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Bandits lose but get good news Dietrich injury not serious

The news wasn't as bad as it could have been for the Buffalo Bandits Saturday.

And it certainly had nothing to do with the regular season-ending 14-8 drubbing by the Rochester Knighthawks before 11,200 in Blue Cross Arena.

Goaltender Steve Dietrich, the National Lacrosse League's Most Valuable Player last season, got the results of the magnetic resonance imaging test on his injured left knee earlier Saturday and he hasn't necessarily played in his final game of the 2007 season. In Friday night's 14-10 loss to Rochester, he was carried from the HSBC Arena turf on a stretcher after collapsing when the knee buckled after a shot by Mike Accursi.

"It's nothing real, real serious and I'm probably looking at a couple of weeks," said Dietrich, who has endured previous major surgeries on both knees. "So [I'll] be questionable for next Sunday [the 2 p.m. home playoff game against Minnesota]. It's still pretty swollen but it's a lot better than we originally thought."

Dr. Sherri La Shomb, the Bandits' athletic trainer, confirmed that first-degree (the mildest) injuries of this nature normally require "one to three weeks."

"For the next couple of weeks it's anti-inflammatories and ice, and wait until we get full range of motion back," said Dietrich, the franchise career leader in victories (47) and saves (2,748). "Then I put the brace on and go try it out. I thought I'd blown out my knee again but it's just a very slight tear [of the medial collateral ligament]."

That means the goaltending duties, for the time being, will be handled by Mike Thompson, who made 21 saves in the first three quarters Saturday night before departing with his team down, 12-4. Kevin Dostie and Delby Powless each scored twice for the Bandits, who never led, surrendered six straight goals in the second quarter and twice trailed by eight.

"I was told [Dietrich] might be ready for the second playoff game, but I don't have much faith in that," said Bandits coach Darris Kilgour. "I'm planning to use Mikey as far as we go right now. That's not a bad option."

Thompson, whose NLL experience before this season consisted of eight games with the 2001 Ottawa Rebel, started the first five games of this year while Dietrich recovered from an arthroscopic knee procedure. Thompson has a 5-4 record with 324 saves and 103 goals allowed.

"It's definitely good news compared to what it could have been," said Kilgour. "But [Dietrich] is probably not going to able to practice for 2 1/2 weeks. I wish it would have never happened because we now have a big piece missing."

The Bandits activated goaltender Daniel Sams, a 20-year-old who has junior eligibility remaining with the Peterborough (Ont.) Lakers. He made his pro debut in the fourth quarter Saturday night and collected seven saves on nine shots.

"It's indescribable, that's what it felt like to get in there," said Sams, who is from St. Catharines, Ont. "I was very [nervous] until the first shot, then after that it just felt like any other game."

Because Saturday night's game had no playoff implications for either team, many regulars sat out. The Knighthawks (14-2), who enter postseason on a 12-game winning streak, had already sewn up the top seed in the league while the Bandits (10-6) are the second seed in the East and third overall.

NLL career scoring leader John Tavares, who has a slight ankle sprain, was a scratch for the Bandits, ending his streak of 133 consecutive games played. Buffalo captain Rich Kilgour, forward Cory Bomberry and midfielder Pat McCready (back injury) all rested, as did Rochester's starting goaltender Pat O'Toole and original Knighthawk Regy Thorpe, the franchise career leader in games played with 169.

Phil Wetherup was voted game MVP Saturday after making 49 saves in O'Toole's place. Shawn Evans led the Knighthawks with three goals, while Scott Evans, Steve Hoar and Shawn Williams all scored twice.

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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