The Buffalo Bandits' playoff hopes are officially over.
The Bandits were no match for the Georgia Swarm on Saturday night, dropping a 20-7 decision in the KeyBank Center. Buffalo needed to win its last two games and get a little help to make the postseason, but those hopes were firmly buried. The Bandits were greatly outplayed in all aspects of the game.
The Bandits looked as if they were headed to the worst loss in their history at one point in the fourth quarter, when they trailed by 19-5. That tied a 14-goal loss to Minnesota in 2013, a 21-7 defeat which was the last time the Bandits gave up 20 goals in a game. But Buffalo scored a couple of goals in the final minutes to avoid that dreary distinction, while Georgia wasn't interested in running up the score at the end.
The playoff elimination means that this ranks as one of the most disappointing seasons in team history. Buffalo reached the National Lacrosse League finals last season, and had hopes of taking one last step to a title this time. Instead, the Bandits set a team record for losses in a season with 11, with one game left on the schedule (next week).
That sort of season: In 2016, much went right for the Bandits. In 2017, much has gone wrong. One good example - Buffalo lost its best player during the morning shootaround on Saturday morning.
During a normal drill, Dhane Smith suddenly was spotted on the ground in great pain. He is said to have stepped on a lacrosse ball and suffered a lower-body injury. Smith had to be helped off the field. He was put on the injured list Saturday afternoon, and was spotted using crutches Saturday night.
Billy Dee Smith said Saturday morning that he was out with a torn hamstring. The defender said he expects to be unavailable for six to eight weeks. Buffalo was already missing Craig England to a lower-body injury.
The Bandits' only good news on the injury front was that Alex Kedoh Hill was back in the lineup. He had missed last weekend's game for personal reasons.
Slow start: The Bandits have a ton of bad beginnings to their games this season, and this was another one. Buffalo fell behind, 4-0, within the first 11 minutes of play. It was the fourth time this season that the Bandits had given up the first four goals.
Part of the problem in this case was a couple of power plays. Georgia is tough enough on even strength, but the Swarm really move the ball well with the extra man. They scored two goals that was in the opening minutes.
It got worse: The Bandits were still within striking distance after David Brock scored early in the second period to make it a 5-3 Georgia lead. But then the Swarm scored the next five goals to take complete charge of the game. Five different players scored - including two named Thompson (Miles and Lyle).
New man in the net: Buffalo coach Troy Cordingley had Dave DiRuscio come in for Anthony Cosmo in the second period. That was his seventh goalie change of the season. The 2013 team did it eight times.
Milestone watch: Cosmo needed two more wins to reach 100 as he entered Saturday's game. He'll have to play next year to catch Bob Watson, who retired with 105. Cosmo started his career as a backup to Watson, a Hall of Famer, in Toronto.
Meanwhile, Mark Steenhuis entered the game with 993 points. He needed seven to reach 1,000 - only eight other players have done that in National Lacrosse League history. Shawn Evans of New England reached the number Saturday night. He got five of them to get within two at 998.
For Georgia, Lyle Thompson became the first player in team history to reach 100 points.
In the house: 16,833, the biggest of the season.
Next week: The Toronto Rock comes to the KeyBank Center to close the regular season next Saturday night.