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LumberJax

by: , DAWSON

Next: The playoff-bound LumberJax (6-9) play at Buffalo (9-6) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in their regular-season finale. The Jax will play at either San Jose or Colorado in the National Lacrosse League playoffs.

• Buffalo features John Tavares, the NLL's all-time leading scorer, who has 25 goals and 54 assists this season. Mark Steenhuis has 33 goals and 41 assists. '(The Bandits) play high-pressure defense, very similar to Calgary,' Portland coach and General Manager Derek Keenan says. 'You've got to take care of the ball, or they can turn it around in transition.'

• Portland's Dan Dawson has 16 points in his past two games and sits 10th in the NLL with 37 goals and 41 assists for 78 points.

Dawson had six goals and an assist April 11 against Philadelphia and then four goals and five assists Friday against San Jose, as the Jax beat the Stealth 12-11 in overtime. Peter Morgan scored the game-winner at San Jose to clinch the playoff berth.

Keenan says Dawson has played well all year. 'He's hard on himself, takes a lot upon himself. He's a professional,' Keenan says. 'Now that his shots are going in the net, he creates for other players. He's a marquee player.'

• Keenan admired the persistence of his team at San Jose. The Jax trailed 11-10 after a San Jose rally, but defenseman Brodie Merrill netted a tying goal with 2:39 left in regulation.

'We did a nice job defensively, for the most part, and (goalie) Matt Disher was really good,' Keenan says.

• Many in the NLL have questioned why Keenan would give up a No. 1 draft pick, a young standout in Ian Crashley (and goalie Matt King) for Disher. Keenan stands by his decision.

'I'm not going to do a sales job on a trade; I knew what I needed to do and I did it,' he says. 'So far, the results have been good. Yeah, the future is important, and you have to plan for it. But you also have to seize an opportunity, and I've felt from the get-go that we have a team that can win a championship.'

Keenan says the team has confidence in Disher, who has been solid in all four outings since being acquired from Edmonton.

'He's a very calm competitor, and he doesn't get down,' Keenan says. 'For a goalie, that's a great quality to have.'

• Keenan calls it 'the most bizarre (NLL) season I've ever seen,' because of the upsets, blowouts and none of them teams playing consistently.

• Ryan Powell (ankle) probably won't make the Buffalo trip, and Bruce Alexander has a work commitment and probably won't travel.

- Jason Vondersmith