Tonawanda News

Sports

May 3, 2014

Bandits open playoffs tonight in Toronto

Tonawanda News — They had their chances. Eight of them, to be exact.

A win in any of the Buffalo Bandits’ final eight games would have secured them a home playoff game in the first round of the postseason. Not one came and though Buffalo clinched the third and final playoff seed in the National Lacrosse League East Division, it is forced to hit the road.

The Toronto Rock (9-9) unseated the Bandits (8-10) for the second seed and right to host the East semis after winning its final four games. Buffalo now travels to the Air Canada Centre tonight for a 7 p.m. square-off with the Rock. The winner advances to the East finals, where the top-seeded Rochester Knighthawks (14-4) await.

It was far from an ideal finish for the Bandits, as they’re faced with no other choice than to figure a way to win again on the fly.

“The way our season ended, I think the best way to approach it is you kind of wipe the slate clean, and it’s a fresh start,” Bandits assistant coach Dan Teat said. “Not a whole lot matters except for the game (tonight). We have to focus on that and not dwell on the last eight games.”

While the Bandits are thinking positively, they did refuse a gift-wrapped luxury. It was practically a gimme. And given the team’s home and road splits, the site of the contest could prove to be a factor in the outcome.

Buffalo went 6-3 at First Niagara Center, but 2-7 elsewhere. Included in its record at First Niagara Center is a pair of early-season 12-10 victories over Toronto. The Rock countered with a 13-9 home win against Buffalo on April 18 to close the season series.

The contrast in the way each team ended the year is clear, with Toronto’s last loss coming in March, the same month Buffalo last triumphed.

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