ALL-STAR WHITE ANCHORING BANDITSFeatures | 3/2/2011 10:07:10 AM | Michael Jafari
The Buffalo Bandits may have had the weekend off, but their captain was still at work.
Defenseman Chris White made the trip to Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York to play in his third straight NLL All-Star Game on Sunday afternoon. Joining White were teammates John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis and Brett Bucktooth, who all participated in the game along with the rest of the best players in the National Lacrosse League.
“It was nice to sit on the bench and watch those offensive guys move the ball around,” said White. “A lot of them will be playing in the world championship and playing for their respective countries, so watching them play together and seeing the power play combinations was a lot of fun.”
White saw a lot of offense in the star-studded contest, with many of the points coming from his teammates. Bucktooth netted three goals and added three assists while Steenhuis scored a team-leading five goals in the victory. John Tavares added two goals and notched an assist while serving as the team’s captain in the game. White, who, along with Steenhuis, was voted into the game, tallied an assist and served the East’s only penalty in the game.
“I don’t know if they should bring defensive guys like us into the game anymore and have the offense go up and down, but it was lots of fun. I had to get on the scoresheet somehow, so I took a penalty. They didn’t want to cut through the middle anymore after that I guess,” joked White.
Despite the high-scoring, seesaw battle between both teams, White’s East squad was victorious over the West, 30-26. Bucktooth netted what would be the game-winning goal at 10:39 in the fourth quarter to secure the win for his team.
“We do have some pride out there, and you never like losing no matter what kind of game it is. For a defensive guy like myself, you don’t like leaving your goalie out to dry,” said White.
“Going back, a lot of my hockey buddies played lacrosse so it was an easy fit. I hung out with them all winter, and they talked me into playing the sport, and it stuck ever since,” recalled the Bandits’ captain. “Towards the end of my junior career, I started talking to a few GM’s around the league coming up to the draft. I always played hockey, and it was the number one sport at the time, but once that ended lacrosse seemed to be a good fit.”
In 2001, White was drafted by the Albany Attack in the second round (20th overall) of the NLL Entry Draft. After just one season, White transferred with the franchise to play for the San Jose Stealth. In 2004, White became a Bandit when the team traded a 2005 first round pick (11th overall) to acquire the rugged defenseman from San Jose.
“I didn’t really know what to expect after the acquisition. I knew a few guys who played for Buffalo, and they really seemed to enjoy it. It’s always nice to be wanted from another team, and it shows what kind of organization the Bandits are, which is a top notch team.”
Ever since the Bandits traded for White, he has been a cornerstone of the franchise. White was also part of the Bandits team that won the Champions Cup in 2008. Although he missed most of the final game due to injury, White remembers how the experience felt.
“It was amazing to get your first NLL Championship, and there is no other feeling like it. It was especially great because I enjoyed it with half the guys in this dressing room, and we won it in front of our sold-out home crowd,” recalled White. “I only played a couple shifts because I got hurt early, and they wouldn’t let me play anymore. We’ll have to get to another championship so I can contribute a bit more.”
The 2009 campaign was another memorable season for the defenseman. In addition to moving into the top ten in all-time penalty minutes for the Bandits, he was selected as the team’s captain, succeeding one of the NLL’s greatest players and current Bandits’ assistant coach, Rich Kilgour. In the first two-plus years of White’s captaincy, the team has posted a 22-17 record and made the playoffs in the first two full seasons.
“I had big footsteps to fill,” acknowledged White. “Richie has been the captain for so many years, and it is an honor for Darris and management to pick me. It is an amazing feeling because there haven’t been many captains in Buffalo’s history, so I think about how lucky I am that these guys want me to lead them.”
White has been a part of both winning and losing teams throughout his nine-year career, but so far he likes what he sees from the 2011 Bandits squad. With the additions of players like Tracey Kelusky, Scott Self and Chad Culp joining the likes of Tavares, Steenhuis, and Bucktooth, White thinks this year’s team could have a special season in the year the team is celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
“We got a few new faces this year so it is taking some time for guys to gel together, but we seem to be rolling now. There are quite a few similarities between this team and the 2008 Championship team because we’re such a hard-working team and don’t want to give up anything to the opposition. We just have to keep working hard and things will pan out for us, because through hard work good things happen,” said White, who ranks second on the team with 42 loose balls on the season.
The Bandits captain certainly has established a successful lacrosse career, but he has also been able to carry over that success off the turf. White works in the indoor air and cooling business near his home in Canada.
“I work for a family-owned business in heating and cooling. I install air conditioners and furnaces, which is a great business to work at in Canada,” White said with a smile. “If any of my teammates ever need furnaces, they know I can put them in for them.”