6:27 p.m. -- Wonder if anyone is doing the lacrosse/running double-header this weekend?
That's right, greetings from Toronto. Tonight the Rock host the Buffalo Bandits in the first-round playoff game. Meanwhile, the Toronto Marathon is here tomorrow. Sounds like the perfect time for someone who covers lacrosse and running for a living ... but I'll be home after the game tonight.
You know most of the particulars. The Bandits have won three of their last four to finish at 7-9. But Toronto is playing well as well, as the Rock won the East with a 9-7 record. My guess is that the winner of this game makes it to the championship game from the East ... but don't quote me. Rochester won last night, so the Knighthawks either will come here next week or Rochester will host Buffalo.
The Bandits are said to be healthy for this one. Mike Thompson's knee has had a week more to recover. He could play if needed, although Anthony Cosmo should be the starter.
6:33 p.m. -- By the way, you might get a kick out of this story about how I single-handedly lost a game for the Bandits this week: http://buddbailey.blogspot.ca/2012/05/losing-streak.html.
6:47 p.m. -- The building isn't exactly full. The top ticket price up here was something around $70, but the usual $8 or so convenience charge. Meanwhile, in Rochester, season-ticket holders got seats for free on Friday. Bandits fans could buy seats at about half the top rate, although they aren't near the glass.
6:56 p.m. -- Your scratches for the night for Buffalo -- Jeremy Thompson, Brandon Francis, and Travis Irving. Francis is sitting out the third game of his three-game suspension. He is still on the active roster, even though he can't play. If Buffalo called someone up from the practice squad, a body would have to be released if Francis came back next week. Old friend Phil Sanderson is one of the Rock scratches.
7:12 p.m. -- Kevin Buchanan's stick just flew into the first row. Amazingly, he got it back.
7:16 p.m. -- Bandits couldn't have asked for a better start. Buffalo is up, 2-0, with Tracey Kelusky and Scott Self scoring the goals. If you are looking for one of those "keys to the game" that pop on television a lot, here's one for the Bandits -- stay out of the penalty box. Toronto's power play can be lethal.
7:25 p.m. -- Bandits have padded their lead to 3-0 with four minutes left in the first period. The Rock have done very little so far. Shots are 12-5, Bandits, which sounds about right.
7:33 p.m. -- You could say only one thing went wrong for the Bandits in the first quarter. Ian LLord was knocked into the glass behind the Toronto goal, and had to be helped off the floor. Surprising there was no call; it looked as if coach Darris Kilgour would agree with that. Otherwise, it's been all Buffalo as the Bandits have a 4-0. Mark Steenhuis has the other goal. Anthony Cosmo hadn't been tested much, and Nick Rose has let in a couple of so-so goals so far.
Two years ago, I believe Buffalo had an early lead in the first round playoff game, but went on to lose, 13-11. We'll see where we go from here.
7:40 p.m. -- Cosmo has a couple of good saves tonight, and a couple of friendly goal posts as well. Still 4-0 with 10:42 left in the second quarter.
7:55 p.m. -- The Bandits are up, 6-2, with 2:04 left in the quarter. The last two goals have been off the stick of John Tavares. On the first goal, Scott Self came down on a fast break and wisely dished to Tavares on the right side. Well, Tavares knows what to do in that situation and he scored. A few minutes later, the league's all-time leading scorer threw something of a change-up from medium range. It almost floated into the net.
8:01 p.m. -- Bandits take a 6-2 lead into the locker room at the half.
8:17 p.m. -- Teams are back on the floor. Toronto had an 18-8 edge in shots in the second quarter. Goals were 2-2. By the way, Colin Doyle said on TSN's broadcast after the half that he thought his team wasn't playing with much confidence for some reason.
8;24 p.m. -- No scoring in the first six minutes of the third quarter. It's been up and down play, but great scoring chances haven't been seen too often. Tracey Kelusky has something of a breakaway off a long pass, but he didn't really have much time to do more than catch and shoot from close range. Rose made the save.
8:28 p.m. -- There seems to be a hole in the Toronto net. Is there a seamstress in the house?
8:32 p.m. -- There was, at least in the form of a referee. The Rock had a couple of good chances but couldn't capitalize. We're still 6-2 with 5:38 to go in the period.
8:46 p.m. -- Toronto has cut the lead to 6-4 after three quarters. Buffalo didn't score in the third period, and might have been a little passive on offense.
8;50 p.m. -- Casey Biernes strikes again. We're at 6-5 wth 12:30 to go.
8:53 p.m. -- Beirnes again, this time on a delayed penalty. We're tied at 6-6. And the Bandits haven't scored since the 10:54 mark of the second period. That's about 25 minutes without a score.
8:57 p.m. -- Two years ago, the Bandits held a 7-4 lead at the half over Toronto and a 10-8 lead after three quarters in a first-round playoff game. Toronto won that one, 13-11
9:03 p.m. -- We're still 6-6 with 4:47 left.
9:09 p.m. -- Brenden Thenhaus scoreds with 1:35 left to give Toronto the lead.
9:15 p.m. -- John Tavares' apparent goal in tne final second is waived off, Toronto wins 7-6. Never seen anything like it. More later.
11:02 p.m. -- Tracey Kelusky was in the crease when the game-tying goal was scored, thus wiping out the goal. So the Bandits' season ends with a whimper, as the team lost 10 of 17 starts.
By the way, no team has ever won an NLL playoff game with as few as seven goals before this. Toronto is at home next week against Rochester.
It's been quite a season, and quite a ride. Thanks for reading; see you in January.
--- Budd Bailey