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Young gun makes noise for Bandits

Young players on the Buffalo Bandits' roster are rarely seen and almost never heard.

Jimmy Purves is trying to change that.

The 21-year-old -- the youngest person on the squad -- will join his teammates when they host the Philadelphia Wings at the First Niagara Center tonight (7:30 p.m., CBS Sports, Radio 1520 AM). The Bandits traditionally haven't had many players that young on their roster over the years, but Purves has made an impact with his play and his vocal chords.

"I like the way he plays," Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour said. "He tells the other team exactly what he thinks about them, what he's going to do to them. We haven't had that out of a young guy in a while. We like the attitude he brings and hopefully he's going to be here for a while."

Purves, who comes across off the field as soft-spoken, has taken a traditional route to become a player in the National Lacrosse League. He grew up in Sarnia, Ontario, which is located at the southern edge of Lake Huron a bit north of Detroit. He started playing lacrosse at the age of four, and it's always been his favorite sport.

"I did all the minor lacrosse, Titan, Bantam, played a year of Junior B in my hometown, and then a year at Six Nations [near Brantford]," he said.

The stint at Six Nations probably got the attention of the Bandits, who have drafted many players from that team over the years. They obviously had Purves in their sights on draft day in the fall of 2010.

"I didn't expect to be in the draft at all," Purves said. "I didn't get any calls, I didn't know what was going on. I found out that draft day was coming up, so I watched it on the Internet.

"It was a thrill for me to see my name pop up on the list and see I got drafted."

Purves went in the fifth round, 47th overall, to the Bandits. That selection came with no guarantees, since picks lower than the second round often have trouble staying on an NLL roster.

Purves showed up for rookie camp, worked hard, and impressed the coaches enough to keep him around. He only played in one game for the Bandits in 2011, a home contest against Minnesota that drew 15,001.

As could be expected, he had never come close to playing in front of that many people. The previous high was "maybe 2,000. It was great walking around, having that many people screaming and cheering for you. It's definitely an experience I'll never forget."

This year, Purves's role has grown a bit. He has played in eight of the team's 12 games, and his speed serves as his greatest attribute.

"He can get up and down the floor," Kilgour said. "He's started to come into his own now. If a lefty guy [up front] got hurt, we'd have no problem playing him there. Right now we've got him coming out of the D [defensive] door and trying to do a little transition. With the Bandits' game, your best bet to make the team is to come out the back door."

Purves was singled out by head coach Darris Kilgour earlier this season as one of the few players that he trusts to play in any situation -- offense, defense or transition. But that doesn't mean Purves isn't trying to learn. There is plenty of knowledge to be gained just by walking around the locker room and talking to the team's veterans.

"There are Hall of Famers here, even on the coaching staff," Purves said. "We have a great set of veterans. They helped me out, and they're all great guys."

Purves and the Bandits come into tonight's game needing a win badly. Buffalo (4-8) is in last place in the NLL's East Division, and is tied for last in the league in victories. Since only one team in the NLL misses the playoffs and there are four games left in the season, there is virtually no time to waste.

At least Purves has a positive experience to ponder if he gets into the lineup against the Wings.

"My first goal was this year in Philadelphia [on Feb. 12]," he said. "It was a rebound off an Ian Llord shot. I'll never forget that one.

"They gave me the ball, and I think that's the first one I've ever saved."

Tonight's game marks the NLL's debut on the CBS Sports Network. It's the first professional team sport ever shown on CBSSN.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com