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#FaceOffWeekend is This Weekend! Schedule

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WK
1
Fri, Dec 2
6:00 pm ET
Wings
Thunderbirds
Sat, Dec 3
5:00 pm ET
Warriors
Rock
Sat, Dec 3
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Bandits
Sat, Dec 3
7:30 pm ET
Seals
Riptide
Sat, Dec 3
8:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Swarm
Sat, Dec 3
8:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Rush
WK
2
Fri, Dec 9
8:30 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Panther City
Fri, Dec 9
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Seals
Sat, Dec 10
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Knighthawks
Sat, Dec 10
9:30 pm ET
Warriors
Roughnecks
WK
3
Fri, Dec 16
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Warriors
Fri, Dec 16
10:30 pm ET
Panther City
Desert Dogs
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Rock
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Swarm
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
FireWolves
Sat, Dec 17
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Riptide
Sat, Dec 17
8:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Panther City
WK
5
Fri, Dec 30
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Bandits
Fri, Dec 30
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Roughnecks
Sat, Dec 31
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Rush
WK
6
Fri, Jan 6
10:30 pm ET
Wings
Desert Dogs
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Swarm
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Panther City
Knighthawks
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
FireWolves
Sat, Jan 7
7:30 pm ET
Rock
Riptide
Sat, Jan 7
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 7
10:00 pm ET
Warriors
Seals
WK
7
Fri, Jan 13
6:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Thunderbirds
Fri, Jan 13
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 14
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Rock
Sat, Jan 14
7:00 pm ET
Panther City
Wings
Sat, Jan 14
7:30 pm ET
Swarm
Bandits
Sat, Jan 14
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Roughnecks
Sat, Jan 14
10:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Warriors
Sun, Jan 15
3:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Riptide
WK
8
Fri, Jan 20
7:30 pm ET
Bandits
Knighthawks
Fri, Jan 20
10:30 pm ET
Warriors
Desert Dogs
Sat, Jan 21
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Wings
Sat, Jan 21
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
FireWolves
WK
9
Fri, Jan 27
6:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Thunderbirds
Fri, Jan 27
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Wings
Sat, Jan 28
7:30 pm ET
Bandits
Riptide
Sat, Jan 28
8:30 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Rush
Sat, Jan 28
9:00 pm ET
Rock
Roughnecks
Sat, Jan 28
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 28
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Warriors
WK
10
Fri, Feb 3
9:00 pm ET
Swarm
Mammoth
Sat, Feb 4
6:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Thunderbirds
Sat, Feb 4
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Rock
Sat, Feb 4
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Wings
Sat, Feb 4
7:30 pm ET
Knighthawks
Bandits
Sat, Feb 4
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Seals
Sat, Feb 4
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Warriors
Sat, Feb 4
10:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Desert Dogs
WK
11
Fri, Feb 10
7:30 pm ET
Rock
Swarm
Fri, Feb 10
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Roughnecks
Sat, Feb 11
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Knighthawks
Sat, Feb 11
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Riptide
Sat, Feb 11
8:00 pm ET
Warriors
Panther City
Sat, Feb 11
9:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Roughnecks
WK
12
Fri, Feb 17
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Seals
Fri, Feb 17
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Warriors
Sat, Feb 18
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
Rock
Sat, Feb 18
7:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
FireWolves
Sat, Feb 18
7:30 pm ET
Wings
Bandits
Sat, Feb 18
8:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Panther City
Sun, Feb 19
1:00 pm ET
Riptide
Thunderbirds
WK
13
Fri, Feb 24
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Mammoth
Fri, Feb 24
10:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Desert Dogs
Sat, Feb 25
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Swarm
Sat, Feb 25
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Knighthawks
Sat, Feb 25
8:00 pm ET
Warriors
Rush
WK
14
Fri, Mar 3
6:30 pm ET
Bandits
Thunderbirds
Sat, Mar 4
11:30 am ET
Riptide
Wings
Sat, Mar 4
4:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Seals
Sat, Mar 4
7:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Rock
Sat, Mar 4
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
FireWolves
Sat, Mar 4
8:00 pm ET
Rush
Panther City
Mon, Mar 6
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Wings
WK
15
Fri, Mar 10
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Bandits
Fri, Mar 10
9:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Mammoth
Sat, Mar 11
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Rock
Sat, Mar 11
7:30 pm ET
Wings
Riptide
Sat, Mar 11
8:30 pm ET
Seals
Rush
Sat, Mar 11
10:30 pm ET
Warriors
Desert Dogs
Sun, Mar 12
4:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Swarm
WK
16
Fri, Mar 17
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Roughnecks
Fri, Mar 17
10:00 pm ET
Seals
Warriors
Sat, Mar 18
11:00 am ET
Swarm
Wings
Sat, Mar 18
6:00 pm ET
Rock
Thunderbirds
Sat, Mar 18
7:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Bandits
Sat, Mar 18
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Riptide
Sat, Mar 18
8:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Panther City
Sun, Mar 19
3:00 pm ET
Wings
Knighthawks
WK
17
Fri, Mar 24
8:30 pm ET
Seals
Panther City
Sat, Mar 25
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Wings
Sat, Mar 25
7:00 pm ET
Rock
FireWolves
Sat, Mar 25
7:30 pm ET
Swarm
Riptide
Sat, Mar 25
9:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Rush
Sat, Mar 25
10:00 pm ET
Bandits
Seals
Sat, Mar 25
10:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Warriors
Sat, Mar 25
10:30 pm ET
Knighthawks
Desert Dogs
WK
18
Fri, Mar 31
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Swarm
Fri, Mar 31
9:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Mammoth
Fri, Mar 31
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Seals
Sat, Apr 1
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Rock
Sat, Apr 1
8:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Panther City
Sat, Apr 1
9:30 pm ET
Warriors
Rush
Sun, Apr 2
1:00 pm ET
Swarm
Thunderbirds
Sun, Apr 2
6:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Wings
WK
19
Sat, Apr 8
7:00 pm ET
Rush
Swarm
Sat, Apr 8
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 8
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Roughnecks
Sat, Apr 8
9:00 pm ET
Warriors
Mammoth
Sat, Apr 8
10:30 pm ET
Seals
Desert Dogs
WK
20
Fri, Apr 14
9:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Roughnecks
Fri, Apr 14
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Mammoth
Sat, Apr 15
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Rock
Sat, Apr 15
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
FireWolves
Sat, Apr 15
7:30 pm ET
Riptide
Bandits
Sat, Apr 15
9:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Rush
Sat, Apr 15
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Warriors
WK
21
Fri, Apr 21
8:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Panther City
Sat, Apr 22
6:00 pm ET
Riptide
Thunderbirds
Sat, Apr 22
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 22
8:00 pm ET
Rock
Bandits
Sat, Apr 22
9:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Rush
Sat, Apr 22
10:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Seals
Sun, Apr 23
3:00 pm ET
Wings
FireWolves
WK
22
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Swarm
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
FireWolves
Sat, Apr 29
10:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Seals
Sat, Apr 29
10:00 pm ET
Riptide
Warriors
Sat, Apr 29
10:30 pm ET
Rush
Desert Dogs
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Stories/Op-Ed

