By Chris Ryndak - Bandits.com
The Buffalo Bandits made their presence known at the 2012 NLL All-Star Game. With six representatives in the exhibition held at First Niagara Center on Saturday, the Bandits found their way onto the score sheet early.
Luke Wiles and John Tavares, playing in his record-setting 10th NLL-All Star Game were the most offensively productive representatives from Banditland with four points each. Their efforts weren’t enough, however as the East All-Stars fell to their Western counterparts, 20-18 in front of 13,446 fans.
Tavares, the captain of the East, had two goals and two assists while Wiles, in his second All-Star Game, scored a hat trick in the first half and added an assist to close out his night. Wiles opened the scoring 1:09 into the contest.
“I got a loud cheer there [during introductions], which was great,” Wiles said. “…It was a lot of fun out there tonight. It would’ve been nice to get the W, but they seemed to have a lot younger legs than us and we seemed to lose steam as the game went on.”
Geoff Snider of the West, with four goals and two assists, was named MVP. Adam Jones, who played lacrosse at Canisius College, had five points (1+4) for the West. Dan Dawson led the East with seven points (1+6).
Bandits goaltender Mike Thompson started for the East. He made 30 saves on 38 shots in his one half of work. Thompson joked earlier in the week that he’d like to keep his goals against under 15 for the evening and he accomplished that goal. The West ended up with 74 shots on goal, while the East put 69 balls on net.
“[The goaltenders] faced a lot of shots and they’re tough shots because they’ve got the best shooters in the league shooting at them,” said East head coach Troy Cordingley. “It’s a tough spot, but they chose to play that position, so the onus is on them.”
Scott Self scored 1:13 into the second quarter after following up a Tavares breakaway. Western goalie Chris Levis gave up the rebound and Self buried the second opportunity to give the East a 7-2 lead. Self finished the game with a goal and three assists.
The East led by as many as seven goals when Wiles put his squad up 9-2 early in the second quarter. The West chipped away and scored the last three goals of the half to make it an 11-8 game.
The West rallied in the third quarter and Jordan MacIntosh tied the game at 15 with 0.2 seconds to play. The lead changed for the first time in the fourth quarter when West captain John Grant Jr. scored on goaltender Matt Roik. The West would not trail for the rest of the game, outscoring the East 12-7 in the second half.
“We were getting our butts kicked at the start of the game but it’s a lot of fun,” Snider said. “…There are so many great players out there, you’re more in awe of what they’re doing than what you’re doing.”
The win marked only the second win for the West in the game’s current format dating back to 2004. The East is now 6-2 all-time in the All-Star Game.
Defensemen Chris White and Billy Dee Smith also represented Buffalo in the game.