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Bandits end jinx in Rochester

The Buffalo Bandits finally wrote a happy ending to what had become a very stale script.

Kim Squire scored 3 minutes, 41 seconds into overtime Saturday night to give the Bandits a long-awaited 14-13 National Lacrosse League victory over the Rochester Knighthawks before 10,209 at the Blue Cross Arena in the Rochester War Memorial.

The Bandits (5-4) had dropped 10 of their last 11 games in this building and their last four defeats against the Knighthawks (7-5) here had come in sudden death.

On Buffalo's fifth possession of the extra session, John Tavares ran a pick play against two Knighthawks defenders, then rolled toward the net. Dan Teat did a great job looking toward Tavares and taking Rochester defenseman Steve Toll out of the play with that deke. Teat instead passed to Squire on the outside and Squire waltzed in alone on the Knighthawks' Pat O'Toole and fired a low shot under his goalie stick.

"I think they must have thought, 'This dude, he's washed up,' " said Squire, whose goal gave Buffalo its only lead of the night. "They kept backing up and backing up, giving me a lot of room. All of a sudden there was all this room so I moved in, had the shot and took advantage of it."

Earlier in the Bandits' final possession, Squire had hit the goal post with a behind-the-back shot and Tavares recovered the ensuing loose ball to start the winning sequence.

"I think when [Squire] first got the ball he was surprised and wanted to shoot it quick," said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. "And then he was like, 'Oh my God, it's like the parting of the Red Sea.' He'd had a couple of other good chances to pot one earlier so it was great to see him take advantage in that spot."

The Bandits, who snapped a two-game losing streak and avoided slipping under the .500 mark after nine games for the first time since 1999, scored the final two goals of regulation. A.J. Shannon, who didn't dress for the last game (a 10-8 home loss to Toronto), bounced a shot past O'Toole with 2:57 left to tie it at 13-13. That came just 1:29 after Delby Powless' long missile was too hot for O'Toole to handle.

"It wasn't just the winning but the fact we believed and never gave up," said Tavares, who snapped out of his personal two-game funk (just four total points) with two important second-half goals to go along with five assists. "We were down all game but it was just so good to see confidence. And we were able to pull it off."

The Bandits trailed by as much as 10-6 midway through the third quarter after Shawn Williams, John Grant Jr. and Steve Toll netted three in a row for the Knighthawks during a 3 1/2 -minute stretch.

But the Buffalo offense, which had been held to single-digit scoring the last two games, accounted for the next four goals -- off the sticks of Cory Bomberry, Tavares and Teat twice -- to tie it at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter. Rochester got three of the next four to take a 13-11 advantage.

"I knew that if we could just hold them off for a while, the offense was going to do it," said Bandits goalie Steve Dietrich, who made 38 saves, as did O'Toole.

The Bandits, who avoided a fall into the East Division basement, face an ultra-important weekend beginning Friday at Minnesota (6-5) and Saturday at HSBC Arena for a rematch with the Knighthawks. The winner of each game will take the season series and hold the tie-breaker for playoff seeding.

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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