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Bandits’ Cosmo closes in on NLL saves record

The Buffalo Bandits’ Anthony Cosmo will take an eraser to the National Lacrosse League record book in the near future.

He may do it on Saturday night against the New England Black Wolves in First Niagara Center (7:30 p.m., Radio 1520 AM). He may have to wait a week or two, depending on circumstances.

But at some point, Cosmo will have made more saves than any other goalie in the history of the NLL.

“I had heard about it earlier in the year, but I had no idea when it might happen,” Cosmo said. “It sure does mean a lot. I’ve been playing this game for a long time for a lot of great organizations who have given me a chance.”

Cosmo comes into Saturday’s game with 6,431 career saves. Looming just ahead is Bob Watson, the Hall of Famer for the Toronto Rock who finished his career with 6,471 saves. Therefore, Cosmo needs 40 saves to tie the record.

That’s certainly within range Saturday. Cosmo had 41 saves in the Bandits’ opener against Calgary, and 40 a week later in Colorado.

Cosmo broke into the league in 2001 as a member of the Toronto Rock. He served as the backup to − you guessed it − Watson.

“He taught me a lot,” Cosmo said. “He taught me how to be a good goalie, a good player and a good teammate. He was someone I looked up to and respected. Thanks to him, I became a better goalie.

“It’s a passing of the torch to me, and someday I’ll be passing the torch to someone else. It’s the cycle of the sport. But it’s nice to be put in the same category as some of the other goalies, like” Steve Dietrich, “Bob, and Dallas Eliuk.”

Cosmo was a little foggy on the details of the first save of his career, but he can still recite what he was thinking.

“I remember it hitting me, and thinking it was good to get it out of the way and to move on,” the goalie said.

He believes that the first save came against either Columbus or Buffalo, and the first win came against the other team. Records from that season are sketchy, but research indicates that his first start and first win came on March 16, 2001, at Columbus. Therefore, Cosmo probably did some spot duty for Toronto in making his debut in a Jan. 27 road game against the Bandits − the only time the teams played that season.

The funny part is that Cosmo drove to Buffalo before he turned pro to see his first-ever professional indoor lacrosse game as a fan.

“Buffalo has a close-up spot in my heart because of that,” he said. “They were the Maple Leafs of lacrosse for us. They were the professionals then, because Canada didn’t have any teams then.”

The first Canadian team in league history was the Ontario Raiders, who started play in 1998.

Cosmo would have been even closer to the mark had he and his team had a better game against the Black Wolves last week. The defensive unit gave up seven goals in less than 17 minutes in the middle of the game to allow the Black Wolves to take charge.

“The wheels kind of fell off,” Cosmo said. “The ball wasn’t bouncing for us in the first half, and in the third quarter we got frustrated. We got away from the game we want to play, where guys try to do it on their own.

“We have the opportunity to avenge that now. We fell apart, but we want to show it won’t happen again.”

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Saturday’s game will salute the four championship teams in Bandits’ history, from 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2008. A highlight will be an alumni game at halftime. Some of the former Bandits who will suit up are Chris White, Randy Mearns, Mike Thompson, Phil Sanderson, Roger Vyse, Glen Lay, Stu Aird, Tom Emmick and Bill Gerrie.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com