March 26, 2005 -- The Buffalo Bandits stared at a golden opportunity to take control of the divisional title, and perhaps eventually a league championship, on this night, and they let it get away.
Tom Borrelli had the story for The News on a very disappointing loss, that eventually was followed by a first-round playoff exit:
The Buffalo Bandits lost more than just a game and the chance to clinch a playoff spot Saturday night.
A 12-8 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Rock before a season-high crowd of 11,309 in HSBC Arena also means the Bandits have surrendered control of their own destiny in the race for the top spot in the National Lacrosse League's East Division.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said Bandits coach Darris Kilgour. "We haven't done things right in two games (including last weekend's 12-11 overtime loss at Rochester). I'm very hot about it."
Even if they win out, the Bandits (8-5) would need Toronto (8-3) to lose three of its final five games to deny the Rock a seventh consecutive divisional or regular-season championship. So now the focus shifts to the Rochester Knighthawks (8-5), who come to Buffalo on Friday night for a game critical to the quest for a first-round home playoff contest.
By winning Saturday night, Toronto captured the tiebreaker against the Bandits with a 2-1 victory in the season series and has the inside track to assume the first-round bye that goes with taking the division. The Knighthawks and Bandits have split two games, and Friday night's winner will win that tiebreaker.
"Every year we go through this," said Kilgour, whose team lost its final four regular-season games last season. "We come out strong, then start patting each other on the back but forget about everything that got us to where we're at. I hope it doesn't take a five-game slide with us just slipping into the playoffs to realize it."
Click here for more on the Bandits' 2004-05 season.
- Budd Bailey