BUCKTOOTH EXCITED FOR ALL-STAR HOMECOMINGFeatures | 2/23/2011 3:32:08 PM | Michael Jafari
After a one-year hiatus, the National Lacrosse League’s All-Star Game is back, and it will feature four Buffalo Bandits as John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Chris White and Brett Bucktooth will all suit up for the East in the 2011 NLL All-Star Game.
Although Steenuis, Tavares and White have been to the game before, it will be the first time Bucktooth graces the turf in the star-studded exhibition game. When the Bandits forward heard the news that he had been selected to play in the game, he was in shock. Soon, however, the emotions started to set in.
“I was on my way home from a business meeting and one of my brothers texted me. I thought he was joking at first, because it kind of came to me as a surprise,” recalled Bucktooth. “The first thing I thought of was that I will be able to play with my teammates Mark, Whitey, and J.T. along with the best players in the East on one roster. It’s going to be an honor playing exclusively in one game with the best players in the league. It is something to be proud of, and I can’t wait for it.”
The five-year veteran is generally known for his solid two-way game and rugged style at the forward position. This season, Bucktooth has scored five goals, 13 points and has collected 18 loose balls in seven games. White, who has been Bucktooth’s teammate throughout Bucktooth’s entire career, is extremely excited that the league acknowledged his hard work and under-rated skill.
“Bucky deserves it because he has been playing so great for us this year,” said the Bandits’ captain. “I told him to just go out there and have some fun and enjoy the experience.”
The All-Star Game will be played at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, which is a familiar area to Bucktooth. Bucktooth grew up in nearby Nedrow, New York, and played college field lacrosse at Syracuse University. Since he has so many ties to the area, it is an extra special event for the Bandits’ grinder.
“I’m pretty fortunate to have a lot of friends and family back home, and I was lucky enough to play at Syracuse, where they’ve seen a lot of my games. Since I came to Buffalo they haven’t watched as much, but now they’re excited that I can play near home,” said Bucktooth.
Bucktooth has many friends and family members that live in the area and who are excited for his homecoming. Even though Bucktooth is looking forward to playing in front of a friendly crowd, he is just as psyched for the impact the game will have on the town.
“They’re all disappointed I couldn’t get any extra tickets, but I still was able to help a few family members,” Bucktooth said with a smile. “It’s going to be a fun event especially since I am Oneida playing in an Oneida Nation Indian casino. It is a great chance for them to showcase their facilities, and a great chance for the town to come support the game.”
There is a reason that the game is being held in Verona instead of a current NLL team’s arena as the league wants to focus on the sport’s roots. Lacrosse was originally created by the Iroquois centuries ago, and it still inspires cultural passion and community healing. Oneidas and other Iroquois used the game as a form of entertainment, physical conditioning and spiritual celebration. It was also described as the “medicine game,” used to settle disputes between nations or villages in a peaceful manner. Because of lacrosse’s strong history, Bucktooth is expecting a strong showing.
“I expect to see a good crowd from Six Nations,” said Bucktooth. “Anytime those Natives play in any game the Natives come out and support their players and family members. It’s going to be a nice, exciting event for everyone to come out and support.”
Steenhuis and White were voted in to start the All-Star Game while Bucktooth was named as a reserve along with Tavares, who was also selected as the East team’s captain. All-Star Games in most sports typically consist of lots of goals and fewer hits, but Bucktooth says it won’t take away from his game.
“Being a Buffalo Bandit, I’m sure I will try and rough it out a little bit, and maybe throw a hit in,” joked Bucktooth. “It is still lacrosse, whether it’s a practice, All-Star Game or pick-up game you still want to go out and play hard. You want to have fun, but you always have it in your blood to go out there and win, so I expect to see a couple of nice hits.”
The game will be played on Sunday, February 27 at 2 p.m. Bandit fans will be able to watch the game on the Versus network.