February 27, 2013

Miller, Cosmo NLL Opponents and Hockey Teammates

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

When Wings goaltender Brandon Miller stares across the floor this Friday, he'll see good friend and rec league hockey teammate Anthony Cosmo in the Buffalo Bandits' goal.
© Philadelphia Wings

Brandon Miller and Anthony Cosmo will be opponents Friday and teammates Sunday.

No, we're not predicting an NLL trade.

Philadelphia's No. 1 goalie and Buffalo's No. 1 goalie will be at opposite ends of the floor when the Wings and the Bandits clash in a huge game at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Friday night. They both live in Orangeville, Ontario, which is an hour's drive northwest of Toronto, and they'll lace up the skates there and be defense partners in a recreational hockey league playoff game Sunday night.

That's not all they do. They have lifestyles that make the rest of us look like slackers. Miller wears a hard hat working outdoors to maintain Hydro One power lines during the week, while Cosmo oversees a classroom as a schoolteacher. They have young and active families that are closely connected.

''My wife looks after his two kids on weekdays,'' Miller said. ''Anthony drops them off on his way to work. We get to talk about how things are going in Banditland and in Wing country. And we get together to play hockey.''

Philadelphia (4-3) and Buffalo (4-3) are tied for second place in the NLL East. They split two earlier meetings so the winner Friday will own the standings tiebreaker. As closely as their lives are intertwined, they'll have little to do with each other while stopping shots.

''We don't come face to face in an NLL game,'' Miller said. ''We're 200 feet apart from each other, other than the few times we walk past each other going to the benches.''

The Bandits' Anthony Cosmo is one five NLLers on he and Miller's hockey team.
© Bill Wippert/Buffalo Bandits

Whether they are on a green carpet or on a sheet of ice, Miller and Cosmo are intense competitors who share a healthy outlook.

''Everybody in the lacrosse community is extremely close,'' Cosmo said. ''There is a competitiveness in everything we do but, mainly, it's a lot of fun, and it puts things into perspective as far as what is really important: friends and family.''

Cosmo was asked which of the two is the better hockey player.

''We're about the same but I think that when he gets a chance to play a forward position he's got more of a touch around the net than I do,'' he said.

Miller missed last Sunday's hockey game because the Wings had a Sunday afternoon home tilt. Cosmo's Bandits had a scheduled bye so he was able to suit up and help Blackstock Ford to a win. Miller will be back in the lineup and working closely with Cosmo trying to stop opposition rushes when they square off against Orangeville Super Lube in the first game of a best-of-three league final. Other NLL players on the hockey team are Glen Bryan of the Bandits, Rob Hellyer of the Toronto Rock and Bruce Codd, who is an assistant coach with the Calgary Roughnecks.

''We've got a good mix of guys,'' Miller said. ''Everyone is pretty excited about getting to the final. That's for fun. The [lacrosse] I can lose sleep over.''

The lacrosse game is up first.

''It's been a rollercoaster season,'' Miller, 33, said of the Wings' progress. ''Every win in this league is so tough because the parity is so tight. We started with two big wins. Then we had a one-goal loss to Buffalo followed by two real stinkers that made us question ourselves and ask ourselves what kind of commitment we were making. Then came a week off to clear our heads and a good practice Thursday in Rochester [before a 10-8 win there last Friday] helped a lot.''

''We're playing well,'' Cosmo, 35, said of the Bandits. ''I don't think we've reached our peak yet. I like where our team is going. We want to build off our last game and have a good run in the second half of the season.''

They hope to be playing lacrosse well into May. The hockey season will be long gone by then. Come summer, maybe they'll get to sit down for a few hours, but we somehow doubt it. That doesn't seem to be their style.


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