Once upon a time there were three lacrosse-playing brothers who excelled at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, then went on to stardom with the hometown Buffalo Bandits.
They played together for almost five years and helped win a championship to close Memorial Auditorium in 1996. In fact, the Bandits' record book might as well include a chapter called "The Kilgour Files."
But feel-good stories don't last forever, especially in pro sports. When the Bandits (4-1) host the Washington Power (4-2) in a key National Lacrosse League game at 8 tonight in HSBC Arena, they'll be out-Kilgoured, two to one.
"Never in a million years did I expect to be the last one," said 32-year-old Rich Kilgour, one of two remaining original Bandits (John Tavares is the other). "I'd have never believed it 10 years ago. It's hard to believe now."
When big brother looks at the visiting bench tonight he'll see middle sibling Darris, who's 30, coaching a group of talented and hungry foes that includes his youngest brother Travis, 27.
The Kilgours account for three of the 10-year-old Buffalo franchise's top six career scorers. All told, they've won seven championship rings as Bandits.
"Being a visiting player was tough the first time I came to Buffalo," said Darris Kilgour, who spent nearly eight years with the Bandits before being traded to Rochester, then finishing his playing career with Albany last year.
An arthritic left hip cut short his playing career, which included two All-Star seasons in Buffalo. He retired as the sixth-leading scorer in league history, tallying 144 goals and 312 points in 76 career games.
In his first season as head coach, he's taken a team that finished 6-6 and out of the playoffs last year and turned it into a squad that has already swept a pair from two-time defending champion Toronto. His team, built around the super talents of 11-year veterans Gary and Paul Gait, has taken on some of the coach's nastiness this season.
"I liked to play with animosity toward my opponent," Darris said. "Honestly, it was quite tough to psyche myself to play against Buffalo the first time. As a coach I think it will be easier for me because I'll let my players take care of that aspect."
And that includes Travis Kilgour, who joined his older brothers in Buffalo in 1995. He was released by the Bandits last month and signed by the Power.
"With the Bandits, I never knew if I was going to be in the lineup, even if I played well," Travis said. "With Darris, I know that if I produce I'll play. But I have nothing but good things to say about the Bandits. They treated me great."
Travis' departure had a lot more to do with the Bandits' style of play than the quality of his contributions. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Travis is the first to admit he's no blazer. When Ted Sawicki took over as Buffalo's head coach last year, he built his team on speed.
"If we weren't going to use Travis in a full capacity, I had promised him that by a certain date we would release him, even if we couldn't get anything for him," Sawicki said. "It doesn't mean Travis is not a good player but the Bandits just did not have a role for him. Take nothing away from his ability level. . . . I wish him the best, we parted on good terms."
Because Rich and Darris are right-handed shooters, they didn't match up very often when they met. Travis shoots from the left.
"It will be weird for me because Trav's the one I've never played against before," Rich said. "We'll probably be seeing a lot of each other. Hopefully Darris won't send Trav after me. But once that whistle blows, it's just another team. You just do what you've gotta do."
"Travis will do his job and Rich will do his," Darris said. "Rich scored the winning goal against us the first time (a 20-19 Buffalo victory on opening night). We know we can't afford to give him a bunch of opportunities."
Said Travis: "I'm certainly not going to try to kill him (Rich) or anything like that, but if he gets in my way I'll have to go through him. The thing I'll be trying to focus on is that this will be for first place."
BANDITS VS. POWER
8 tonight at HSBC Arena TV: None Radio: None
Season Series: Buffalo, 1-0
Who's hot: Shawn Williams leads the NLL in goals per game (4.4)
Power play: 68.9 percent ranks first
Penalty killing: 37.2 percent ranks eighth
Fast fact: Three of the league's top eight scorers are Bandits
Who's hot: The Gaits combined for 13 points in the last game, a 16-13 win at Toronto
Power play: 47.8 percent ranks third
Penalty killing: 54.4 percent ranks fifth
Injuries: Kip Fulks (surgery for torn chest muscle) may return tonight
Fast fact: Best faceoff team in the league, having won 138 of 228 draws (60.5 percent)