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Game 2: Buffalo Takes East Finals With 17-8 Win

Bandits Sweep Series 2-0

Hamilton, ON – The Buffalo Bandits defeated the Rock 17-8 in game two of the East Conference Finals on Saturday night at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre in front of 8,304 fans.  The win gave the Bandits a 2-0 series sweep and for the third consecutive season have advanced to the NLL Finals.

It was a second game in 24 hours for the two squads and while things were close early, the Bandits momentum from Friday night eventually seemed to carry over into Saturday’s contest.

“In the end, we talked about it, we said we weren’t good enough and we got beat by a better team,” said Sawyer after the season-ending loss.  “We feel with this group that we’ve taken strides and we’re getting closer, but having gone through the last couple of games, clearly, we’re not there yet. Unfortunately, I guess that’s part of the process of becoming a championship team, learning these lessons, and having to lose before you can win.”

The Rock failed to get on a run in the first quarter, but counterpunched every Bandits’ goal, keeping the score even at 3-3 after one.

In the second quarter, the back-and-forth goal scoring continued early, with the teams tied 4-4.  However, a major penalty assessed to the Rock kickstarted the Bandits’ run that would ultimately win them the game.  Two power play goals on the 5-minute advantage put Buffalo ahead by two and they never looked back.  In total, they scored seven times in 4:49 to take an 11-4 lead into the halftime break.

The third quarter followed the same script as the first frame.  This time it was the Rock scoring first, but the Bandits had an answer each time, preventing the Rock from getting on a run of their own and making any kind of a serious dent in Buffalo’s lead.

With the score 14-7 to begin the fourth, the Rock did get an early tally, but it was followed by three more Bandits’ goals to round out the scoring.

In the late going, the Rock flipped back and forth between goaltenders, alternating between starter Nick Rose and backup Troy Holowchuk, each goalie putting in their time making the sprint to the bench for the extra attacker as the Rock tried to battle back.

“This one hurts,” said Rock captain Challen Rogers.  “We give them credit; they came out and showed why they’re first in the East.  We have some things to improve on, and next year starts now.  There are some positives you can take away, but ultimately, we want to win a championship and get by the Eastern Conference Final.  We fell short of our goal.”

The Rock were dealt a serious blow to their hopes of evening the series when the team placed star forward and leading scorer Tom Schreiber on the Injured Reserve List earlier in the day.  Schreiber played in Friday’s game one loss, his only playoff appearance this postseason as he also missed the Rock’s quarterfinals win over Halifax.

Rose stopped 34 of the 48 shots he faced in just over 54 minutes of work.  Holowchuk allowed 2 goals on 8 shots.  Matt Vinc made 33 saves on the 41 shots fired his way.  Devlin Shanahan got in four minutes of mop-up duty and made six saves, with no goals against.

The Rock were 3-for-5 with the man up, while the Bandits were 2-for-4 on their chances.  Buffalo outshot Toronto 57-47.

The Bandits will now face the winner of the West Conference Final in a best-of-three series.

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