Tavares Returns to Lead Buffalo over Philly
by Patrick Gordon | NLL.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Mark Steenhuis scored a pair of goals to go along with six assists, and Brett Bucktooth chipped in with a pair of goals to lead the Buffalo Bandits over the Philadelphia Wings, 13-11, in front of 7,723 fans at the Wachovia Center on Saturday.
John Tavares cemented the Bandits' win with his goal with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. He finished with a pair of goals and four assists. Tavares, the National Lacrosse League's all-time leading scorer, finally played his first game of the season after missing six games with a calf injury.
Both teams entered the contest floundering near the bottom of the Eastern Division, so the win was crucial for Buffalo (2-5) in keeping their chances for a postseason berth alive.
"Anytime you get a win in Philadelphia, it's a big win," said Bandits Head Coach Darris Kilgour. "Especially being 1-5 though, this was a playoff game for us. It was a huge win and it gives us confidence that we can come from behind, which we haven't been able to this year. It really is a big stepping stone for us."
The loss knocks Philadelphia (1-5) to last place in the division, and puts their quest for a postseason berth on life support.
"I thought our guys fought till the end, and I'm happy with how they played," said Wings Head Coach David Huntley. "I think we competed well tonight and that's all I can ask of them. Sometimes the ball just doesn't fall the way you want it to."
Geoff Snider's goal with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter brought Philadelphia within one, but Jon Harasym's goal nearly four minutes later pushed the Bandits lead to 12-10.
Buffalo took their first lead of the evening early in the third quarter on Kevin Dostie's goal, but Kyle Wailes answered 7 seconds later with his third goal of the evening to tie the game at 8-8. Bucktooth notched his pair later in the frame to push the Bandits ahead for good.
Dostie finished with four points (2 G, 2 A). Rookie Kyle Clancy chipped in with three assists.
Drew Westervelt, who entered the contest tied with Mat Giles as the Wings' leading goal scorer, finished with a goal and two assists in the losing effort. Giles finished with three assists. Rookie Max Seibald chipped in with a goal and an assist in his home debut.
"We didn't put enough balls in the net, but I don't fault the effort of anyone tonight," Huntley said. "I'm proud of how they played."
The two teams exchanged goals throughout the second quarter before Frank Resetarits's goal with eight minutes remaining brought the Bandits even with the Wings at 7-7.
Philadelphia scored five unanswered goals within the first seven minutes of the first quarter, but Buffalo struck back with four goals of their own, including a pair within a seven-second span, to cap off an offensively driven opening frame.
Bandits' goaltender Angus Goodleaf relieved Ken Montour after the Wings jumped ahead with a 5-0 advantage. He recorded 37 saves on 43 shots in the winning effort.
"Guys just got focused," Kilgour said. "Once we got our communication going and got players to the areas we wanted to I think that changed the momentum of the game and gave us a lot of confidence that we could play good defense in front of Angus."
Philadelphia hosts Rochester next Saturday, while Buffalo enjoys a bye before hosting the Wings on February 27.
"At some point it has to all come together for us," Huntley said. "Maybe next week will be it."
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