BANDITS BUCKTOOTH, STEENHUIS, TAVARES AND WHITE LEAD THE EAST TO ALL-STAR GAME VICTORYNews | 2/27/2011 7:18:07 PM | Michael Jafari
The Buffalo Bandits were well represented in the 2011 National Lacrosse League All-Star Game, as the East defeated the West 30-26 at the Turning Stone Casino on Sunday afternoon in front of a live national television audience on Versus.
It was a wild, back-and-forth showdown between the two squads, but a late fourth quarter rally by the East was the difference in the game. Bandits forward Brett Bucktooth scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 10:39 of the fourth quarter to send the East squad on its way.
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Bucktooth put on a show in front of his home crowd as the Nedrow, NY native scored three goals and added three assists while Mark Steenhuis scored five goals in the victory. John Tavares scored two goals and notched an assist while serving as the team’s captain in the star-studded contest. Bandits defenseman Chris White, who, along with Steenhuis, was voted into the game, tallied an assist and served the East’s only penalty in the game.
“I don’t think anyone in the locker room wants to lose a game regardless of what it is because we all have that competitive edge,” said Steenhuis. “It was a pretty sloppy first half, and the guys on the bench said we needed to shape up in the second half and not drop so many passes. All and all you do want to win, and you saw the better product in the second half.”
The West was the first to strike in the game when Calgary Roughnecks sniper Jeff Shattler beat Philadelphia Wings goaltender Brandon Miller. The East responded when Rochester Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson scooped up a rebound and put it into the open net. Bucktooth put the East ahead when he walked in and beat Minnesota Swarm goaltender Nick Patterson. The Oneida native heard a loud applause from his hometown fans following his goal.
The West came back with three straight goals from Andrew McBride, Lewis Ratcliff and Luke Wiles to take a 4-2 lead. Shortly after, the East came surging back when Steenhuis and Boston Blazers defenseman Kyle Rubisch each scored to tie the game at four.
Tavares put the East in front when he took a clear shot and beat the goaltender over his right shoulder. After a goal exchange from Wiles and Jamieson, Steenhuis grabbed his second goal of the game when he scored a one-handed breakaway goal. At the end of the first quarter, the East held an 8-6 lead.
Tavares opened the scoring in the second half to increase the East’s lead to three. After an Evans goal made it 10-6, the West rallied back with five unanswered goals from Callum Crawford, Paul Rabil, Ratcliff, Wiles, and Scott Ranger to grab an 11-10 lead. The East came roaring back with goals from Powell and Toronto Rock forward Colin Doyle to regain the lead, 12-11. The West tied it up late in the second when Wiles netted his fifth goal of the game. The game went into halftime tied at 12.
At halftime, the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team was honored for their defense of Native American Sovereignty this past summer after they were denied the right to travel to the Lacrosse World Championships using their Native American Haudenosaunee Passports. Among the players honored was Bucktooth, who also participated in the hardest shot contest at halftime. The Bandits forward shot a whopping 92 mph, but he was beat by Doyle’s 101 mph laser.
“I think it speaks highly of the united nation and the people itself as well as the businesses and enterprises to host an event like this,” Bucktooth said about his homecoming. “I thought they did an excellent job of putting us up and taking care of us. It’s always fun playing around home especially when your friends and family come out to support.”
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It was a back-and-forth third quarter that saw the lead change four times. Rabil, Ranger (2), Grant (3), Watt, and Ryan Benesch each scored for the West while Steenhuis, Shawn Evans (2), Jamieson (2), Dan Dawson, Sanderson, and Rubisch got on the board for the East. The game was tied 20-all at the end of three quarters.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Grant gave the West an early lead, but Evans knotted it up shortly after. Bucktooth and Steenhuis followed up with two straight goals to put the East in front by two. However, the West re-took the lead after four consecutive goals from Rhys Duch, Crawford, Benesch, and Grant. The East started a surge of its own as Doyle and Max Seibald scored within a minute of each other to tie the game at 25. The East didn’t stop there, as they continued to rally late in the fourth with goals from Garrett Billings and another by Bucktooth. Steenhuis and Sanderson added two more while Wiles added one for the West to give the East a 30-26 win in Verona, New York.
Evans was named the All-Star Game’s MVP as the Rochester Knighthawks forward scored four goals and added eight assists in the victory. Evans and his Knighthawks teammates will be the Bandits’ next opponent.
“I’ve grown up with Shawny and the Evans boys all my life, so I get up more for those games because I want the bragging rights in the summer. He’s hot and playing well for Rochester right now, so we’ll need to key in on him. Maybe we’re friends now, but it all changes on the floor, or maybe in the car on the way home, but that’s about it,” joked White.
Now that the All-Star Game has passed, the Bandits (4-3) will get back to work. Buffalo will welcome the Rochester Knighthawks (5-4) to HSBC Arena on Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m.