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Around & About / News and notes

Locals do well on Lake Erie

Score one for home lake advantage.

The three-day Bass Fishing EverStart Series Tournament began Thursday on Lake Erie and the top three slots are being held by competitors who live within close driving distance of Lake Erie.

Brad Brodnicki of Amherst and Simon Frost of St. Catharines, Ont., share the lead with a total-catch weight of 22 pounds, 5 ounces. Gaspare Costabile of Niagara Falls, Ont., is in third after a one-day catch haul totaling 22-02. Lancaster's Lawrence Mazur stands sixth (20-04).

The tournament features as many as 300 pros and co-anglers competing for top awards of up to $35,000 plus a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard for the pro and a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard plus $5,000 for the co-angler.

The action resumes at 6:30 a.m. today with weigh-ins slated for 2:30 p.m. at the NFTA Small Boat Harbor.

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Sabres land 12 national games

The NHL has announced its national television schedule and the Buffalo Sabres are set for 10 games on Versus and two on NBC. The start times for three of the Versus games have been altered to accommodate the television broadcast.

Buffalo's NBC appearances will be Feb. 19 at 12:30 against Pittsburgh from HSBC Arena and April 7 at Boston in a 3 p.m. start that will mark the regular-season finale.

Home games Oct. 25 against Tampa Bay and Feb. 1 against the New York Rangers have been moved from 7 p.m. to 7:30 for Versus, and the March 5 game at Winnipeg has been shifted from an 8:30 Eastern start to 8. Buffalo's other Versus games are Nov. 2 against Philadelphia, Nov. 14 against Montreal, Nov. 16 against New Jersey, Dec. 7 against Philadelphia, Jan. 18 at Chicago, Feb. 8 against Boston and March 14 against Colorado.

Versus' Wednesday games will be national exclusive game of the week telecasts that won't be on MSG. The Sabres are on seven of those, two more than any other team. According to the Sabres, their 12 nationally televised games tie for second most in the league behind Boston and Philadelphia, which have 13 games each.

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Bandits bring back Kelusky

The Buffalo Bandits have signed forward Tracey Kelusky to a two-year contract, pending National Lacrosse League approval, and forward Jimmy Purves to a one-year contract, Director of Lacrosse Operations Scott Loffler announced Thursday in a press release.

"I'm pumped to be back in Buffalo," Kelusky said in the release. "There's nothing better than 'Banditland.' "

Kelusky was acquired by the Bandits last year from Calgary for a first-round selection in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft. An 11-year veteran from Peterborough, Ont., Kelusky ranks 12th in league history with 738 career points and 10th in goals with 345.

Purves played one game for the Bandits in 2011, making his NLL debut against the Minnesota Swarm on Feb. 4.

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Nadal survives marathon match

Rafael Nadal wanted to play a lot of tennis at the Western & Southern Open, though maybe not all in one day.

Nadal survived a three-set, three-tiebreaker match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (9) victory that kept him on court for 3 hours, 38 minutes. Then, he played a doubles match that went an hour and 10 minutes, followed by interviews.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer joined Nadal in the quarterfinals, as the top three players in the men's bracket moved on.

Djokovic beat qualifier Radek Stepanek, 6-3, 6-3, in a ragged match, improving to 31-0 on hard courts this year and 55-1 overall. Federer knocked off James Blake, 6-4, 6-1.

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MAC tournament changing

The chances of a team coming out of nowhere to win the Mid-American Conference men's basketball tournament, as Ohio did two years ago, have dropped precipitously due to a format change announced Thursday.

The top two seeds regardless of division during the regular season advance straight to the semifinals. The third- and fourth-place seeds go to the quarterfinals, while teams outside the top four would have to win five games in six days in order to claim the conference's bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The women will follow the same format except their first-round games will be Saturday, while the men would begin Monday.

From News Staff and wire service reports