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Bandits add depth in draft

By: Brayden Peters

OAKVILLE, ONT – It was a slow start for the Buffalo Bandits in the NLL Draft last weekend. Their biggest point of the night was trading out of the first round. The Bandits started out with six picks and ended up with four at the end of the draft. Looking back, general manager Steve Dietrich drafted to create competition in every are of the floor.

NLL Draft opening with commissioner Brett Flood (Photo/Chamberlain Bauder)

Buffalo initially had the 15th overall pick going into Saturday. However, the Knighthawks agreed with them to give their 2024 first round pick in exchange for Buffalo’s 15th pick. It was no surprise that the Knighthawks were involved in this trade as Rochester’s general manager, Dan Carey, is never afraid to make any moves.

Due to the trade, the Bandits did not make a selection until the 38th pick of the draft. With that pick, they drafted goaltender Evan Constantopoulos. The 6 foot 6 inch 230 pound goalie spent last season with the Oakville Buzz Jr. A program in the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League. It seems like a confusing decision to draft Constantopoulos as the Bandits traded for 2022 All-rookie goalie Steve Orleman from the New York Riptide during the offseason. Dietrich, had a no confusion.

“With Steven Orleman, Devlin Shanahan, and now Evan, I think we have some pretty good depth,” Dietrich said. “We needed to find some bodies and to find Steven and Evan to battle along with Devlin, it’s going to be a really competitive camp.”

Constantopoulos in his post draft interview (Photo/Chamberlain Bauder)

During his time with the Oakville Buzz Jr. A team last season, he had an .821 save percentage and a goals-against average of 8.74 in 18 games. He was ranked fourth in the league in both categories.

When the third round came, the Bandits selected Jake Rosa with their 53rd pick. The forward from St. Bonaventure will add fire power for the Bandits down low. Last season, he recorded 32 points, 21 goals, and 11 assists in just 13 games. Although he did not get any accolades that season, he was named MAAC First Team All-Conference for the 2021 season. The Bandits tend to draft or sign players from St. Bonaventure if they see them as a good fit for the team.

“Obviously we have a lot of confidence in head coach Randy Burns,” said Dietrich. “He tips us off on offensive players.”

The Bandits drafted Buffalo native Kellen Pulera in the fourth. The forward out of Marist College put up 11 points, 8 goals, and 3 assists in 12 games. The year before, though, he managed to put up three times the number of points in 2022 with 33. He received Second Team All-Conference honors for that season.

Pulera in the UCBLL (Photo/UpstateBoxLax)

Pulera gained his box experience under Buffalo Bandits with the Rapids of the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League. During his time in the UCBLL he recorded 79 points, 41 goals, and 38 assists. His coaches included Josh Byrne, Dhane Smith, Ian McKay, and Chris Cloutier. He is going to play one more year in the NCAA, with St. Bonaventure.

Duncan Carte was the Bandits final pick at 82 overall. He was tense until he was picked, he and another prospect were the last two present at the draft. After hearing his name, it was visible that the wait was worth it as he went to the defending champions. He played with the Brampton Express in the Arena Lacrosse League, recording 4 points, 1 goal, and 3 assists in 6 games last season. Carte was a man the Bandits were looking to select if they got the chance to.

“Duncan’s been on our radar,” said Dietrich. “We like that he’s big. We like that he’s physical. We think he might be an under the radar guy...”

Carte and Constantopoulos following the draft (Photo/Chamberlain Bauder)

The Bandits added depth and talent to their championship squad. Going into the upcoming season, though, it will not be easy to defend their title as they have huge targets on their backs. Coach John Tavares wants his team to remember what happened last year to help carry momentum into this season.

“Just remind them of the feeling in your heart when you won the championship just to get back and try to repeat that again,” Tavares said. “I think it’s enough of an incentive to want to push even harder, so we’d get back to where we were last year.”

The Bandits new prospects will be key to driving competition in camp. Whether they make the team or make a veteran rise to the occasion they will make the team better.

Bandits draft table (Photo/Chamberlain Bauder)

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