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Kilgour welcomes expanded game roster

The player introductions before Saturday's game in HSBC Arena took a little longer than they have in past years.

That's because there were more players who dressed for the game.

The National Lacrosse League changed the number of players who can participate in a game this year. In the past, teams could dress 18 out of the 23 players on the roster on a given night. This year, it's up to 20 -- almost always 18 runners and two goaltenders.

"It helps us," Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said. "We like to pressure, which certainly gets tiring if you don't do it right. With the extra bodies, we've been really fresh at the end of both [of our earlier] games. I'm real happy with that."

The biggest change of the new rule was apparent right at the start of the game.

"It gives Brandon Francis a spot in every game," Kilgour said. "He's doing a great job on faceoffs this year. He's doing a great job in the role we've asked him to do. He's guaranteed to play every game now."

Kilgour had plenty of choices this week, as he reported the entire team was healthy. He scratched Ian Llord, Darryl Gibson and Travis Irving, the same three players who sat out the win last week in Philadelphia.

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The Bandits came away impressed by their first look at the Rock this season, particularly on offense. Five different Toronto players had at least three points.

"They're very talented," defender Scott Self of the Bandits said. "There's been a lot of talk about Boston and the talent they have. But as a group, Toronto runs a very good system. They are very unselfish. On a given night, any one of six or seven guys can beat you."

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It's rather unusual for two indoor lacrosse teams to play each other in consecutive weeks. After all, the league only has a 16-game schedule. It would be almost like the Buffalo Bills playing the Miami Dolphins in back-to-back games. Yet, the Bandits and Rock are doing exactly that, as the teams will meet again next Saturday in Toronto.

That doesn't give teams much time to forget incidents that happen along the way, so tempers can be a little shorter.

"There's a time and place for everything," Mark Steenhuis of the Bandits said. "If something does happen where there's a dirty play this week and you don't get him back this week, you have time to get him back next week.

"Most of the time, with this team, if something does happen you are going to see the repercussions pretty quick. The guys on the bench or guys on the floor aren't going to wait too long."

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Kilgour said he's not expecting Sean Greenhalgh and Kevin Dostie to be a part of the Bandits in 2011. Both are on the protected list.

"They are out for the year," the Bandits coach said. "Greenhalgh has a new job. He has to put some time in before he can ask for time off. Dostie has a bad knee, so he wants to take a year off and give it time to heal. Kevin's been battling that for two years, and that does wear on you after a while. We're giving him some time off and maybe he'll be back next year.

Kilgour also has the title of general manager of the team back this season. He had stepped down from that position in 2010, although no successor was named and little seemed to change in the organization.

"I didn't even know," he said. "It doesn't really matter. I think we all work together really well here. It doesn't matter what the title is. Everyone has a meaningful opinion."

e-mail: bbailey@buffnews.com