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Bandits coaches Kilgour, Tavares earn top honors

The awards keep coming for the Buffalo Bandits.

The National Lacrosse League announced Wednesday Buffalo head coaches Rich Kilgour and John Tavares have been named the recipients of the Les Bartley Award as the NLL’s top coach.

The award was voted on by team executives from each franchise that participated in the 2018-19 season.

It’s a first for Kilgour and Tavares. The first Bandits coach to win the award was Darris Kilgour, Rich’s brother, in 2003.

With Rich Kilgour and Tavares behind the bench, the Bandits (14-4) improved their regular season record by six wins and advanced to the championship finals of the NLL.

Previously, the Bandits’ Steve Dietrich was selected as the NLL General Manager of the Year.

Under Rich Kilgour and Tavares, eight different Bandits saw their point totals improve from the 2017-18 season. Forward Thomas Hoggarth and transition player Chase Fraser both set career highs and had their season point totals surge by 56 and 30 points, respectively, after seeing increased playing time.

The Bandits finished the regular season leading the league in goals scored (244), goals allowed (186) and a franchise record for goal differential (plus-58). They were the only team in the NLL to beat every other team in the league at least once.

Buffalo’s appearance in the NLL finals was its first since 2016.

Kilgour and Tavares were promoted to head coaches after serving as assistant coaches for the Bandits for eight and three seasons, respectively. Both Kilgour and Tavares have had their numbers retired by the team after playing with the Buffalo team for their entire professional careers. Each has been inducted to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and were both among six players named to the starting lineup on the Bandits’ 25th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Rich Kilgour, a Niagara Falls native, spent 18 seasons as a defensive specialist for the Bandits, 12 of those as team captain.

Tavares is the NLL’s all-time leader in games played (306), goals (815), assists (934), and points (1,749). His 2,191 loose balls recovered is the second most all-time.

Kilgour’s No. 16 and Tavares’ No. 11 have been retired by the Bandits.

The Les Bartley Award honors the former coach of the Bandits and Toronto Rock, who died of cancer in 2005.

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