BANDITS MEET SURGING TITANS TONIGHT

Tavares nears Gait's all-time goal scoring record

01/17/2008

John Tavares (left) has 593 career goals, only three behind retired great Gary Gait's 596. He hopes to pass the record on Saturday, when Buffalo hosts the 1-0 New York Titans.
The Buffalo Bandits (1-1) will host the New York Titans (1-0) on Saturday at HSBC Arena at 7:30 PM EST. Buffalo, who topped rival Rochester on the road last weekend in the second game of a back-to-back series, hopes to grab a share of first place in the East with a win, while veteran forward John Tavares is only three goals away from Gary Gait's all-time goal scoring record. New York topped the Portland LumberJax last week in their opener, 14-11.

The Bandits got scoring from down the depth chart last week -- transition player Mark Steenhuis led Buffalo with six goals in two games, while forward Roger Vyse notched four goals and Kevin Dostie added three. John Tavares only scored twice, both on Friday's home opener in Buffalo, to inch within three goals of Gait.

"Right now we are still searching for a way to replace what we are missing," said head coach Darris Kilgour. "[Greenhalgh and Bucktooth are] two big guys to miss on the offense for any team. We really don't have much depth right now so we really need the guys we have to step up and bury the ball when they have the chance."

"I know I definitely have to contribute," said Roger Vyse, who finished last season with 12 goals and as many assists. "It's hard to lose a guy, no matter how long. I just have to do my best and step my game up, putting some goals on the scoreboard."

Starting goaltender Mike Thompson was pulled from Friday's game after giving up three goals on three shots to start the second half, but played solid on Saturday to notch his first win of the year. He currently has an 11.48 goals against average and a 73.1 save percentage. Backup Ken Montour, who replaced Thompson on Friday, currently leads the league with an 88.5% save percentage, although he was credited with the loss.

New York, which went 0-2 against Buffalo last year, are riding high after an opening night road win against the Portland LumberJax. Casey Powell led the charge with four goals and four assists, while Pat Maddalena and Mike McLellan scored three goals apiece. 25-year-old Matt Vinc made 44 saves in the win.

"Our guys are driven to win the next game. Last week was a good start but this week we simply have to play our best," said Titans head coach Adam Mueller. "Buffalo has been one of the top tier teams in the NLL for a few years now. They have a very potent offense and a physical, athletic defense that thrives on making teams make decision under pressure. I think we should be a bit more familiar with their style this season but how we handle, adjust and react will determine our success."

Titans defender Patrick Merrill was suspended on Thursday for an illegal cross-check delivered last weekend at Portland.