TORONTO — Buffalo Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo needs to buy an eraser today. He has to wipe out the ugly “zero” that was in his statistical profile under “playoff wins.”
Cosmo earned postseason win number one when the Bandits defeated Toronto on Saturday night. It only took him 14 years to do it.
“I got the game ball because it’s my first playoff win,” he said about this victory. “But I want to clear the air. I won in San Jose, but I got pulled halfway through the game so I didn’t get credit for it. So this time, I got to finish it and get credit for it.”
Cosmo took an 0-7 record into this game. It’s not really fair to blame the goalie for all those losses, no matter what the record book showed.
“Look at some of the teams he played with early in his career. Some of those teams didn’t have a chance,” coach Troy Cordingley said. “Then in 2012, he came in here and only let in six, and he lost, 7-6.”
While Cosmo enjoyed the personal triumph, the team’s victory meant even more.
“We’ve been dealing with adversity since the first couple of games that we lost,” he said. “For some reason, things weren’t bouncing our way. Tonight, the offense put us on their shoulders — Ryan Benesch in particular. It showed that effort really pays off.”
Buffalo improved its record to 2-3 in playoff games against Toronto, and buried a few ghosts in the process. Toronto ended Buffalo’s season in three straight seasons, from 2010 to 2012.
The Bandits’ last trip to the postseason came in 2012, when Toronto edged Buffalo, 7-6, in the Air Canada Centre. That game is remembered for the Bandits’ tying goal in the final seconds being disallowed due to a crease violation by forward Tracey Kelusky.
The year before, the Rock took a 12-11 game against the Bandits in Buffalo. Toronto took a leads of 6-0 and 12-7 in that game, only to see the Bandits claw back within striking distance. Rock goalie Bob Watson stopped Brett Bucktooth in the final 15 seconds to preserve Toronto’s thin lead. Kyle Clancy, a former first-round draft choice in his last game as a Bandit, had four goals as he filled in for an injured John Tavares.
In 2010, the Rock beat the Bandits, 13-11 in spite of six goals by Mike Accursi. Buffalo had a 6-0 lead after only 20 minutes of play but couldn’t hold off a Toronto rally.
Buffalo’s previous postseason win over the Rock came in 2004, a 19-10 win in Toronto in the NLL semifinals. The Bandits lost the championship game in Calgary in their next game.
The Bandits don’t hand out a trophy at the end of the season for their unsung hero. If they did, coach Troy Cordingley knows who should receive it.
“Rory Smith,” he said quickly and emphatically when asked for his choice. “There’s a warrior right there.
“Early in the season, he took a shot in the throat. Our doctor came from the stands to the bench. When we needed him on the next shift, he just pushed the doc out of the way and got out on the floor.”
Opposing players do not enjoy going up against Smith, who is known for his physical style. He finished with 36 penalty minutes during the regular season, second on the team to Steve Priolo.
“He’s a throwback, I’ll tell you that,” Cordingley added.
Smith couldn’t have followed a better formula to be a relatively anonymous contributor. He has no goals and six assists this season, and defensive defensemen are as unsung as they come in lacrosse.