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NEW BANDIT CONFIDENT HE'LL BE ABLE TO SCORE MORE

Shawn Williams earned a National Lacrosse League championship ring playing for the Toronto Rock last season.

He won't have to wait long for a chance to prove the Rock made a mistake by dealing him to the Buffalo Bandits last fall.

"I had a smirk when I saw the schedule and that we opened against Toronto," said Williams, who is one of 13 new faces on the Bandits' roster. "It's going to be emotional for me on opening night but it's going to be special, too."

The Bandits open their ninth season at 8 p.m. next Saturday in Marine Midland Arena against the Rock. The two teams are at opposite ends of the pro indoor lacrosse rainbow -- Buffalo missed the playoffs with a 4-8 record last year while Toronto went 11-3, winning it all under ex-Bandits coach Les Bartley.

Williams, who played in every game in two years with the Rock, became a Bandit last September. The Bandits traded a first-round draft choice for Williams, a 25-year-old left-handed-shooting sniper with a deft scoring touch.

"I had never been traded before," Williams said. "To be honest, I don't know why I was on the trading block. I've questioned it, but I really don't know. Toronto wanted a high draft pick to try to get a goalie and things just worked out for both teams."

Williams says he was a role player with the Rock, willing to do whatever job Bartley needed done. As a Bandit, he'll be expected to be more of an offensive threat.

"Shawn Williams can score," said Bandits General Manager Kurt Silcott. "We were thrilled to get him and he'll be a force."

Williams, who is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, had 20 goals and 52 points in 24 regular-season games with the Rock. But his abilities are more accurately reflected in the numbers he's posted in Ontario Lacrosse Association play:

Last summer with the Brooklin Redmen, he scored 12 goals and 21 points in a single game against Ohsweken, setting a league standard. He also led the Major Division in scoring with 41 goals and 90 points, finishing ahead of even new Bandits teammate John Tavares, the franchise's career scoring leader.

In 1997, "Willie" led the Major Division in scoring with 55 points.

In 1994, he put up a staggering 62 goals and 129 points as a Junior A player in his home town of Scarborough.

"My role has changed from that I had in Toronto," Williams said. "My game is all about scoring and that's what I hope to do. It's a role I'm more familiar with. I'm ready to go out and prove it to the fans here."