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BANDITS GUARANTEE HOME PLAYOFF GAME WITH VICTORY

No matter what happens the rest of this season, the Buffalo Bandits have seen the last of Cow Town.

Saturday night's 14-9 win over the defending National Lacrosse League champion Calgary Roughnecks before 10,183 means that if the teams meet in a rematch for the crown on May 14 it will occur at HSBC Arena. Last season, the Bandits lost a 14-11 decision in the Pengrowth Saddledome in the title game.

The victory over the Roughnecks (9-6) also assures the Bandits (10-5) will host the Rochester Knighthawks (9-6) at 8 p.m. on April 23 in a first-round playoff game. The winner will travel to Toronto to meet the East Division champion Rock (11-3) in the semifinals on April 29.

But before the playoffs begin, there is one final order of business -- Saturday's 7:30 p.m. regular-season finale at HSBC Arena against the San Jose Stealth (4-11).

The Bandits, who had lost their last two games here, rallied from a 5-1 second-quarter deficit and dominated the second half.

Mark Steenhuis, who finished with three goals, gave Buffalo its first lead at 8-7 with 5:32 remaining in the third period. A.J. Shannon, another three-goal scorer, made it a two-goal advantage 3 1/2 minutes later and the Bandits were on their way.

After Kyle Goundrey got Calgary within 9-8, John Tavares, Aime Caines, Shannon and Pat McCready all scored within a span of 3:25 in the fourth quarter and the Bandits were cruising at 13-8. In the process they chased Calgary goaltender Curtis Palidwor, the Most Valuable Player of last year's championship game.

At the other end, Bandits goaltender Steve Dietrich was sharp with 43 saves.

Jason Crosbie and John Harasym both added two goals for the Bandits. Ted Dowling and Lewis Ratcliff had two goals apiece for Calgary.

The Bandits played without defenseman and captain Rich Kilgour (heel) and rookie Delby Powless (hamstring).

Tavares and Toronto Rock goaltender Bob Watson shared the league's award for player of the month in March. Tavares, who also won the award for January, had 14 goals, 32 points and 37 loose balls in leading the Bandits to a 3-2 record in March. . . . The league will hold a news conference in the Air Canada Centre prior to this afternoon's game between the Rock and Philadelphia Wings to announce that Toronto will host the next NLL All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006. The game, held in Calgary last February and in Denver in 2003, hasn't been played in the East since the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. hosted in 2001. . . . The Rock will host the East Division final on Friday, April 29 against the winner of the first-round matchup between the Bandits and Knighthawks.

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