The Buffalo Bandits know who they will play in the East Final of the National Lacrosse League playoffs. They also know when they’ll play, which is where the story gets really interesting.
The New England Black Wolves advanced in the best-of-one semifinal round on Friday night. They defeated the Georgia Swarm, 14-13 in overtime, at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Shawn Evans, the league’s second-leader scorer behind the Bandits’ Dhane Smith in the regular season, scored the winner. It came on a power play after 57 seconds had elapsed. Joel White of the Swarm had been called for holding.
The East Final is a best-of-two series, with a 10-minute mini-game taking place immediately following the conclusion of the second game if both teams have won a game at that point. Following the win Friday, the Black Wolves announced that the opening game of the series at their home would be played on Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m.
That could cause some problems for both teams. Many players and coaches in the NLL work in jobs that allow them time off on weekends - for example, Troy Cordingley and John Tavares are both teachers - and it may be difficult for some of them to participate in the opening game of the series. The Black Wolves’ arena is booked on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night next weekend, and the team opted to play its home game on the 16th. The team had announced that the first game would be played on Tuesday, May 17, immediately following the conclusion of Friday’s game, but changed the date later on Friday night.
The Bandits offered to “buy” a playoff game from the New York Titans in 2009 when that team was having problems drawing fans in Newark, NJ. The Titans declined and won the game, but moved to Orlando the following year and eventually folded. It certainly would seem possible that the Bandits made a similar offer to the Black Wolves this time around.
Meanwhile, the conclusion of the series will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at the First Niagara Center.
Colorado will host Calgary in the West’s first-round semifinal matchup on Saturday night. The winner plays Saskatchewan.