The Buffalo Bandits' 2011 regular season is in the history books. The last entry is followed by question marks rather than exclamation points.
The Bandits dropped a 15-9 decision to the Rochester Knighthawks before 18,690 in HSBC Arena on Saturday night. Admittedly, the game meant nothing in the standings. The Bandits had clinched the East Division title and home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Still, it was the team's second straight one-sided loss, coming a week after a 16-9 loss to Boston.
"Obviously the guys shut her down with two weeks left in the season," Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said. "They weren't too worried about our home record. They were more worried about getting through the games unscathed and hopefully pick it up in the playoffs."
"Maybe we weren't playing with the urgency that we needed to play with," added Bandits forward Brenden Thenhaus.
This was the rare lacrosse game that essentially was decided in the opening seven minutes. Rochester did everything right in scoring the first six goals, chasing starting goalie Angus Goodleaf in the process.
"It's tough to come out like that," Thenhaus said. "It's hard to pinpoint what went wrong. You have to play 60 minutes in this league. You have to come out prepared."
The Knighthawks put on a clinic at the start with fast, accurate passing that resulted in great scoring chances.
"I don't know how to describe it," Buffalo defender Scott Self said. "They got a couple of goals early, and we doubted ourselves."
At the other end, the Bandits' passing and shooting were both off.
"It [the start] was the difference in the game," said Buffalo's John Tavares, who had two goals and four assists. "It's tough to play catch-up in this league."
Buffalo did crawl back into the game, closing to within 8-6 early in the third quarter on a goal by Chad Culp. But from there, Rochester came up with important goals when needed to keep the Bandits at a safe distance.
"When we had our chances, we buried them. Anyone on our team is capable of scoring," Rochester coach Mike Hasen said. "It's nice to win in this building."
Cody Jamieson finished with three goals and four assists to lead the Knighthawks. Shawn Williams had two goals and five assists, and Jarrett Davis had three goals.
The Bandits (10-6) head into the playoffs with some degree of confidence. They defeated the three other playoff teams from the East in two of the three games. That gave them the tiebreaking edge over Toronto and Rochester (also 10-6).
Still, the Bandits lost one-sided games at home to two division rivals down the stretch. A 4-4 home record won't convince opponents that the Bandits are unbeatable in Buffalo. That includes closing the season with three straight home losses.
The postseason action begins next Saturday night in HSBC Arena, when Boston comes back to town for a first-round matchup.
"[The Rochester] loss isn't going to motivate us for the playoffs. What's going to motivate us for the first round is last week," Thenhaus said. "The same thing happened. We know what happened -- Boston came in and embarrassed us. It won't happen again. We have a chip on our shoulder."