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Tavares ties NLL record Bomberry nets five as Bandits prevail

John Tavares tied the National Lacrosse League's career scoring mark Saturday night.

But Cory Bomberry, his Buffalo Bandits teammate, deserves to be remembered as more than just a footnote to history.

Tavares had a goal and five assists in a 14-9 victory over the Minnesota Swarm before 12,819 at HSBC Arena, giving him 531 goals, 560 assists and 1,091 points in 169 games during his 15-year pro indoor lacrosse career. That ties him with Colorado Mammoth coach Gary Gait, who tallied 1,091 points in 174 games before retiring after last season.

Bomberry netted five goals, all in the first 2 1/2 quarters, and an assist, and Dan Teat had his second consecutive strong game with two goals and four assists.

The win boosted the Bandits (4-2) into first place in the topsy-turvy East Division after they had begun the day tied for third. Both the Rochester Knighthawks (5-3) and Philadelphia Wings (4-3) lost home games Saturday night.

"I know it sounds like a cliche but the most important thing is that we won the game, because we really need that win," said Tavares, who went scoreless for the final 21 minutes, 58 seconds. "I figure that by the end of the year I'll be able to get one more."

Tavares got his sixth point of the night with 6:58 left in the third quarter when he fed Bomberry, who cranked about a 35-foot laser beam past Swarm goalie Nick Patterson to give Buffalo a 10-6 lead. Three Tavares assists came on scores by Bomberry.

"I just kept giving him the ball and letting him do the work," Tavares said. "I couldn't score, that's for sure. Every time I saw him I just gave the ball because he was on fire. He had the hot hand."

With a Kids Night crowd cheering wildly every time Tavares got near the ball in the final minutes, there were several good chances for the record to fall.

Tavares and Rich Kilgour, the last two active original Bandits, twice worked fine passing plays in the fourth quarter. But each had a great scoring chance thwarted by Patterson, who had won his first four decisions and came into the game with the league's top goals-against average (8.89) and save percentage (82.8).

"I was definitely pressing in the fourth quarter and that's why it didn't happen," Tavares said. "If I was to go through every game and press the issue, I wouldn't get very many points because you put a lot of pressure on yourself and a lot of mental pressure on your teammates. I had two glorious chances and an outside shot that hit the post."

While the record was on everyone's mind, the Swarm (4-4) scored the first three goals of the fourth quarter -- by Jamie Taylor, Chad Culp and Ryan Ward -- to creep within 12-9 with six minutes left. But Teat put the Bandits back on easy street by scoring with 3:24 left, then Mark Steenhuis, who had two goals and an assist, tallied short-handed with 43.7 seconds remaining.

"We were trying to get pretty on offense, obviously trying to get Johnny that point," said Bandits goaltender Steve Dietrich, who made 45 saves on his 36th birthday. "Everybody wants be in on a milestone goal. After he'd tied it, even I wanted to try to throw a long bomb to him for the record.

"It was on everybody's mind. Hopefully, when we play next it will happen early so we don't have to worry about it."

After Saturday's All-Star Game in Toronto, the Bandits host the Swarm again March 4.


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