The Buffalo Bandits limped to the finish of the regular season Saturday at the First Niagara Center with a 16-14 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks for their, franchise record, eighth loss in a row.
The loss, combined with a Toronto vicory over Minnesota, forces the Bandits to open the National Lacrosse League playoffs on the road next Saturday at Toronto.
The Bandits played from behind for the entire game but managed to battle back on three separate occasions.The game, however, got away from Buffalo in the fourth quarter.
Rochester's Craig Point received a slashing penalty early in the final quarter with the Bandits trailing 12-11. Buffalo looked poised to tie the game for a fourth time, but instead gave up two shorthanded goals and never recovered.
The Knighthawks pulled away to a 16-11 lead before Buffalo tried to mount a final comeback. The Bandits got within two goals but ran out of time in the end.
Despite the loss it was the Bandits second-highest offensive performance of the season. It was a very different game than the 8-4 loss to the Knighthawks in Rochester a week ago.
Rochester opened the game with a 4-0 lead before Buffalo got on the board with a pair of power play goals. The Bandits tied the game for the first time early in the second quarter 6-6. The teams then traded three-goal runs before Sid Smith gave the Knighthawks a 10-9 lead at the half. Rochester maintained that one-goal in the third and then blew the game open with the two shorthanded goals early in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Benesch led the Bandits with nine points (3G, 6A) for his best performance as a Bandit. Mark Steenhuis had four goals plus three assists. Joel Matthews recorded the first two goals of his NLL career as he scored twice in just his second game. Joe Resetarits also scored twice.
Cody Jamieson staked a claim for the NLL scoring title with a 10-point night for Rochester (2 G, 8 A). He finished the season with a career-best 108 points. Craig Point and Stephen Keogh both scored hat tricks.
The Bandits finish the regular season with a disappointing 8-10 record after starting the year 8-2. They will face the Toronto Rock in the first round of the playoffs next Saturday at 7 PM at the Air Canada Centre. Buffalo won the season series with Toronto 2-1 but lost at the ACC last Friday 13-9. The winner will face Rochester in the division final in a best-of-two series.