Sunday, April 22, 2007

B-O-X! B-O-X!... Bandits in playoff action

Yet another cool sports weekend downtown ends at HSBC Arena this afternoon. I got a chance to cover the Bandits game as part of our "Puck Stop" column in Artvoice. Here's a game recap...

The Buffalo Bandits hosted the Minnesota Swarm this afternoon in the first round of National Lacrosse League playoff action.

After the first six minutes of the game, Annoying Screeching P.A. Guy had to have a big yellow puddle under his chair, as the Swarm took an early 4-0 lead on just 5 shots and the situation was dire for the Bandits. Buffalo then came roaring back and even took a brief lead in the second, but a late “hidden ball trick” stunt with the Buffalo goalie out of the net backfired, giving Minnesota a last second goal and an 8-7 lead at the half.

Then after halftime everything changed...Buffalo came out storming in the second half, playing almost a perfect game and playing excellent defense, stifling the Swarm attack. The Bandits completely dominated and ended up winning 14-8, with John Tavares scoring three of the goals in the second half.

Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour gave credit to his defense. "We really shut 'em down in that second half and Mikey (goalie Mike Thompson) came up big and I give them all the credit for that." Kilgour also admitted that there was some panic after those early goals. "It felt like deja vu from last year's Champion Cup game falling behind like that."

The Bandits go on to play at Rochester this Friday. Said Kilgour "Hopefully they (Rochester) are due for a game where their shots don't go in and their goalie doesn't stop everything, but other than that we just have to stick to our system."

The Knighthawks swept the Bandits in their two games in the regular season. Coach Kilgour did report that injured star goaltender Steve "Chugger" Dietrich might not be ready to start but will most likely dress as the backup. If Buffalo finds a way to win Friday's game, they will host the Champion’s Cup Final right here in Buffalo on Saturday, May 12.

The teams shake hands on the field after the Bandits took it to the Swarm by a 14-8 score.

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