Bandits adjust to new normal

Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — April 25th, 2020 should have been the final game of the regular season for the Buffalo Bandits. Instead, it’s been almost seven weeks since the Bandits have played a game, and the National Lacrosse League cancelled the rest of the season due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s weird to think that a month ago we were together planning to play games and next thing you know the game you grew up playing is just taken from you. There’s obviously more important things, like everyone’s health, and making sure we get through this safe is the most important thing, but it is weird to think about,” Bandits transition Kevin Brownell said. “Talking with the guys, I realize I haven’t seen them in a month and a half, and it was overnight really. The NBA season shut down and then we get the call the next day that we were following suit. It happened so quick and we didn’t really get the chance to wrap your head around.”

“When the news came out that the season was suspended then cancelled, it sucked, but knowing that it was for the better and for the health of everybody, the staff, the players, the fans, everybody involved, I knew it was the right decision,” Bandits forward Chase Fraser said. “With tomorrow supposed to be the last regular season game, that would have been really nice to play in front of the fans wherever we were.”

The Bandits were sitting at 7-4, just half a game back from the top of the North Division, before play halted and everyone went their separate ways. Forced to practice on their own for the foreseeable future, the team does weekly Zoom meetings to stay connected and check in on each other.

“It’s a big part of keeping you sane, it’s a big part of keeping you connected. It’s such a team sport, and it’s a family atmosphere like with any team that anyone’s a part of, and just having that taken from you, it obviously changes the way you go about things,” Brownell said. “It’s kind of allowed us to keep in touch, and it gives you something to look forward to every week and just hear how different guys are coping with the new restrictions and what we’re allowed to do.”

The race to return to the NLL Championship is still at the top of the Bandits minds right now. The League has yet to set a return date for when teams could get back to playing games, but Buffalo players, and coaches, are staying ready for whenever that date comes.

“I’m preparing possibly for a playoff scenario, whether it’s possible to put a timeline on having a playoff, so we’re trying to prepare for any game that we may have if we do indeed have a playoff when we get back to normal life,” Bandits head coach John Tavares said.

“They are trying to get something in place with having playoffs in place so that we can get back on track to get on the road to win a championship for Buffalo,” Fraser said. “As of right now, everyone is just trying to stay in shape and healthy and keep their sticks in their hands for when we do get that call that we’re ready and willing to get back in action.”

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