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McCulley Ready to Face Former Team as Warriors Gear Up for Defensive Battle Against Bandits

Brad McCulley tries to approach every game with the same mindset and prepare the same way, no matter how big the moment is. 

The left-shot forward faces his former team, the reigning NLL Cup Champion Buffalo Bandits this weekend. In January, McCulley was acquired from Buffalo for ‘24 and ‘26 second-round picks and is happy to have championship experience and success during his time with Buffalo. 

“Going back to my university days, my college coach preached that no game was bigger than any other one. You just have to treat every game the same and that’s a motto I’ve stuck with as much as I can,” McCulley said. “Sometimes it’s hard being traded, and getting to play them adds a little bit of extra fire from me for sure. It is just another game, but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to.” 

McCulley says the Warriors are ready for the Bandits’ physical defense on Friday night and Vancouver’s got a top-tier defense of their own to contend with. Vancouver practices hard, pushing each other to prepare for tough matchups like Buffalo. Going up against the Warriors’ defensive group every day sometimes leaves McCulley with a few bumps and bruises. 

“You’ve got Dilksy (Ryan Dilks) leading the entire league in forced turnovers, you got Beersy (Matt Beers) jumping in front of all these shots, we have so many guys back there. I think Owen Grant is phenomenal, Reid Bowering, Jackson Suboch, Brayden Laity, you can go down the list — our defense is good. When those guys are playing well and firing on all cylinders, they’re tough to get around and they’re not going to make it easy. They don’t even make it easy in practice, I come out of some practices feeling sore and tired thinking ‘what is going on’, even in warm-ups. We’ve got a bunch of intense guys back there and guys who want to win and compete, so I have nothing but faith in that group.” 

Ryan Dilks is leading the NLL with 26 forced turnovers and Matt Beers is currently the NLL’s runner up in shots blocked with 15 so far this season.  

He believes in the Warriors’ defense wholeheartedly and feels he owes it to his teammates on the back end to score more goals on the offensive end. McCulley scored his first goal as a Warrior on the road against Georgia and has four points, one goals and three assists, through five games. 

“The goal against Georgia was nice. I would very much like to have a few more. I think personally, there were a few nerves being on a new team, and trying to find my rhythm, but those are gone now. I think I have some chemistry with the guys in the offence and understand what we’re trying to do, and I want to produce,” McCulley said. 

The Victoria native helped coach Warriors’ transition player Marcus Klarich in his last year of Junior A with the Victoria Shamrocks and has played against Ryan Martel, Anthony Kalinich, Tyson Kirkness, and a few others. He says sharing a locker room with them now has been a “nice fit”. 

Warriors’ General Manager and Head Coach Curt Malawsky liked the offensive looks his team got in their last game against the Toronto Rock. A strong goaltending performance from Nick Rose meant the ball didn’t find the back of the net as many times as it may have in other games. 

McCulley says those looks will eventually fall if they continue to get to the right spots on the floor and take the shots they’re given. 

“We just have to stay the course and keep doing little things at a high level that are going to make us successful and just hope that it pays off in the end.” 

With parity in the NLL and many close games throughout the season, the Warriors are dialed in for their matchup against Buffalo, who is sitting 5-5 just over halfway through the season. 

“Everyone has good defenders, good goaltenders, good offensive guys, it’s just about putting it together and working hard, getting bounces and seeing the ball go in the net which is huge for confidence,” McCulley said. “It’s anybody’s night any given time.” 

Vancouver Warriors