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Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Wings

6:57 p.m. -- Yes, the Sabres are done for the year. Soon the ice will be melted. But the Bandits continue their season, starting tonight with a game against the Philadelphia Wings.

There's plenty to talk about here. Tracey Kelusky is again out of the lineup. Travis Irving decided not to appeal his one-game suspension, so he's out tonight. Mike McNamara apparently is up from the practice squad. We'll have to see how the roster looks tonight and in the future with those developments.

Anthony Cosmo will be back in goal. He has obviously struggled at times, although in fairness he hasn't had much help at times. Coach Darris Kilgour has been alternating goalies lately, and Mike Thompson would get the starts in Edmonton and Washington. If the Bandits are going to sneak into the playoffs, they might have to win those games.

Philadelphia played last night and lost to Minnesota. Will the Wings be tired, or determined? Philadelphia has been the surprise of the league this season, leading the East.

7:12 p.m. -- Have to say that the pink uniforms don't look too bad. Actually, they are black with pink as a secondary trim. The unis will be auctioned after the game to raise money to fight cancer.

7:17 p.m. -- Let's review the standings. Philadelphia is 7-6 entering the game. Toronto is 6-6 but beating up on Edmonton as we speak. Rochester is 5-8, Buffalo is 4-8. It's fair to say a lot would have to go right for the Bandits to get a home playoff game in the first round

The scratches have arrived. Kelusky will sit as will Steve Priolo (said to be the flu) and Roger Vyse. You might remember last week that Vyse apparently had scored his 100th goal as a Bandit, only to have it take back on review. And he didn't score again. Mike McNamara gets to play in his first NLL game tonight. By the way, the Bandits only have five starters listed on the official sheet. I think it was just an oversight instead of a new strategy.

7:23 p.m. -- The media notes remind us that Philadelphia coach Johnny Mouradian made arguably the greatest trade in Buffalo sports history. He sent Brian Nikula to Detroit for a rookie named John Tavares back in October 1991. I read a while ago that Mouradian asked Bill Gerrie about Tavares, and the goalie replied that he thought Tavares could help. Now, more than 20 years later, Tavares is still helping.

Mouradian also was part of one of the oddest episodes in Bandits' history in 1992. He and assistant coach Les Bartley switched jobs, but the team didn't tell anyone.

7;31 p.m. -- Tom Montour is our sixth starter. By the way, there is a patch paying tribute to Tom's late mother on the Bandits' uniform tonight.

7:37 p.m. -- Another nice job on the anthem by Melanie Klaja.

7:47 p.m. -- Bandits did exactly what they didn't want to do at the start. Tom Montour took a major at 1:33. But after a short-handed goal by Luke Wiles, it's 1-1. By the way, Dan Dawson had his 74th assist of the season on Brodie Merrill's goal for the Wings. That ties the NLL season record.

7:56 p.m. -- Who are these guys? The Bandits have scored four goals in fewer than two minutes and lead, 5-1. Luke Wiles has three goals already.

8:04 p.m. -- Kevin Buchanan has been working hard the last few games. He could use a reward for it, and soon. It's 5-2, Bandits late in the first.

8:07 p.m. -- The Bandits finish the first period ahead, 6-2. Buffalo hasn't scored that many goals in a period since it got seven against Minnesota on St. Patrick's Day.

8:14 p.m. -- Bandits strike twice in first 80 seconds to lead by 8-2 count. One team was in first coming in and one team was in last, but so far you'd mix them up. So far.

8:16 p.m. -- Sure enough, the Wings score two goals in 43 seconds to cut it to 8-4.

8:28 p.m. -- Buchanan gets his reward with a strong move into the slot followed by a good shot. Buffalo is up, 10-5. The Bandits haven't scored 10 goals in a game in three weeks.

8:31 p.m. -- The Wings aren't falling too far behind, as they are now back by 10-6. They have taken a few too many penalties tonight. Buffalo has a five-minute power play coming up.

8:38 p.m. -- John Tavares got his second of the night on the power play. As we used to say in pickup basketball when a teammate was on a hot streak, "You might want to guard him." Tavares had been on a hot streak since 1992.

8:48 p.m. -- Bandits finish the first half with a 12-6 lead. Very impressive performance.

9:06 p.m. -- Mat Giles has a short-handed score to make it 13-6. Anthony Cosmo finally is playing like the goalie the Bandits thought they were getting, and ... his defense seems to have tightened up so far in the second half.

9:11 p.m. -- Mat Giles just got clobbered by two Wings. So ... he simply let a low shot goal as he was falling. Goal. It was the 500th career point for Giles, and gave Buffalo a 15-6 lead.

9:23 p.m. -- Buffalo is still up by eight at 15-7. This would be the Bandits' first win over the Wings this season after two losses. Basketball coaches always say it's tough to beat a team three straight times.

9:29 p.m. -- Tavares gets his fourth of the game in the final second of the third quarter. Buffalo has a 16-7 lead

9:36 p.m. -- Jimmy Purves and one of the Wings are discussing today's article on the young Bandit ... or something. Penalties were assessed as we almost had ourselves a bit of an incident.

9:43 p.m. -- The Bandits are just running out the clock here, as they still have a 16-7 lead. Blowouts aren't exactly common in this league, but at least it gives me time to write a story for the first edition. (Newspaper lesson: there are two editions on Saturdays, one at 10:30 and one at midnight.)

9:57 p.m. -- We're just running out the clock. There is 3:37 left, and it's still 16-7. Cosmo is improvingt his save percentage, at least.

10:04 p.m. -- We have 2:07 to go here, with a few penalties slowing up the finish

10:07 p.m. -- Bandits leave as 17-7 winners. Impressive outing.

--- Budd Bailey

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