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BANDITS REBOUND TO BELT REBEL

Sometimes a week can mean the difference between sour and sweet.

It sure did for D'Arcy Sweet, who helped fuel the Buffalo Bandits' 25-14 National Lacrosse League demolition of the Ottawa Rebel before 8,111 at HSBC Arena Saturday night.

"I was really hurting and I felt I had something to prove," said Sweet, a second-year forward who finished with a career-best seven points on a goal and six assists, to go along with nine loose balls.

"I don't think they (his teammates) realized how hard I took (last week). It took a couple days to let it go, but by game time, I was ready to tackle the task at hand and let bygones be bygones."

Sweet took a questionable shot late in regulation a week earlier against Toronto that allowed the Rock to regain possession and score to force overtime. The Rock then handed the Bandits their first loss. Sweet rebounded with his best game as a Bandit, thanks in part to his friends in black and orange.

"I razzed him about it all week, made every comment I could about hitting the empty net," said John Tavares, who led the Buffalo scoring parade with four goals and eight assists. "He was down, but he came out at practice (last Tuesday) and worked extra hard. I told him he was going to have his best game.

"He's been playing very well all year and we can't just look at that one shot he missed. Big deal, that could happen to anybody. I don't care that he missed the damn thing, I still think he made the right decision to shoot it. I think he wanted to show he's a big part of this team and say, 'Hey, I'm not going to let you guys down.' But we already know it. He didn't have to prove anything to us."

The Bandits (4-1) proved there would be absolutely no drama in this one. They dropped a bomb early, scoring 11 goals in the first quarter en route to their fourth 20-plus scoring outburst of the season.

Unlike last week's 14-13 double-overtime loss to the two-time defending champions, the Bandits imposed their will on the Rebel (0-8) right from the start.

"They had nothing to lose and with our experience, we knew we couldn't give them an inch," Tavares said. "We didn't give them a chance to think they were ever in the game."

The Bandits chased Ottawa's starting goaltender, Mike Thompson, with seven goals in the first 10 minutes and never let the Rebel come closer than four goals after jumping to an 11-5 advantage through one quarter.

"We wanted to establish the pace right away, to let them know we were going to control this game all the way," said captain Mike Accursi, who had three goals and two assists. "We made the mistake last week of letting Toronto take the game to us. We told ourselves to do what we do best, and we did."

"They were going to have to run with us to beat us and it didn't happen," said Buffalo's Pat Maddalena, who scored four times.

Shawn Williams had four goals and six helpers and goaltender Phil Wetherup's stick was a double-edged weapon. He made 41 saves and also dished out three assists.

"There was a lot more fire out there from us tonight," Williams said. "We came out and played our game to dominate. We didn't want to let them get a sniff. Even though they were winless, you never take anything for granted."

Kris Bryde and Jake Lawson both scored four times for Ottawa, which is 0-24 in its four-year franchise history on the road.

"We had them worried at times," said Rebel coach Mark Vitarelli. "They're a good team and I'm still building with some of the good things I'll take from this (dressing) room. . . . I think our defense is not physical enough. They took a lot of liberties against us."

Ottawa got as close as 13-9 late in the first half because the Bandits played a very poor second quarter, when they were outshot, 19-10.

"As coaches, we didn't have to say much of anything at halftime," Bandits coach Ted Sawicki said. "Richie Kilgour gave a pretty good pep talk all by himself. And it worked because we picked it back up in the third quarter. You can't let them coach themselves but that's what veterans will do."

Chris Driscoll scored his first two goals of the season for the Bandits. He suffered a season-shortening shoulder injury last Feb. 26 against Toronto, then sprained his ankle just before the regular season began.

There was no sign of a bad shoulder on the 40-foot rope Driscoll beat Ottawa goalie Derek Collins with late in the second quarter.

"The last few games have been pretty rough trying to get back into the loop," Driscoll said. "My shoulder's good now. It's just a question of getting my leg back in playing shape. I think it's coming along."

The competition figures to get much tougher next Saturday when the Washington Power (5-2) helps the Bandits wrap up their five-game homestand.

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