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Bandits notch first win Tavares leads Buffalo past Wings

There will be no repeat of the Buffalo Bandits' 0-4 start to last season in 2011.

The Bandits took care of that by earning their first win of the year, a 9-6 victory over the Philadelphia Wings at the Wells Fargo Center. Buffalo had lost its season opener last week in Calgary.

The Bandits dropped their first four games last year and were 2-6 at the season's midway point. They needed a 6-2 second half in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Veteran John Tavares, the leading scorer in the history of the National Lacrosse League, had a hat trick and three assists for six points to lead the way for Buffalo.

One of the newest faces on the Bandits' roster played a role in giving his new team the lead at the half. Chad Culp had Buffalo's first two goals of the game, both in the first quarter.

Culp was picked up as a free agent in the offseason. He played with Colorado last season, and has been with Minnesota, Arizona and New York. Culp did not play in Buffalo's loss in Calgary last week, so this was his Bandits' debut.

Brenden Thenhaus added his first goal in a Buffalo uniform in the opening 15 minutes. Philadelphia also scored three times -- including two by Drew Westervelt -- to leave the game tied after a quarter.

But the Bandits had the only goal of the second period. Tavares had his first of the season at 6:27.

Buffalo continued to throw a defensive blanket over the Wings during the third period. The Bandits had the only goal of the period, as Tavares scored at 10:38 to make 5-3.

Buffalo had a chance to pad its lead late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Max Seibald of Philadelphia was called for a five-minute major penalty. He checked Jon Harasym from behind into the boards.

Frank Resetarits converted on the power play early in the fourth quarter. Athan Iannucci finally got Philadelphia back on the board a short time later with the Wings' first goal in more than 33 minutes.

That might have made the Bandits nervous, but their veterans responded quickly. Tavares and Tracey Kelusky both scored to get Buffalo up, 8-4.

Alex Turner and Iannucci narrowed the Bandits' lead to 8-6 with less three minutes to go, but Buffalo held on from there. Mark Steenhuis had an empty-netter to complete the scoring.

Mike Thompson was the winning goaltender for the Bandits, making some good stops,while Brandon Miller took the loss in goal for the Wings. Buffalo had a 50-45 edge in shots.

The Bandits will play their home opener next Saturday night in HSBC Arena against the Toronto Rock. Game time is 7:30 p.m.