Legendary Bandit to take shots at Riggers

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Chances are tomorrow night at the Saddledome will be the final opportunity for lacrosse fans to see a certified legend.

However, Calgary Roughnecks general manager Kurt Silcott wouldn't bet on it.

Silcott was a beneficiary of John Tavares' talents when he was the Buffalo Bandits GM, but now he just hopes the defence he assembled can limit the National Lacrosse League's all-time leading scorer.

"I've been saying it will be the last time he comes to Calgary, but for all we know Tavares could play another five or six years in this league," Silcott said as the 2-2 Riggers prepared to host the 2-2 Bandits tomorrow (7:30 p.m.).

"He's just a phenomenal player. In my opinion, the best to ever play the box game. If you are a fan of lacrosse, you should never miss seeing him.

"He does so many great things, it's fun to sit back and see it. Hopefully, we can keep him in check though."

Silcott isn't the only Roughneck who has reaped the rewards of having Tavares, who is the uncle of hockey phenom John Tavares, on his side. The list of former Bandits is a long one, as goalies Steve Dietrich and Ryan Avery, defenders Kyle Couling and Chris Seller and transition player Jeff Shattler have all suited up for Bandits.

But having intimate knowledge of Tavares' game does little good. Roughnecks assistant captain Andrew McBride grew up idolizing Tavares and said the 39-year-old is impossible for defenders to shut down.

"You can't focus on one aspect of his game because he beat you in a multitude of ways," McBride said. "If you try to press him, he can beat you inside. If you lay off, he will get off a good shot. You can't really stop him, instead just try to contain him.

"He's one of those guys who seems to be getting better with age. He's a good wine. He seems to get better, more wily and is always in the right place at the right time."

Although Tavares passed Gary Gait for all-time NLL goals this season -- he was already the career points leader -- the Bandits star truly doesn't care about the stats.

"John's unselfish and smart," Silcott said. "He seems to know how the play will develop before anyone else does, so he's heading to a spot and the ball magically appears there.

"He can do it all. It's a pleasure watching him all these years, but, hopefully, we can saddle him with a loss."

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KELUSKY DOUBTFUL

Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky is seeing a concussion specialist, and Silcott is hopeful for some good news.

Kelusky has missed three games with the head injury, but the team doesn't want to rush him back too soon.

"Last year, I'm not sure we could have sustained a loss of Tracey, Kaleb (Toth) or Lewis (Ratcliff)," Silcott said. "This year, we have enough depth that we're able to battle without one of our top players. When we do get him back, we should get a big boost."


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