By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Philadelphia, Pa. – John Tavares has added to his historic lacrosse career.
Tavares has now become the all-time National Lacrosse League scorer. He was also the first-ever player to score 500 goals and have 500 assists in his career. Tavares and the Buffalo Bandits were able to defeat the Philadelphia Wings, 16-7, last night at the Wells Fargo Center.
In the game, the Wings were wearing special Pink jerseys that were auctioned off to the highest bidder after the game at the AT&T Pavilion. The Pink jerseys were sold to help raise money for breast cancer research. Casey Cattie, a relative of Wings player Kyle Sweeney, started off the night by singing the National Anthem.
Tavares has helped to improve the Bandits record to 4-2 on the season. They are currently tied with the Rochester Knighthawks in the second spot in the East. Both the Bandits and the Knighthawks are trailing the Toronto Rock, who are 5-2.
The Wings dropped to 3-4 on the season. They are currently in the last-place spot in the East. Many people at 42 years old have already given on playing sports and went on with their life, but Tavares continues to play the game at a very high level.
“It’s hard to say,” said coach John Tucker. “I don’t know him that well, but he must still have the passion to play. He’s extremely competitive. My hats off to him.”
Tavares had five goals in the game. His first goal in the game was his 700th career goal, the most by any player ever in the league.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” said Tucker. “He’s a joy to watch. Everybody appreciates the level of play he has. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s very small. He might be the smartest guy I’ve ever seen. He finds gaps and shoots very well. It’s unfortunate that its at our expense (last night). He’s scored a lot of goals against a lot of teams. We’re frustrated that we let him get so open.”
Tavares had a hand in the Wings making a goalie change late into the fourth quarter. It is the second straight week that Brandon Miller, the starting goalie for the East team in the upcoming All-Star game, has been benched in the second half. Back up Ray Hodgkinson played 18:52 minutes at Rochester last weekend, then played 6:17 minutes last night.
“The past two weeks, we haven’t played particularly well,” said coach Tucker. “We have to get back to the basics. We were due for a let down, which we’re currently experiencing right now. We’re 3-4 right now, and we can still turn this thing around.”
After back-to-back Bandits goals to start the fourth quarter, Paul Dawson thought he would try to re-energize the Wings. Dawson decided to use his fists to get his point across.
Dawson and Bandits’ Travis Irving squared off. After several punches by each player, Dawson landed a punch that knocked Irving out cold. Irving did not move for several minutes, as team and arena officials looked over him. Once he got up, he could hardly walk on his own, even with the help of the trainer.
“That’s one of the best knockouts I’ve seen in the lacrosse game,” said Alex Turner. “There’s not much more you can say about that. He’s a great fighter and a tough guy.”
Dawson is one of the enforcers on the Wings.
“Yeah, he fights quite a bit,” said Turner. “Besides that, he’s an unbelievable defensive guy. If we need him to fight, he’ll fight. But we would like to keep him on the floor, as well. He can do it all – he’s a really good player.
“After the fight, the Bandits out scored the Wings 3-2 in the final 12 minutes. I think we have to get greedy. We have to pick up loose balls and out work the other team. That’s what we have to do in order to be successful.”
The aforementioned Tavares had the game-high 5 goals. Chad Culp finished with 4 goals, while Tracey Kelusky added 3 goals — his second goal was his 700th career point. Mark Steenhuis also added 2 goals, while Brett Bucktooth and Roger Vyse added a goal each.
The Wings had three players with two goals each. Turner, Drew Westervelt, and Anthan Iannucci each scored two goals. Dan Hardy scored the team’s other goal.
“I tried to get in the middle and I tried to work hard to get those goals,” said Turner.
Both teams play again next week. The Wings will face the Bandits for the first time at their place. The Wings are currently 0-2 at home against the Bandits.
“Well, I thought Buffalo was very good (last night),” said coach Tucker. “We struggled with our energy. We gave up a lot of rebounds and they took advantage of that. We’re going to have to get back to the drawling board. We’re extremely young, but we’ll learn from this.”
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