Then & Now: Keenan’S History With Bandits Becomes Title Hunt With Rush

A trip to Buffalo brings back many good memories for Derek Keenan, but the upcoming journey is all about business, not pleasure.

Back in his playing days, the Saskatchewan Rush’s GM and head coach was a scoring dynamo with the Buffalo Bandits and helped them win back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993. This time around, though, Keenan will try to prevent the Bandits from winning it all so that the Rush can retain their grip on the Champion’s Cup. 

Game 1 of the 2016 NLL Final goes down on Saturday at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, with the Rush and Bandits venturing to SaskTel Center in Saskatoon for Game 2 on June 4. If Game 3 is necessary, they’ll return to Buffalo for Game 3 on June 11. 

Keenan’s first year in the NLL (then known as the MILL – Major Indoor Lacrosse League) came in ’92, and he helped the Bandits become the first expansion team to win the championship. He posted 42 points, including 26 goals, during the eight-game regular season, and then added another 16 points in just three playoff games. Keenan was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

“I was a rookie but I was 31 years old,” said Keenan. “We had a lot of veteran guys who had played in a lot of Mann Cups and with the national team.”

One of the young players on the Bandits roster was John Tavares, the uncle of New York Islanders star John Tavares, who would go on to set the NLL record for career points (1,949) and become the only player in league history to notch 500 goals and 500 assists. 

Buffalo would win the league title again the following season, Keenan’s last as a full-time player. Although it was just a short time, it was certainly a good time.

“It was very different back then,” recalled Keenan. “We played in the Buffalo Auditorium which was an amazing facility. You talk about loud and we filled the building. We played with three lines, five-man units. There was no specializing on offence or defence. We played at both ends of the floor. But a lot of guys are still around.”

Tavares is still on the Buffalo bench, though now as an assistant coach in support of Troy Cordingley, another ex-Bandit player from the original stellar lineup. Keenan also returned to Buffalo for a playoff matchup in 2008 when the Portland Lumberjax team he guided dropped the NLL Final to the Bandits, giving them their fourth and most-recent championship.

A Rush versus Bandits clash for the Champion’s Cup is a fitting end to the 2016 season as both teams finished atop their divisions with 13-5 records. Buffalo earned home-turf advantage over Saskatchewan thanks to a 19-18 overtime win in Saskatoon on February 26th – a game Keenan called “fun for the fans, ugly for the coaches.”

But the Rush rebounded immediately after that loss, recovering less than 24 hours later to pick up an overtime win on the road in Calgary which paved the way to a six-game winning streak for Saskatchewan. 

The Bandits present a formidable challenge to the Rush’s throne atop the NLL especially with an explosive offence led Dhane Smith, who set a league record with 137 points during the regular season. Yet the Rush are a dominant force as well with a terrific combination of firepower up front and stifling defence at the back. As evidenced by their lone regular-season meeting, the two teams are evenly matched. 

The Rush will rely heavily on what’s got them to the Final in the first place, and what was so prevalent during their strong-willed efforts against Calgary to win the West. 

“Our focus level is really high and we’re just not making many mistakes,” said Keenan. “That’s the key now. It’s about the team that limits their mistakes and takes advantages of the other team’s mistakes. 

“I still think we have another gear. We can be a little better in certain areas and we’ll have to be.”

It’s a serious time for all concerned, especially since the Rush have targeted a second consecutive Champion’s Cup and are returning an almost identical lineup to the one that won it all a year ago. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to savor the moments along the way.

“I embrace that. I want everyone to enjoy the moment,” said Keenan.

Story by SaskRush.com. Photo by Josh Schaefer.

NLL