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Edwards' career with Bandits moves out of neutral

It's a faceoff that Tim Edwards will remember for the rest of his life.

The Buffalo Bandit lined up against ex-teammate Jay Thorimbert last Friday night in the KeyBank Center to take a draw in a game against the New England Black Wolves.

"I didn't want to say anything," Edwards said about the moment. "It was all business."

The referee blew his whistle, the faceoff took place - and Edwards' wait was over. After more than a year of being on the practice squad without playing in a game, Edwards was an NLL veteran.

"That kid's been great," Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour said. "He waited for his chance, and he finally got it."

Edwards played in the rest of that game, as well as Sunday's game at New England. We'll have to see if he's still in the lineup on Saturday night when the Toronto Rock come to the KeyBank Center (7:30 p.m., Radio 1520 AM).

The wait for that faceoff actually started in the fall of 2015. Edwards had completed a very successful career at Canisius College, and he was drafted by the Bandits in the fourth round.

Edwards had some physical ability, but he was raw by indoor lacrosse standards. The rookie needed time to practice.

"I remember going to a few Bandits' games when I was in college," he said. "The atmosphere was unbelievable, and I wanted to try to do it. After my junior year in college, I tried box lacrosse for the first time in St. Catharines. My buddies introduced me to it."

The Central New York native quickly noticed the biggest difference the indoor and outdoor games.

"Skills are so important in the box game," he said. "You don't have to pick a corner playing field lacrosse."

Edwards made his biggest initial impression not on the field, but in the workout room. He quickly established a reputation as one of the best-conditioned athletes on the Bandits.

"He ran 21 miles per hour on a treadmill," Kilgour said. "He got the nickname, 'Timmy Treadmill,' that way. There aren't many guys that can do that. He's a great athlete."

Edwards didn't play at all in 2016, and continued to wait for an opportunity this year. Then he heard the words he'd been waiting to hear.

"Just before the first game against New England, the coaches told me I'd play one or two games over the weekend," Edwards said. "Then at the shootaround, Coach Cordingley said, 'You are in tonight. Be ready to take faceoffs.'

"I was already pretty prepared. I was prepared to play Friday, and once I knew for sure, I was excited."

Edwards' parents headed for Buffalo to see the game. He lined up for that faceoff against Thorimbert, who had taught the young player a lot about indoor lacrosse in 2016. It was a tough assignment, but Edwards did reasonably well against one of the best faceoff specialists in the league.

"He's a good buddy," Edwards said about Thorimbert. "In the summer, we played for Six Nations and were traded to Brampton together. I talked to him a little bit after the game."

After the contest, Edwards and the Bandits headed to Connecticut for the Sunday rematch with the Black Wolves. Not only did Buffalo win that game to end a losing streak, but Edwards picked up his first goal - although it took a while for him to get to celebrate it.

"I was playing defense, and the ball got deflected off a pass," he said. "I scooped it up and went by the last guy. I threw a fake and shot, but the ball didn't go in cleanly. I was surprised it went in. I knew my foot went into the crease, so I knew a challenge was coming. My feeling was that the goal was going to be called back, but I guess they didn't have the evidence to overturn it."

Edwards has saved a few special lacrosse balls over the years, such as his first collegiate goal. The ball from his first NLL goal will join them.

Wednesday's trade of Mitch Wilde to Calgary might make it a little easier for Edwards to get more playing time for the rest of the season. The rookie's debut weekend was a big step forward toward that goal.

"It's one of those things where you work hard but don't see results right away," Kilgour said. "It's like me trying to lose weight at the age of 50. Tim kept working and working. He got his chance and he capitalized on it."

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