The Buffalo Bandits had their 2014 season ended Saturday night with a 13-8 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks in Game Two of the NLL Eastern Division finals and then a 2-1 overtime loss in the series-deciding 10-minute mini-game.
Rochester controlled Game Two from the second quarter on after the teams finished the first tied 4-4. The Knighthawks exploded for six goals in the second stanza to take a 10-5 lead into halftime.
As the second half wore on, and the Bandits still trailing, it became obvious that both teams were resigned to the fact that the series would be decided in the mini-game.
The NLL changed its playoff format for this season making the division final and Champions Cup final rounds best-of-two series with each team hosting a game. If the teams split the two games then the series will be decided with a 10-minute mini-game that is played immediately after Game Two.
Buffalo scored first in the extra game as Joe Resetarits launched a shot while falling to the turf that went through the legs of Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc.
The Bandits almost scored again, moments later, when Derek Suddons got a breakaway off a Rochester turnover but hit the post. Rochester transition player Joel McCready, who was a scratch in Game One, tied the game with 2:22 left in regulation.
With the teams tied after the 10-minute mini-game, the series was decided in sudden death overtime. With just under two minutes played Rochester forward, Cory Vitarelli, sprinted around Dave Brock and Andrew Watt and scored over the shoulder Anthony Cosmo to send the Knighthawks to the Champions Cup Final.
The Bandits season comes to an end after they had returned to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Rochester moves on to play Calgary for the Champions Cup and a chance to win a championship for the third year in a row.
Following the game Bandits all-time leading scorer, John Tavares, would not say if he is coming back for a 24th season with Buffalo. The 45-year-old Tavares will spend the Summer deciding if he wants to continue his historic career or retire as the game's greatest player.