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Bandits notebook: Tavares out for at least three weeks

John Tavares’ career total of games played is at 299 and holding.

The Buffalo Bandits’ veteran has been placed on the second level of the injured reserve list, meaning he’ll miss at least three weeks of play.

“In the second shift in the game in Toronto, he pulled his calf muscle,” coach Troy Cordingley said. “It’s a tough thing. He’s a 46-year-old guy who has defeated all odds of playing this long. We’re going to take our time to make sure he is 100 percent and good to go. It’s a tough loss, but we believe we have depth and that the guys that are able to play will produce.”

The Bandits filled the roster spot by bringing Tyler Ferreira up from the practice squad. He was taken in the second round of the 2014 draft.

“He’s a big, lanky kid who has good hands around the net,” Cordingley said.

Ferreira has to wait for his first National Lacrosse League game. He was scratched on Friday in the win over Minnesota, as was Matthew Bennett.

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The Bandits play in Rochester on Saturday night for the first time this season.

You might remember the last time the Bandits made that particular road trip. The members of the Buffalo organization certainly do.

Last year, the Bandits met the Knighthawks in the finals of the East Division playoffs. Buffalo won a regulation game at home, and then lost the following week in Rochester – setting up an immediate 10-minute mini-game to decide which team would go to the National Lacrosse League finals. Cory Vitarelli of the Knighthawks ended Buffalo’s season with a game-winning goal … in overtime, no less.

“After what happened last year, it won’t take much to light a spark after the way the season ended,” Bandits transition player Mitch Wilde said.

Buffalo and Rochester have had one of the most heated rivalries in the NLL for 20 years, mostly because the cities are close together. Bandits’ fans usually make the trip down the Thruway in large numbers to add an extra dimension to the noise in the building. Buffalo’s return to the Blue Cross Arena represents a good-sized challenge for the team.

“Whenever the teams get together, you are in for a battle, a heated battle,” assistant coach Dan Teat said. “We are playing the three-time defending champions. It’s a measuring stick.”

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Rochester last year tied its team record for wins in a season with 14, although its 14-4 record in 2014 didn’t quite meet the standard set by the 2007 team (14-2). This year the Knighthawks haven’t started so well.

Rochester dropped its first two games, losing to Toronto and New England. The Knighthawks bounced back to beat the Rock last week, and would return to the .500 mark with a win Saturday night.

“The key is playing the defense we want to play,” defender Paul Dawson said. “In the first couple of games we tried to do too much and got out of our comfort zone. On Saturday, we put the whole 60 minutes together. … We got back to the way we’ve played for the last couple of years.”

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The Bandits had a 35-21 edge in shots in the first half. The Swarm finished the game with a 59-57 edge in that category. ... Buffalo moved within a half-game of the lead in the NLL East.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com