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Rough night for the Bandits as team drops to 0-2

The new green field shimmered like a freshly manicured golf course; Darris Kilgour’s retired #43 was reconstituted and hung from the rafters with no pomp or ceremony; Annoying P.A. Guy was in his full throated enthusiastic voice after a seven month hiatus, and the crazy fans of Banditland were eager to respond. A near capacity crowd of 17,207, with a healthy sprinkle of Rochester road trippers in attendance, all combined to raise the curtain on the Buffalo Bandits 2010 season tonight at HSBC Arena.

When it was all over, it was the Rochester Knighthawks who came out on top, winning 13-11 to go to a perfect 2-0 record in this young season. The game was not decided, however, until the final minute, when Steve Toll put away an empty net goal to seal the win.

“I thought we outplayed them, I thought we out hit them, I thought we out shot them, but we gave up some stupid opportunities in the fourth quarter. We gave them some fast breaks on their chances and we didn’t capitalize on our chances, and we couldn’t get a goal when it counted,” said a disappointed Coach Darris Kilgour.

Buffalo got on the board early, scoring the first three goals of the game. Following Mark Steenhuis’ goal to make it 3-0, a melee broke out in front of the Rochester net. At one point Mac Allen was on top of Steenhuis, “giving him the business” while Steenhuis was pinned and helpless. A total of 34 minutes in penalties was doled out once order was restored, but both teams would get into penalty trouble throughout the night. The break in the action seemed to give Rochester a chance to regroup and regain some momentum. “It’s a joke” said Kilgour. “If I said what I thought I’d be fined so I am not going to comment. I don’t know how we ended up even after that. They grabbed our offensive players and took their liberties with them. Right now I don’t feel happy about the calls.”

At halftime Buffalo led 6-5.

Both teams traded goals in the third, and Rochester took their first lead, 8-7 at the 6 minute mark of the third quarter, a lead which the Knighthawks would not relinquish. Former Bandit Cory Bomberry made it 9-7 a minute later with a laser from the point.

The Rochester team then took control of the play in the fourth quarter. Goaltender Pat O’Toole was unspectacular in this game, stopping 33 of the 44 shots he faced,and did allow a dribbler to get by him courtesy of Mark Steenhuis, which closed the gap to 10-9 Rochester in the 4th. Each time the Bandits made it close, Rochester pulled away, and held the Buffalo team scoreless for most of the late part of the game, until Brett Bucktooth’s power play goal late, his second of the night, brought the team within striking distance for the equalizer.

One player who is sorely missed on the team is their superstar, John Tavares, who missed his second game with “a lower body injury.” Speaking to the media after the game, Tavares still lists himself as day to day and will try to make a go of it next weekend. Tavares participated in the pregame warmup, but then decided he could not play. “The older you get, the longer it takes to get over injuries,” said Tavares. “I am definitely jealous of anyone who can run right now. But I’ll get over it.”

Tavares has been an ironman of sorts with the Bandits since joining the team in 1992.

Buffalo native Frank Resetarits scored one goal tonight, and was happy to be playing for his hometown Bandits. Nursing a bloody nose and plenty of blood spatter on his shirt, Resetarits said, “It was cool coming out on the floor tonight, it was like a surreal feeling being out there finally. It would have been nice to send the home crowd and fans home with a win, but it’s still pretty cool to be out there.”

Now at 0-2, Buffalo will try to get on track next weekend, and will be following the Sabres on an extended road trip, with games in Everett, Washington against the Stealth next Friday and in Edmonton against the Rush on Saturday. “Yeah we’re two games out but the good thing is that Toronto and Rochester still have to play each other. We’re just looking for our first win and we’ll go from there” said Kilgour.