2022-2023 Outlook: Buffalo Bandits

Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network

Buffalo Bandits 2021-2022 Season: 14-4 record, first place in the East Division, Lost to Colorado Mammoth in the NLL Championship

Key Losses: Kevin Brownell, Connor Fields

Key Additions: David Brock, Greg Harnett, Carter McKenzie, Devyn Mayea, Brandon Robinson

Always the bridesmaid, but never the bride. The Buffalo Bandits continue to build a winner year-in and year-out, yet can’t win a championship. They’ve made it to the finals three times in the past five seasons in which the finals were played, but have never lifted the cup.

Back in 2016, they lost a thrilling series 2-0 against the Saskatchewan Rush off of Jeff Cornwall’s last-second goal in Game 2. They’d return to the finals in 2019 only to lose 2-0 to the Calgary Roughnecks. After the NLL championship was not played in 2021 due to the pandemic, the Bandits returned to the final last year, but again fell short 2-1 against the Colorado Mammoth.

So, the burning question heading into this year is have they done enough to finally lift the NLL Cup and how many more cracks will they have before going into rebuild mode?

Offense

Once again, the Bandits should be bringing a high-powered offense with the likes of Dhane Smith, Josh Byrne, Chase Fraser, Chris Cloutier, Tehoka Nanticoke, and Kyle Buchanan.

As stated above, however, how sustainable will this offense be a year or two down the road? Guys like Smith and Buchanan aren’t getting any younger.

It will also be interesting to see how Nanticoke fares going into his sophomore season. After getting off to a relatively slow start last season, he picked it up near the end to finish with 51 points in 18 games and 14 points in six games in the playoffs. Nanticoke is a guy they are banking on to lead them in the future and they will be looking for him to take the next step this season.

Otherwise, the only other question would be depth on the left side. After Byrne and Cloutier you’ve got Thomas Vaesen, Brad McCulley, Justin Guterding, Nick Miller, and Colin Munro.

Defense

The Bandits are bringing in at least 15 defensemen and five transition players into training camp, so they definitely will not be lacking depth.

They brought in extra veteran leadership with the signing of Greg Harnett. This goes along with Ian MacKay, Max Adler, Jordan Stouros, Nick Weiss, Steve Priolo, and Matt Spanger just to name a few of the veterans on this squad.

Again, there are some aging stars in Buffalo’s defensive core that can win this year but may not be around in a year or two. Keep in mind as well that this was a defense that was second to last in loose balls with 1,259 and sixth in the league in caused turnovers with 172. There are always intangibles, but statistically, there is room to grow.

Goaltending

There is no doubt who the number one guy for the Buffalo Bandits is. This is Matt Vinc’s team until he decides to hang ’em up.

What is more interesting is the battle behind Vinc for the back-up job. Doug Buchan is a veteran who has seen playing time, but for the most part in his career has been a back-up.

Then you have Devlin Shanahan. Shanahan had an outstanding summer in the WLA with the Nanaimo Timbermen, going 5-1 in six regular season games with a goals against average of 9.17 and a .802 save percentage. He was 8-3 for the Timbermen in the playoffs with an 8.47 GAA and .823 save percentage.

Don’t be surprised if you see the Bandits move on from Buchan as Shanahan looks like the heir apparent to Vinc.

Don’t forget to check us out every Sunday night at 9 pm (ET)

Shawn Slaght
Shawn Slaght

Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years and has experience covering everything from junior hockey to World Cup skiing to all levels of lacrosse. He is the Saskatchewan correspondent for All Lacrosse All The Time.

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