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Fans look to Bandits as NHL lockout continues

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Buffalo: Fans find replacement for Sabres during lockout, Bandits
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Not much goes on these days inside the First Niagara Center. Besides a few scattered concerts and events, the main team, the Buffalo Sabres, aren't sure when or if they'll even play this year.

"I miss it a lot. I wish they would get their act together and get the NHL back," said one hockey fan.

But soon a professional sports team will open their season there: The Buffalo Bandits.

"We're excited about this year's season," said East Amherst resident Dan Penberthy. "They're a lot of fun. Especially without a hockey season we're looking even more forward to coming back to the arena and enjoying some games."

And it wasn't exactly a rush for tickets, but a steady stream of fans did scoop theirs up when Bandits tickets went on sale to the public Monday morning. For some, seeing the indoor lacrosse team is an alternative for the so far non-existent hockey season.

"I'm a Sabres fan but since there's no hockey season so far I figured the Buffalo Bandits would be the next best ticket," said Kevin Curtin of Lockport.

The Bandits will play eight regular season games at the First Niagara Center starting on January 12, 2013. With the ongoing NHL lockout, that's 8 more than the Sabres can say.

Players including rookie Dhane Smith, who was a Bandits fan before being drafted, are ready to pack the arena once again.

"I'm really excited," Smith said after a recent training camp practice. "I know the fans here are crazy and I love it. I remember last year watching the Bandits play and now I get to play with them."

More information on the Bandits season can be found at ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP