The past week of lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League, we saw the riveting action that we have grown accustom to over the years. In the Stealth home opener, a tight battle was fought between Vancouver and Minnesota. At home against Philadelphia on Steve Donner Night, the Knighthawks cruised out to a big lead only to have to hold on much like the playoff game of 2012. The Bandits-Rock game had the backdrop of some deeper meanings with the off season moves between the two clubs. The Bandits opened the 2014 season on a sour note. I have to think that if any of the Bandit players caught Dan Teat’s Sports Center quality interview from Friday morning, they were inspired by his certainty.
That evening’s affair changed momentum at the half like the flip of a switch. Toronto and Nick Rose ruled the first half but Buffalo and Anthony Cosmo returned the favor in the last 2 quarters. In that 4th quarter, John Tavares struck for his first goal of the young season and that 11th Bandit goal stood to be the winner in a 12-10 victory.
The celebration after the Tavares power play goal said it all to me. Buffalo needed to get the monkey off its collective back and to lead the Bandits, no one needed it more than Tavares. One game into the 2014 schedule, chatter had started about writing J.T. off or that he had lost his touch and all the rest.
Johnny T. isn’t a big celebrator of his goals after achieving god-like status through two decades of play. Still, after that 4th quarter goal squeaked in, J.T. couldn’t hide his relief in celebration. Relief that he could still do what he has done since 1992, score big goals.
For an encore, a more relaxed Tavares led the Buffalo side with 5 goals (that’s right FIVE!) in Philly in a Sunday afternoon matinee. Who said over the hill?
Tavares counted the lone Bandit goal in the 4th quarter of a tie game with the Wings. It was the 11th tallie of the game for No. 11, the same as Friday’s Rock tilt; coincidence?
Like a gambler with a hot hand J.T. ripped his patented screener past Evan Kirk on the first Bandits’ possession in overtime, game over. Two weekend games, two game-winners for the Bandits’ legend.
As it was mentioned earlier this week Tavares’s last OT winner in Philadelphia was in his rookie year in the championship game of 1992, some 23 NLL seasons ago. I remember another time Tavares provided some heroics when scoring the tying goal with seconds left in a Bandits-Blazers contest in 1996 in Boston. J.T. then proceeded to pot the winner in OT. These goals came against yours truly in a game we had in the death grips, only to be cheated out of certain victory by No. 11 in orange and black.
The big goals keep on coming for the Bandits’ 45-year-old icon who has one of the greatest storylines in all of sport.
Gretzky was the “Great One” and Reggie Jackson was “Mr. October”. The best of the best are coined with such titles.
If Gordie Howe was “Mr. Hockey” then I’d say it’s long overdue that we crown John Tavares “Mr. Lacrosse.”O'Neill is a three-time Mann Cup winner and former general manager of the Philadelphia Wings (2001-2004) and Minnesota Swarm (2004-2010), where he was twice named NLL GM of the Year (2007, 2008).
Rate This Story: