career

Whenever I went off on a speech about the working class nature of indoor lacrosse players, I usually pointed to Jon Harasym of the Bandits, who announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Harasym worked in suburban Toronto, often driving a snow plow truck during those winter days and nights. You know how much applause that job gets. Then, on Friday, he'd pack up the car, drive to Buffalo, and play lacrosse - where he would be cheered by 15,000 fans in the First Niagara Center.

Harasym wasn't the biggest guy on the field by any means. But he was relatively quick, which made him a threat to take off on transition, and played with an edge to his game. Plus, Jon was always a friendly guy. We just didn't have many reasons to talk to him after games, as others got the glory. Our loss.

Harasym finished with 48 points in spending most of six seasons here. 

"Jon is the epitome of what being a Buffalo Bandit is all about," said Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich.  "It’s guys like him who teammates appreciate the most.  He’s a blue collar, hard working guy who gave everything he had each and every time he came to the rink.  You don’t come across guys like Jon Harasym everyday." 

-- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Turn back the clock

The Buffalo Bandits had a good 2012 draft -- in 2013.

Stay with me a minute on this one.

The Bandits turned their initial second-round draft pick (the 10th pick overall) in Monday's National Lacrosse League draft into Joe Resetarits, who went sixth overall to Calgary in 2012. Each side gave up a second-round draft choice in the swap as well.

Let's say the second-rounders cancel each other out. So ... the Bandits get a top-six player for a 10th pick. Resetarits also has been in the league for a year, so he'll be more likely to contribute right away. And he's from Hamburg. if my Twitter feed is any indication, the move was a popular one with the fan base.

Joe's brother, Frank, spent parts of a couple of seasons with the Bandits. However, he was cut last year. Frank obviously wasn't too happy about the way things ended here, and understandably so. I would guess that the change in coaches by the Bandits made the trade a bit easier to take, at least around the Resetarits dinner table. And, maybe Frank will pop up at some sort of training camp tryout in December. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, the Bandits also acquired Mitch Jones from Vancouver. He was the Stealth's third-rounder in, you guessed it, 2012. He was a good scorer in junior plan in Ontario. Same logic applies to Jones as Resetaritis, although Jones has more to prove.

Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the draft picks. The second round picks, Nick Diachenko and Mitch Wilde, are said to be good-sized and athletic. Without knowing a thing about them, I'd say the Bandits can use those type of players.

Kevin Pym's name was a familiar one. His father, Dave, is part of the Bandits' front office and used to be the coach at Calgary. If his Twitter feed is any indication, Kevin loves lacrosse. Can't wait to see the contract negotiations there.

When the Bandits announced they had completed a trade with Toronto late in the sixth and final round of the draft, I wondered if General Manager Steve Dietrich had traded his rights back to Toronto. All right, I jest. But it was a sixth-rounder next year for the chance to take Dylan Goddard, a big Junior B scorer in Ontario.

Drafts are tough to judge in any sport, and it's particularly true in lacrosse. Most of the stars have come from the initial picks. But, from what I can tell a mere three hours after this draft's completion, the Bandits come away a better team tonight than they were last night. That's all you can ask.

Postscript: The Luke Wiles trade to Philadelphia took place this weekend. Wiles got off track last year, what with visa and contract problems. He certainly needed a fresh start. I thought he might get one under a new coach here, but he'll certainly get one in Philadelphia. In the meantime, I'll miss his great sense of humor when hanging around the Bandits.  

-- 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.