Buffalo storm troops

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

They're the defending National Lacrosse League champions for good reason.

Three of them being John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis and Mike Accursi.

Last night the three Buffalo Bandits stars were front and centre pacing their team to an 13-8 victory over the Edmonton Rush at Rexall Place.

Accursi, who was traded by the Rush to the Bandits last season, led the way with five goals while Steenhuis and Tavares each had three.

"These guys are a great organization, so it's nothing personal," Accursi said.

"Obviously when you come back to play the team that traded you, you want to play your best. It was nice to get a good night out and have some good shots.

"It was a good win."

Accursi also added a pair of assists to finish with seven points on the night.

"Accursi beat us tonight pretty bad," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley. "All three of those guys are pretty good, they're all threats."

Accursi, started things off early, scoring on the first shot of the game, just over a minute into the contest .

He added a second 10 minutes later, while Roger Vyse scored a third to give the Bandits a 3-0 lead after the first quarter.

To their credit, the Rush were able to battle back on goals from Ryan Benesch, Jason Wulder and Ryan Campbell. Steenhuis then gave the Bandits a one-goal lead heading into the halftime break.

"We hung in there, they're a very good team and you could tell why they're champs," Hamley said.

"They patiently waited for us to make some mistakes and we made some mistakes which cost us. Hopefully we'll learn from it and we'll be better for it."

In the second half, Accursi increased the Bandits lead with his third goal of the game, but markers by Chris Seller and Dan Teat pulled the Rush even. Tavares briefly restored the Rush lead before Teat added his second to tie things up 6-6.

Before the end of the quarter, however, Rush forward Ryan McNish took a five-minute checking-from-behind penalty for laying out Ian Lord as he was reaching up for a loose ball.

Tavares went on to score two goals on the power play, giving the Bandits the advantage heading into the last 15 minutes.

Early in the fourth Steenhuis and Accursi extended the Bandits lead and they never looked back.

"It was tied and we had the momentum then too," Hamley said. "We talked about that, you can't make mistakes in that situation and we made a huge error. You can't let their power play get out there. They made it 8-6 and we never really recovered."

Once back in control of the contest, the Bandits simply ran away with the game not allowing the Rush to mount any type of comeback.

It's the mark of a championship team that is now off to a 5-0 start. The Rush, meanwhile, drop to 2-3 on the season with a visit to San Jose scheduled for tomorrow to face the Stealth.

"They played really well for three quarters and it looked like they had a little bit of a let down in the fourth quarter," said Bandits head coach and general manager Darris Kilgour.

"But they're a young team and they're getting better. They played us very tough."

Teat once again led the way offensively for the Rush with three goals and an assists.

"We had the momentum at that point in the game, whether it was worth a five minute penalty we're always going to say it wasn't," Teat said. "But you can't put a team like that on the power play for five minutes. You don't even notice JT (Tavares) up to that point.

"But we let a game-changer into the game at that point and then we're playing catch-up from there."


Videos

Photos