Two members of the Buffalo Bandits' organization know all about the two latest members of the National Lacrosse League's Hall of Fame.
Jim Veltman and Dallas Eliuk were picked for the Hall in their first year of eligibility. Veltman played with current Bandits General Manager/coach Darris Kilgour and forward John Tavares when they won championships together in 1992, 1993 and 1996.
"You can look at the numbers of loose balls and figure out he was a pretty good player," Kilgour said about Veltman, the league's all-time leader in loose balls. "But at the same time, none of the stats will tell you what a great leader he was, and how much he picked up guys in the locker room. I had a reputation for being a good leader, but when you are in the room with Jim Veltman, you see how hard he works -- and loose balls are nothing but hard work. To be the best says you are the hardest worker. You can't take a look at a guy like that and take a night off."
Veltman won five other league championships while playing for Toronto, the most in league history. Tavares calls Veltman "my all-time favorite player to play with." He added that the selection was a tribute to Veltman's blue-collar playing style.
"If Jim didn't come out of the game bleeding from the knees or elbows, you're questioning his game," Tavares said. "Every game, he had blood everywhere. He always gave 100 percent. He knew how to make people around him better, and he knew what to say at the right times."
Eliuk had some great battles with the Bandits over the years, playing 15 seasons with the Philadelphia Wings before moving to Portland for three final seasons. He's the all-time league leader in saves and won four championships.
"When he retired last year he was still was one of the top goalies in the league," Kilgour said. "That's unbelievable. He's a reaction goalie. He's not a big guy. He doesn't take up a lot of the net. He reads the shooters, and he jumps. For a guy to have good reactions like that at 40 is unbelievable. To play at a high level for as long as he did was unbelievable."
The ceremony will be held on March 7 as part of the league's All-Star Weekend in Denver.
If the Bandits didn't look good enough in their victory over the Rock on Saturday night, more help is on the way. Veteran Pat McCready, who has not played in a game this season, is about ready to return to action. McCready has been out with a shoulder injury.
"He has one more practice Tuesday night, and hopefully he'll be on the roster and ready to be in the lineup next Friday," coach Darris Kilgour said.
McCready has been on the roster since 2002.
The Bandits debuted their new "third jersey" on Saturday night. They are mostly orange with a black stripe around the middle. In the front, the stripe has a bandit's eyes and nose, while the back has white numbers and letters. . . . Buffalo's scratches were Joe Smith, Brandon Swamp, Kyle Schmelzle and Cody Jacobs. Delby Powless is sitting out the second game of his two-game suspension from the team for violating team rules. . . . Entering the game, the Bandits had been outshot, 318-298, this season. However, they had outscored their opponents, 80-53.