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Derek Laub knows Buffalo sports fans love a winner, and he's eager to please.

"I've heard all the kidding, and I know it's good-natured," said the Bandits' second-year forward. "All the time I hear about how they won two straight championships before I got with the team. . . . The only thing I want to do now is win a championship. All the other goals are secondary at this point."

Laub and his teammates will open the Major Indoor Lacrosse League playoffs at 8 p.m. Saturday when they host the defending champion Philadelphia Wings in a semifinal at Memorial Auditorium. Plenty of tickets remain in all price ranges and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Aud ticket office.

Laub, a Buffalo native and a Nichols School graduate, was busy breaking scoring records at Colgate University when the Bandits were winning the North American Cup -- the MILL's championship trophy -- in 1992 and 1993. At that point, box lacrosse was something Laub only had heard about.

But in just two seasons of indoor lacrosse, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder has made a big impression on his teammates, who recently voted him winner of the club's seventh man award. That honor is presented to the player who contributes most on the field and in the community.

In the community, Laub serves as a volunteer assistant with the Canisius College lacrosse team when he's not working as a mortgage analyst.

On the field, he has gained the reputation for being one of the team's hardest workers. The work is paying off.

"It's taken Derek a little time to learn the little things about the indoor game, but there's no doubt about it, I see him being a star in this league in the very near future," Bandits coach Les Bartley said. "Last year he learned how to play defense in this league, and now he's learning how to put the offense and defense together.

"He's probably the best-conditioned athlete on the team and he's always shown the willingness to learn and work hard. You can't ask a guy for much more than that."

Laub admits confidence was a problem during his rookie season.

"When I was at Colgate I played in front of 200 or 300 people, maybe that many," Laub said. "It was pretty overwhelming to play in front of 16,000, and it was even tougher to do it on the road in front of a big, hostile crowd, like in Philadelphia. This year I'm more used to it. Plus I'm learning what it takes to play this game."

At Colgate, Laub was an attackman and the go-to guy almost from Day One. He is the Red Raiders' leading career scorer with 200 points, on 120 goals and 80 assists.

As with all good field lacrosse attackmen, scoring was Laub's preoccupation then. One year later he was learning how to play the MILL's two-way game and wondering, from game to game, whether he even would dress for the Bandits.

"It was a lot like my freshman year in college," Laub said. "It was tough when you didn't know on Thursday whether you'd be playing on Saturday. But I think I really got comfortable toward the end of the year and it's carried over."

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