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Bandits try for three over Toronto

The Toronto Rock knows all about the Buffalo Bandits at this point. It's beating them that's the problem.

The 6-1 Bandits have played the Rock two times already this season, and they've beaten the Rock twice. The squads will go back at it tonight at the Air Canada Centre in the final regular-season game of the series (7 p.m., Radio 1520; game can be seen on nll.com).

The Bandits are coming off a 25-10 thrashing of the Rock last week in HSBC Arena. Some coaches might have taken the video tape and started a bonfire in their office after that sort of game, but Jamie Batley of the 2-4 Rock is not one of them.

"We don't need to throw away the tape," the Toronto coach said. "There are a lot of things to look at it. You don't get 25 goals against without doing something wrong. We've analyzed the tape and tried to fix those problems like we do every week."

Batley had a good view at what happened Saturday night and was obviously impressed.

"They played well off the ball," he said. "[Mark] Steenhuis found the open man a lot. You don't have to look very long to find one. Those guys never stop moving. They got left wide open, and we didn't give our goaltenders the opportunity to make many saves.

"They scored on power shots from inside the restraining line, and from on top of the goalie when no one was checking them. You have to give their offense credit for the way they performed."

Steenhuis was named the league's overall and offensive player of the week for his performance against the Rock, with a league-record 13 assists and 17 points.

"He's taken the big step lately of making the players around him better," Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said. "We've been trying to get him to do that for a couple of years. When we're moving and passing the ball, we're very hard team to stop."

We'll have to see tonight how much has changed in a week. The Bandits may have a veteran player back in the lineup tonight. Pat McCready is ready to play after missing the entire season so far because of a shoulder injury. Kilgour said he will decide tonight about inserting him into the lineup.

McCready ought to help whenever he's ready to play. The veteran is one of the NLL's best at collecting loose balls.

As for Toronto, Batley -- who took over the Rock's coaching job earlier this season -- is anxious to know how his team handles adversity.

"Certainly you can judge some of the players on how they rebound," he said. "We have a lot of character players in the dressing room, and they were upset with the outcome of the game. We played all right until the third quarter, and then the wheels fell off and Buffalo pounded it to us. . . . I think they'll rise to the occasion."

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Bandits forwards John Tavares and Roger Vyse were named Thursday as reserves in the NLL's All-Star Game in Denver on March 7.

e-mail: bbailey@buffnews.com

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